Third Sunday of Advent – Year A


Stephen M. Curry, O.S.A.
Merrimack College
North Andover, Massachusetts

Is 35:1-6a, 10
Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
Jas 5:7-10
Mt 11:2-11

If we could travel in time, we would journey back 2000 years ago to ancient Israel. When we arrived, we would discover that the Jewish people were under the control of the Roman Empire, which they despised. They kept praying to God to send them a messiah who would free them from the Romans and bring peace to the world.

As they used to gather for prayer in their synagogues on the sabbath, the rabbi would read the Hebrew scriptures to them and then comment on them. One of the possible readings was from the book of Isaiah, which was today’s first reading. This reading prophesied that when the messiah came, the eyes of the blind would be opened, the ears of the deaf would be cleared, the lame would leap, and the tongue of the mute would sing. Knowing how wonderful things would be when the messiah came, the Jewish people kept praying for his arrival.

In today’s gospel, John the Baptist asked if Jesus was the long awaited messiah. Jesus did not answer the question with a “yes” or “no” reply. Rather, he said what he was doing, which the prophet Isaiah prophesied: the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the dead are raised. By stating the miracles that he was performing, he indirectly was saying that he was the messiah.

We can apply this message of awaiting the coming of the messiah to our own lives. As we begin the third week of Advent, it’s a time for us to continue to repent and to rejoice in preparation for the coming of the Lord. One way that we can do this is to pick one part of our lives that we need to improve upon in order to enhance our relationship with God and others.

We can individually reflect upon several areas for growth. For example, if I don’t take the time daily to pray, then during the time of preparation for the Lord, let me dedicate five minutes to prayer. If I don’t do any spiritual reading, then maybe I can read scripture for five minutes each night before I go to bed. If I find that I’m selfish and take advantage of others, then maybe I can reach out more to others first and help them with their needs.

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to practice ways that will help us to grow in our relationship with God and one another. When we’re able to make these spiritual advancements, it’s a time for us to rejoice.

This type of reflection and conversion is what we would have experienced if we would have traveled back in time to ancient Israel. This is the message that today’s readings reveal. And this is what we too can experience as we take the time during the season of Advent to repent and prepare for the coming of the Lord.