Third Sunday of Advent Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10, Psalm 146, James 5:7-10, Gospel – Matthew 11:2-11

Third Sunday of Advent reflection by Sr. Margaret O’Brien

“REJOICE! Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice.  Indeed, the Lord is near.”

And that says it all. 

But this sentiment of today’s Entrance Antiphon is repeated again and again throughout the Mass.

In Isaiah:  I rejoice heartily in the Lord; in my God is the joy of my soul.

Again, in the Responsorial Psalm:  My soul rejoices in my God.

In Thessalonians, the theme is repeated, “Rejoice always…

And why all this gladness?  Because our God is near.  John the Baptist is announcing, “Make straight the way of the Lord.”  And “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”  Indeed It is among us. The Reality is here, but we wait the fullness of theexperience.  Each Christmas we hope for a deeper knowledge, greater receptivity to grace.

The Church assists us to name the graces we need by addressing the Christ by special names that express the longing of God’s People throughout the Old Testament.  Each of the Gospel antiphons in this week’s liturgy, called the OAntiphons, calls on Jesus by one of these names and asks for what we need.

O Wisdom, O Emmanuel, O Key of David, O King of All Nations and so on.

This year I find myself particularly drawn to the name “O Sun of Justice.”  I pray to be in union with the Just One.  We all long for the light and warmth of a world that reflects the merciful justice of its Creator. 

In this society rent with so many divisions, I desire to be able to reach across the chasms and make a difference.  Instead, I avoid difficult conversations even in my own family.  Instead, I continue to listen to the media sources that I agree with, notreally trying to understand other points of view. Communion seems so out of reach, if I cannot appreciate diversity.  Since God is near, so is God’s grace.  I can rejoice in hope to do better.

I contemplate also the masses of people suffering the terrors of war.  How they long for the justice that brings peace!  Long for God’s intervention in a situation that holds so little hope.  I pray that someday soon they will be able to look to the sky and see not bombs but beauty.  I join in writing letters to advocate for them, and I pray for safety and a rebirth of hope. I pray that they may somehow hold on to the faith that God is near in even the worst situation.

O Sun of Justice, come into our broken world.  Where there is division, teach us the ways of peace.  Help us find the ways to bring true rejoicing to spirits that are so burdened and broken.  May we learn to reflect your rays in this time and place.

Come, Brother Jesus, Come.