Reflection on the Third Sunday of Advent
Rejoice! Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice!
Every word of today’s readings tells us to rejoice because our feet are firmly planted in the goodness of God’s creation and we have nothing to fear. Isaiah promises that the desert will bloom, that cities will shine with splendor, that our feeble hands and knees will be strong and that our frightened hearts will meet with joy and gladness.
St. James counsels us to be patient and make our hearts firm. And Jesus himself proclaims that the blind see and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
There is a lot in the world to frighten us. Indeed fear is the food of unscrupulous politicians. It is easy to play on our fears from crime to the stock market to the overthrowing of the Constitution. We can allow ourselves to be afraid of one another. It is so interesting that James says it is up to us to make our hearts firm.
Love drives out fear. Hold that thought.
Jesus continues, after responding to questions on behalf of his cousin John the Baptist, What did you go out into the desert to see?
We go out in the desert to see an answer to our problems. We go out into the desert to find relief from our fear. Or maybe some of us go out into the desert to seek signs that foster our fear. My grandmother used to tell me not to be a “signs-and-wonders Catholic.” We all go looking around us, into our personal deserts, seeking answers, looking for proof. What is my path? Who am I? Who is God? What does death mean? And today the entire Liturgy says, “Rejoice. The desert is blooming. The poor have the Gospel preached to them.”
We go out into the desert to find love. And if we have eyes to see, we find a desert burgeoning with life — blooming flowers and bright birds and loving people. We rejoice because we know that God loves us and because we know that we have within ourselves the power to love one another, the power to make the desert bloom. Rejoice!