Year B: Third Sunday of Advent

Year B Third Sunday of Advent

Is 61: 1-2; 10-11; 1 Thes 5: 16 – 24; Jn 1: 6 – 8, 19 – 28

NOTE: This commentary has been divided into four sections. Only use one section for a particular time of prayer.

Father, you wait for us until we are open to you. We wait for your Word to make us receptive. Attune us to your voice, to your silence, speak and bring your Son to us, Jesus, the Word of your peace.

(Collect these prayers for your personal use in the future.)

Read all the texts for this coming Sunday looking for the general tone.

I am sure that you have found, JOY, is obvious in the first and second readings.

Is 61: 10 ‘I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exalt in my God;’ (NRSV)
We hear these very words echoed in the responsorial psalm, ‘My soul (whole being) tells of the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.’ Lk 1: 46
1 Thes 5: 16 ‘Be happy at all times; pray constantly;’

It is not easy to identify JOY in the gospel. To find John the Baptist living out this JOY we need to look at Jn 3: 29.

‘The bridegroom’s friend, who stands by and listens to him, is overjoyed at hearing the bridegroom’s voice. This is my JOY and now it is complete.’ If we want to experience the joy of the Baptist, we must be able to recognise the voice of our Bridegroom, Jesus, as it comes to us in the Word and the events of our lives.
Come, let us tell God about the JOY we experience in his presence.

* * * * * * * * * *

Let us now return to the gospel. Read it several times, highlighting the repetitions. There may also be some phrases that have special significance for you.
These were my findings:

6A man came sent by God. His name was John. 7He came as a witness, as a witness to speak for the light, so that everyone might believe through him. 8He was not the light, only a witness to speak for the light.

19This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ 20he not only declared, but he declared quite openly, ‘I am not the Christ.’ 21 ‘Well then’, they asked, ‘are you Elijah?’ ‘I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ 22So they said to him, ‘Who are you?’ We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ 23 So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: ‘Make a straight way for the Lord.’ 24Now these men had been sent by the Pharisees, 25and they put this further question to him, ‘Why are you baptising if you are not the Christ, and not Elijah, and not the prophet?’ 26John replied, ‘I baptise with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – 27the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal strap.’

28 This happened at Bethany, on the far side of the Jordan, where John was baptising.
The story is set ‘on the far side of the Jordan’, a long way from Jerusalem and the Temple which symbolised organised religious practice. This text is not about organised religion. It is all about our spirituality. These should be two sides of the same coin but the danger is that we place the emphasis on external practices to the detriment of growing in our relationship with God and humanity. (our spirituality)

John was ‘a witness’.
This immediately challenges us.
Am I a witness to the light?
What do people see when they look at my life?
Do they see a reflection of our God?
When people come in contact with me do they experience just a little bit of God?
Enter into conversation with Jesus about your answers to his questions.

* * * * * * * * * *
‘that everyone might believe through him’
‘a voice that cries in the wilderness’
Both of these phrases draw us to the first reading. Is 61: 1-2
1The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor,
to bind up hearts that are broken;
to proclaim liberty to captives,
freedom to those in prison;
2to proclaim a year of favour from Yahewh,
This is why Jesus came into the world. Recall the scene in the synagogue of Nazareth when Jesus was called on to do the reading. Lk 4: 18-19
In Luke 4: 21 Jesus says: “Today this text has come true”.
‘This is why I came on earth. This is my mission. This is what I want to spend my life doing.’
Let these words enter deeply into your being. Can you respond in these words?
“Today this text has come true.”
‘What text are you referring to?’
Let us now return to the gospel.
Is there some phrase that has special significance for you?
What text most resonates with you?
Perhaps you are still looking for it. Be patient, God will give you one in due course. Just be faithful to listening to the Word.
What is your favourite text from scripture?
* * * * * * * * * *
You have been given four translations so that you get a fuller understanding of this beautiful prayer. Chose the translation that suits you best.

Is 61: 10 – 11
10I exalt for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has
(Liberty to captives)
(I am Good News)
clothed me in the garments of salvation,
he has wrapped me in the cloak of integrity,
like the bridegroom wearing his wreath, like a bride adorned in her jewels.
11For the earth makes fresh things grow, as a garden makes seeds spring up, so will the Lord make both integrity and praise spring up in the sight of the nations.

10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exalt in my God; for he has
(Liberty to captives)
(I am Good News)
clothed me with the garments of salvatio, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so
the Lord will cause

righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
10Let me rejoice in the Lord with all my heart, let me exalt in my God; for he has
(Liberty to captives)
(I am Good News)
robed me in deliverance and arrayed me in victory,
like and bridegroom with
his garland or a bride bedecked in her jewels.
11As the earth puts forth her blossom or plants in the garden burst into flower, so will the Lord God make

his victory and renown blossom before all the nations.
10I exalt for joy in Yahweh, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has
(Liberty to captives)
(I am Good News)
clothed me in garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in a cloak of saving justice,
like a bridegroom wearing his garland, like a bride adorned in her jewels.
11For as the earth sends up its shoots and a garden makes seeds sprout, so

Lord Yahweh makes saving justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.

This is a wonderful song of praise to our God. Pray it fully and sincerely.

* * * * * * * * * *

The final section of this prayer gives us the assurance that GOD WILL TRIUMPH / that GOODNESS WILL TRIUMPH in our lives and in society. We find this same assurance in John.

Look at Jn 1: 4-5. This will give us a clear understanding of ‘the light’.
‘What has come into being was life, life that was the light of men; and light shines in darkness, and darkness could not overpower it.’

Let us now pray using the words of scripture.
Here is my prayer.
I rejoice in my God, my whole being delights in my God.
Goodness, praise, justice, blossom in me and all people. (Repeat this slowly, many times)
Gradually my prayer becomes simpler.
My whole being rejoices in my God, you make goodness blossom in my life.
Still simpler:

I rejoice in my God. Goodness blossoms in me!

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