Third Sunday of Advent (A)
December 11, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.

                                                                                                   Victor Meirelles (1832–1903)

Introit

 

 

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Let your forbearance be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious over anything; but in all manner of prayer, let your requests be made known unto God.  Ps/. Lord, you have blessed your land; you have put an end to Jacob's captivity.

 

"The Introit is derived from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (4:4) and is well adapted to the occasion. The Lord is now very close at hand, and at this announcement the heart overflows with joy. Yet this joy is in complete contrast to that to which the world gives itself up, for it is the fruit of inward peace which the Holy Spirit communicates to the soul when it remains faithful to God’s holy will" (Ildefonso Schuster).

Kyrie

 

Collect

O God, who see how your people
faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity,
enable us, we pray,
to attain the joys of so great a salvation
and to celebrate them always
with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading Is 35:1-6a, 10

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10.

R/. 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.

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.

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.

Gradual

 

O Lord, who are enthroned upon the Cherubim, stir up your might and come forth. Vs. O Shepherd of Israel, hear us, you who lead Joseph like a flock.

“The Gradual comes from Psalm lxxix, which we have already seen in the Introit of the preceding Sunday. He who sits tranquil above the Cherubim of his glory, and guides the
destinies of mankind, is about to come in all his power to subdue his agelong enemy. The alleluiatic verse belongs to the same psalm.”

Second Reading Jas 5:7-10

Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Alleluia Is 61:1 (cited in Lk 4:18)

Stir up your might, O Lord, and come to save us.

Gospel Mt 11:2-11

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
"Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?"
Jesus said to them in reply,
"Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me."

As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
"What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out?  To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.

Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."

Reflection Questions:

How are you needing to hear the words, “Be strong.  Fear not?”

What is trying your patience these days?

What tempts you to ask, “Are you the One who is to come, or should we look for another?”

Catena Nova

John was a voice, but the Lord in the beginning was the Word. John was a voice for a time, Christ the eternal Word in the beginning. Take away the word and what is a voice? When it conveys no meaning, it is just an empty sound. A wordless voice strikes theear, but it does not make the heart grow…. Since it is difficult to distinguish the voice and the word, John himself was thought to be Christ. The voice was taken to be the Word. But the voice admitted his identity, lest he might displease the Word. I am not the Christ, he said, nor Elijah, nor the prophet. In reply to, Who are you? he said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, the voice of one breaking the silence. Prepare the way of the Lord, is as though he said: I cry out to lead him into your heart – but he will not condescend to come where I am leading, unless you prepare the way. What does to prepare the way mean, except to pray as you ought, to be humble-minded? Take an example of humility from John himself. He is thought to be the Christ, but he says he is not what people think. He does not use the mistake of others to feed his own pride. Suppose he had said: I am the Christ. How easily would he have been believed, since that was what people were thinking before he spoke! But he did not say it. He acknowledged who he was, distinguished himself from Christ, humbled himself. (St. Augustine of Hippo)

We are in Advent. We remember that a woman held in her arms a child, and that child was God. If we remember that, then we are givers of peace, we are lovers of the Beloved. We own him through love. And he owns us! the most extraordinary thing in the world is that God loves you and me!" (Catherine de Hueck Doherty)

If you…are preparing to commemorate the Incarnation of the Word in loving, watchful expectation, today’s happy announcement will resound in your ears more joyfully than ever: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice... the Lord is nigh….” For the soul who waits for Jesus and seeks Him alone, sincerely and ardently, with lively desire and love, there can be only one motive for its joy, to know that Jesus is near, nearer with each day….The more a soul concentrates its desires and affections on God, the more it will be freed from earthly cares. It will no longer be troubled about anything, knowing that only one thing is necessary, “to seek God,” and that in God it will find everything it needs. Hence to draw near to God, is to find not only true joy, but also peace. In Him it has everything, and God alone suffices (Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalene)

Christians are to grow in their vocation as Christ’s messengers, preachers of peace and of the good news.  The Lord is near at hand; not many words, not the loud strife of action, only peaceful living, indestructible peace of heart, quiet joy that give its light to the face have any effect (Aemiliana Löhr)

[T]he joy that Christians have is both a gift and a responsibility….All that they have is intended for those who have not. They must be affirmative, positive people, so that the negaters, the fault-finders, those who smell ideology everywhere, may meet with a resistance against which their criticism will smash itself to pieces. Amidst all the fear that characterizes our time, we Christians are summoned to live in joy and to communicate joy—joy in spite of fear, joy in the midst of fear….Nor is this an artificially produced joy but one that is simply a gift from God. It alone can change hearts and hence conditions (Hans Urs von Balthasar).

