December 9, 2020
Third Sunday of Advent Reflection by Dee Sproule - Apostle of the Resurrection
First Reading: Is. 61:1-2A, 10–11 Second Reading: 1 Thes. 5:16-24 Gospel: Jn.1: 6–8, 19-28
Lighting the third candle on our Advent wreath brings a stunning awareness that we can all use a little “joy” in our lives right now! This pandemic has “gone on long enough”! Yet each daily news report of our increasing case numbers makes us painfully aware that we are still very much in the pandemic! So the bright, surprise of the pink candle naturally brings a smile to our faces as we sense a respite, a reprieve from all the contrition and heaviness, even if only briefly. We are reminded that we are people of hope! We are believers in the Resurrection! We are anointed, “sent to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God” (Is. 61.1-2). Now that’s an Advent “to-do list”! This third week of anticipation is a challenge to step aside of our own concerns and focus our attention outside of ourselves. The surest path to improving our outlook is to do something for someone else. When we reach out to help make someone’s load a little lighter, or to raise the spirits of someone who is struggling, we leave our concerns behind and often see our own worries from a different perspective. We need not look very far to see someone who is mired in despair, frustration, loneliness or fatigue and each of us is called to bring the light of Christ to those who are suffering. We can assure them that however much cause for despair they may see around them, there is still hope in the world because God is still in charge and God can bring joy out of any situation. And sometimes, all it takes to raise someone's spirits is to take a moment for them, to notice them, to remember them. Often, we can be light-bearers in the simplest of ways through a smile (even from behind a mask!), a kind word, a listening ear or an instant message. Our second reading exhorts: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thes. 5:16-22). Solid advice to manage our own stress, as well as the concerns of those to whom we reach out, throughout these remaining days of Advent, and the pandemic!
We have work to do and we have been graced with all we need to do that work!
We can “rejoice heartily in the Lord … the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.” (Is.1.10).
“May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.” (1 Thes. 5:23-4)
Questions for Reflection
Who do we know could use a little “pick-me-up” visit via Zoom or Skype, or a phone call, and what plans can we make to reach out to them?
How do I “release prisoners and set captives free”? (This might mean taking some time to reflect on the gifts which God has given me.)
What do I need to do for myself that will free up some space in my mind and heart to think of and do for others?
Read chapter 61 of Isaiah, from several varying translations. Notice the nuance of meaning, how the emotional or intellectual effect shifts within us with the use of different words or phrases.