December 16, 2019
All three readings on this third Sunday of Advent offer us comforting words. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah says, “Have courage, do not be afraid” In the second reading, the letter of James points out: “Be patient! Do not lose heart!” In the gospel, we have the lovely words of Jesus spoken to his cousin John, “Happy the person who does not lose faith in me.” These words shared by prophets as Isaiah and Jesus and the apostle James were comforting words to those who heard them. They all found themselves in situations where there was devastation in their lives. The chosen people in the time of Isaiah and the early Christians in the first century were suffering at the hands of the great Roman Empire and their temple was destroyed: a sign of God’s presence to them. John the Baptist heard Jesus’ words while he was in prison feeling discouraged for his situation after all the preaching he did.
How often do we find ourselves in those same situations in our lives when we believe that we are doing such good in the sight of God, but misfortunes or setbacks occur? We find our faith in God tested and face the temptation of giving up hope. These are opportunities for us to turn to prayer, the sacraments and the support from the community of faith to open our hearts to renewed trust in God. When the darkness of sin, tragedy and hurt overwhelm us, God’s comforting words that were given through Jesus, James and Isaiah: “Do not be afraid; do not lose heart, I am with you” are words shared with us.