THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT - CYCLE A - DECEMBER 11, 2016
Today the liturgy invites us to rejoice because the Lord is near.
FIRST READING - Is 35:1-6a, 10
v We hear again the prophet Isaiah who comes with a message of hope and joy.
v The text has three different parts, but all of them invite us to rejoice.
v Verses 1 and 2 give a description of how nature will show this joy, it will flourish, its beauty will be like the Carmel, and they will see the beauty of our God.
v Verses 3 and 4 are an invitation to all those who feel themselves humiliated, oppressed, cowards in front of suffering, those who are afraid, who doubt, to get back their strength, because God himself comes to set them free.
v Verses 5 and 6a describe what will happen to all of them when the presence of God will be a reality: the blind shall see, the ears that are closed will be opened, the tongue that does not know how to speak, will sing.
v Verse 10 is like the finale of a great opera, when all the characters come together, the prophet Isaiah repeats his theme about joy, which has become an exuberant joy, because those that have been ransomed come back singing, dancing, then suffering and evil will be no more.
v The Gospel will tell us that this presence of God among us is Jesus.
v Each one of us may enter in his or her own heart and remember the joy when our life changed. Peace and joy came when we welcomed the Lord and allowed him to be part of our personal history.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM : Psalm 146
LORD, COME AND SAVE US
The Lord God keeps faith forever
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets captives free.
LORD, COME AND SAVE US
The Lord gives sight to the blind
the Lord raises up those who were bowed down
the Lord loves the just.
the Lord protects strangers
LORD, COME AND SAVE US
The fatherless and the widow he sustains
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The Lord shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.
LORD, COME AND SAVE US
This psalm sings the tender love of God and the care he takes of all of us his children of all times.
The Lord loves the just, the just who is like Him, and the Lord thwarts the way of the wicked. We know, looking at Jesus, that this sentence of the psalm does not mean that God takes vengeance or destroys, on the contrary, like a good father God looks for ways to have his children come back to the father's home, even if these may cause suffering.
The Lord reigns loving all of us.
GOSPEL Mt 11:2-11
Ø We see again John the Baptist.
Ø John is not baptizing anymore
Ø It is the sunset of this prophet of fire, he cannot go from one place to another, but his tongue continues to challenge Herod and all of us as well.
Ø In prison he hears about Jesus, and he is confused, he does not understand, this is not what he understood God had communicated to him. This is not what Isaiah had foretold about the coming of the Lord among us.
Ø When God would come he would destroy the designs and the ways of the wicked.
Ø But, on the contrary, he hears that Jesus is different, this young prophet sits at table with sinners, allows prostitutes to get close to him, he allows also sick women to touch him to be cured, he hugs the children... John does not understand Jesus' behavior.
Ø At the beginning when he baptized Jesus, John was happy because the one who had to come was already present, but now he is not sure about that.
Ø He sends some of his disciples to Jesus to ask him "Are you the one who has to come or should we look for another?
Ø Jesus does not give a direct answer, but he tells them to report to John what they have seen, so that he may understand that what Isaiah had prophesized is taking place already.
Ø The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are made clean, the deaf hear, the dead come back to life, the good news is preached to the poor.
Ø And happy those who take no offense at him, but are able to discover en him the presence of the God who saves loving.
Ø When the messengers left Jesus speaks about John:
v He is not a reed that moves according to the direction of the wind; John does not change his message or his life, even faced with death.
v He does not dress in fine clothes, those who do so live in palaces, but John lives in the desert.
v John is more than a prophet, he is the prophet foretold in the Old Testament, the one who was going to prepare the way of the Lord.
v he is the greatest of those born of woman, but the least in the kingdom is greater than John.
Ø When we allow the Lord to be our king, to be the Lord of our life, to lead our life, what the Lord told the disciples of John take place in us.
v We begin to look at reality, the human beings, at ourselves in a different way, we see our truth and thus we begin a journey of conversion.
v We journey seeking justice and truth.
v We come to the Lord to be cleaned from our leprosy.
v And even more, we have ears to listen to the cry of our brothers and sisters who are suffering in any way.
v We accept our poverty and seek to live in poverty, with what is necessary, so that we may listen to the Gospel message of salvation.
v Blessed are we if Jesus can say of us that we are not a reed that moves according to the wind, and also blessed are we if what Jesus preaches does not cause us offense at him
SECOND READING Jas 5,7-10
Before we look at the reading itself, let us say a few words about this letter
Due to his name the author could be any of the three men with this name in the New Testament. James the brother of John, James the son of Alpheus. It is not probable that they could be the authors. There is the third one called the brother of the Lord.
For a certain time the theory of his authorship of the letter was accepted, however after much research this theory does not seem to be possible. Why?
The Hellenistic language and the literary style used in the letter, the Bible quotations taken from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. Being a Jew, even being a follower of Jesus, he would not have used this Greek translation of the Bible.
It is believed to be a letter written by someone who use the name of James as a pseudonym
The addressees are probably the communities or churches from Asia and Europe.
The literary style, although this work is called a letter, is more like one of the wisdom books of the Old Testament.
The content is a series of instructions on the Christian life and behavior.
Let us see what the passage for this Sunday tells us:
ü The author invites the community to be patient, and gives the comparison of the farmer's patience, waiting for the appropriate time to get the fruit of his labor.
ü He invites them also to strengthen their heart, to be firm, why? Because the LORD IS NEAR.
ü Do not complain about one another, because the Judge of all is at the door.
ü He ends with an invitation to look at the hardships endured by the prophets from the past, who spoke in the name of the Lord.
ü All these advices will help us to make real what the prophet Isaiah announced and Jesus accomplished.
POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION AMORIS LÆTITIA
Love is not boastful
97. The following word, perpereúetai, denotes vainglory, the need to be haughty, pedantic and somewhat pushy. Those who love not only refrain from speaking too much about themselves, but are focused on others; they do not need to be the centre of attention. The word that comes next – physioútai – is similar, indicating that love is not arrogant. Literally, it means that we do not become “puffed up” before others. It also points to something more subtle: an obsession with showing off and a loss of a sense of reality. Such people think that, because they are more “spiritual” or “wise”, they are more important than they really are. Paul uses this verb on other occasions, as when he says that “knowledge puffs up”, whereas “love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1). Some think that they are important because they are more knowledgeable than others; they want to lord it over them. Yet what really makes us important is a love that understands, shows concern, and embraces the weak. Elsewhere the word is used to criticize those who are “inflated” with their own importance (cf. 1 Cor 4:18) but in fact are filled more with empty words than the real “power” of the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 4:19).
98. It is important for Christians to show their love by the way they treat family members who are less knowledgeable about the faith, weak or less sure in their convictions. At times the opposite occurs: the supposedly mature believers within the family become unbearably arrogant. Love, on the other hand, is marked by humility; if we are to understand, forgive and serve others from the heart, our pride has to be healed and our humility must increase. Jesus told his disciples that in a world where power prevails, each tries to dominate the other, but “it shall not be so among you” (Mt 20:26). The inner logic of Christian love is not about importance and power; rather, “whoever would be first among you must be your slave” (Mt 20:27). In family life, the logic of domination and competition about who is the most intelligent or powerful destroys love. Saint Peter’s admonition also applies to the family: “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility towards one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Pet 5:5).
NOLAN, Albert, Jesus Before Christianity, 1976.
PAGOLA, José Antonio. El Camino abierto por JESUS. 2012.
POPE FRANCIS, POST-SYNODAL APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION AMORIS LÆTITIA
SCHÖKEL, Luis Alonso, Comentarios en la Biblia de Nuestro Pueblo. 2010.