15Dec 15 December. 3rd Sunday of Advent

Introduction

Traditionally, this Sunday was called in Latin: Gaudete , which means ‘a day for rejoicing’. Advent is half over, and the feast of Christmas is coming soon. We worship God who promises us joy without end.

Penitential Rite

Confident of God is merciful, let us remember our sins and repent (pause): Lord Jesus, you came to gather the nations into the peace of God’s kingdom … You come in word and sacrament to strengthen us in holiness … You will come in glory with salvation for your people.

Opening Prayer

(ICEL 1998)
God of glory and compassion,
at your touch the wilderness blossoms,
broken lives are made whole,
and fearful hearts grow strong in faith.

Open our eyes to your presence
and awaken our hearts to sing your praise.
To all who long for your Son’s return
grant perseverance and patience,
that we may announce in word and deed
the good news of the kingdom.

We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

1st Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10

What God can do: he can open our eyes and turn the barren desert into a blossoming garden

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus
it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Responsorial: Psalm 145: 6-10

Response: Lord, come and save us.

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
the Lord, who sets prisoners free.

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
who raises up those who are bowed down,
the Lord, who protects the stranger
and upholds the widow and orphan.

It is the Lord who loves the just
but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
Zion’s God, from age to age.

2nd Reading: James 5:7-10

We are urged to follow the prophets’ noble example of courage

Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is sanding at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

From his prison cell, John is encouraged by hearing about Jesus’ cures

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?”

Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John : “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

BIBLE

May your words, O Lord, be in my thoughts, on my lips, and in my heart. May they be my guide on life’s journey and keep me near to you.


How might these Readings apply today?

Rejoice in the Lord

“Be strong and do not fear! Here is your God.” Today is called Rejoicing Sunday. Today the candle on the Advent Wreath is pink, not purple as on the other three Sundays of Advent. It is meant to express our joy at the nearness of Christ’s birthday.

Some people seem to be happy by nature; others mournful by nature. Here is the story of a priest who always preached mournful sermons. He was asked by his parish priest to preach about St. Joseph instead, as he was a cheerful man. The following Sunday the priest spoke about Joseph who happened to be a carpenter and as a result spent a lot of his time making coffins and here we go again with sad, sad tales.

Here are three impressions about happiness. First, that happiness is right here and now.. We convince ourselves that life will be better when we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids are not old enough and we will be more content when they are. After that we are frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together. The truth is there is no better time to be happy than right now.

Second, ‘If you are happy, let your face know.’ Maybe we could begin to be more joyful by taking a peek in the mirror and asking ourselves: does my face look like the face of someone who has heard the good news of the Gospel, namely that I am loved unconditionally by God?

Third, joy will come to us if we set about actively trying to create it for others. If I go about my life demanding that others carry me rather than seeking to carry them; feeding off others rather than feeding them; demanding that others meet my needs rather than trying to meet theirs, joy will never find me no matter how hard I party or try to crank up good cheer.


Could the Baptist have doubted?

Why did the Baptist send his urgent question from his prison cell to Jesus: “Are you He that is to come?” Hadn’t John recognised our Lord as the Messiah several months previously, at the Jordan, when he proclaimed Him publicly as the Lamb of God? Did John, faced with almost certain death under Herod, have doubts or second thoughts about Jesus? Some say no, John only asked the question for the sake of his followers, who needed confirmation of their faith from Christ himself. But if John did have doubts, it was because of the peaceful way that Jesus behaved, not at all like the violent revolutionary the Jews expected as their Messiah. Jesus told him what God’s messenger would be like: healer of the sick, consoler of the suffering, preacher of freedom and truth to the poor. In this way, John’s faith in Jesus was made strong, enabling him to stick to his guns and accept a martyr’s death.

BIDDING PRAYERS

Introduction: Let us bring our prayers to God, who raises up those who are bowed down.

  1. That the peoples of Europe may re-discover the beauty and value of our Christian inheritance(we pray quietly for this). Lord, hear us.
  2. That all Christians may experience hope and joy as they prepare for the Lord’s coming (we pray quietly for this). Lord, hear us.
  3. That the blind, the lame, the deaf and all who suffer loss may have healing and strength (we pray quietly for this). Lord, hear us.
  4. That children who are in need of care may receive all the support they need (we pray quietly for this). Lord, hear us.
  5. That those who suffer because of the addiction of a relative may live in safety (we pray quietly for this). Lord, hear us.

Prayer for the dead: for those who have died (especially N and N), that they may be raised up to glory, we pray (we pray quietly for this). Lord, hear us.

Conclusion: O God, you keep faith with those in need of your kindness and justice, receive the prayers we make, through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Why did the Baptist send his urgent question from his prison cell to Jesus: “Are you He that is to come?”


2 Responses

  1. Seamus Ahearne

    God’s love letter this weekend:

    The tone/signal for today is REJOICE. That won’t make everyone happy! Too many enjoy bad health; enjoy stressing; enjoy the sob- stories. We are called to have big expansive minds and hearts. ‘Young’ Mary (an ould wan) caught the right idea last weekend. She said that since Maire’s work with PowerPoint on screen which helps us prepare for Mass with colourful Reflections; she (Mary) looks around much more. She notices things. She sees the colour of the setting sun; the slivers of moon; the fading buds; the waving/praying trees; the shadow and light on the hills; the lived-in faces here and the great gift and inspiration of those in our Community. She has captured it perfectly.

    Lighten up:

    Some have flat feet and can’t see the poetry of life. Some hear Scripture and miss the message. Many can’t hear the song (music of the wind and the birds) in the air; the beauty of the world; the kindness & love in people; the laughter in life; the fun in teasing; the humour of God everywhere. Today is telling us to lighten up. To notice. Isaiah speaks of plants dancing; of faint hearts having courage; of blind people seeing; of the lame jumping like deer. Is all of that crazy? Of course, it isn’t. When we encourage people and let them know what they can do; the impossible becomes possible. When people grow in confidence, we surely make God happy. Like ‘No Limbs; No Limits’ (Joanne O Riordan) or the Film – ‘Inside I am dancing.’

    Instagram for John the Baptist:

    John wasn’t too sure of Jesus. He was sent some photos by Instagram! A new world was being birthed in Jesus. So here is my suggestion: Scatter the accumulated dust in the heart and mind. Look around. Don’t stay rigid in ideas. See the new world. Believe in the God who calls us to open hearts & minds. Be bright & alive. Throw hope around. Laugh lots. Have patience. Be humble. If the weekend says – ‘The Lord is near.’ Find God. Where is our God today? Smell the air. Take those eyes – let them see. Delve into the characters of our past – appreciate what we have received. Take up the baton in the relay race and run. Swivel the head and truly say Amen in Communion to everyone in our Community. This is a great place; this is a great community. Wherever we are is good; if we can see. Of course we cannot but Rejoice.

    Seamus Ahearne osa

  2. Eddie Finnegan

    Seamus is full of praise for Máire and ‘Young’ Mary the last week or so, but when he wonders publicly whether ‘Sarah is fit for purpose’ he could have a mutiny on his hands. I’m sure, just like Carmel and Sharon in the back row, Young Sarah has her own role to play if she’s handled cautiously and encouraged.


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