It is a terrifying thing to have been born: I mean, to find oneself, without having willed it, swept irrevocably along on a torrent of fearful energy which seems as though it wished to destroy everything it carries with it. What I want, my God, is that by a reversal of forces which you alone can bring about, my terror in face of the nameless changes destined to renew my being may be turned into an overflowing joy at being transformed into you….For me, my God, all joy and all achievement, the very purpose of my being and all my love of life, all depend on this one basic vision of the union between yourself and the universe. Let others, fulfilling a function more august than mine, proclaim your splendours as pure Spirit; as for me, dominated as I am by a vocation which springs from the inmost fibres of my being, I have no desire, I have no ability, to proclaim anything except the innumerable prolongations of your incarnate Being in the world of matter; I can preach only the mystery of your flesh, you the Soul shining forth though all that surrounds us.  (Teilhard de Chardin)

John the Baptist is so closely associated with the beginning of Jesus’ ministry that it’s easy to see them as two of a kind. Both preached repentance. Both died the death of a martyr. But if the two of them saw eye to eye, why would John send his disciples to ask Jesus if Jesus was “the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” (Mt. 11: 3) As is usually the case when asked any kind of question, Jesus gives only an indirect answer. He lists the miracles that are happening such as the blind receiving their sight and the lame walking. Then he caps it off with the cryptic and seemingly incoherent words: “And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.” (Mt. 11: 6) The implication is that John is taking offense at Jesus, or is in danger of doing so. If Jesus is concerned that John, his onetime mentor, might take offense at him, what about his followers? What about us? So why might John or we take offence at Jesus? Both Jesus and John called for repentance but John’s warnings were accompanied by images of wrath: an axe at the tree, a winnowing fork, fire. John’s preaching can be heard as a renewal of Isaiah’s prophecy of hope: creating a highway through the desert as God did to bring the Jews back from the Babylonian exile, opening the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, coming with vengeance and “a terrible recompense.” (Is. 35) If we tick the boxes of Jesus’ ministry, there is a check mark for each item except for the “terrible recompense.” There are also no axes, winnowing forks, or fire in Jesus’ preaching. Perhaps John felt like an emcee announcing a dramatic act only to get a puff when he thought he’d get an explosion. When we think of the people in our lives and public figures who affect us that we sincerely think are “a brood of vipers,” do we want the wrath they are fleeing to fall on them? Are there people we think should be chopped down and thrown into the fire? If we harbor the same vengeful feelings, we are scandalized by these people. How then do we feel about a preaching ministry where the poor and the peacemakers are blessed and we are asked to forgive those who scandalize us? Are we scandalized at the idea of renouncing vengeance against these people? If so, then we are taking offense at Jesus and we are not blessed. The earnest moral sense and integrity of John the Baptist represents the best humanity has to offer but “the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” That is, as soon as we take even the smallest of baby steps in the way of forgiveness and not being scandalized by seriously scandalous people, we are better than the best humanity can offer. There’s nothing to be proud of here. Jesus healed the cripple when he forgave his sins. This same forgiveness heals us and gives us the strength to take these baby steps into the Kingdom of God. (Abbot Andrew Marr)

Homily

 

Creed

 

Intercessions (Mary Grace Melcher)

That our holy shepherds in the church
may prolong in our midst the role of John
the Baptist, preparing the way of the Lord
in our hearts by their preaching and the
witness of their lives.

For the prophets of our own day, especially
those who suffer for their stance on justice
and morality, that they may have the faith
in Jesus which will see them through their
time of trial.

For the grace of patience in our relations
with ourselves, with one another, and with
our God; for the gift of graceful waiting
during the slow process of growth and
progress.

That we may enlarge our expectations of
God, who promises more joy and glory
than we know how to imagine, and that
our faith may create the space God looks
for to fill with His blessing.

That Jesus, who gave sight to the blind and
cured lepers and made the deaf hear, may
also hear us when we intercede for those
who are most in need of healing and mercy

That our faithful departed may be among
God’s ransomed ones who enter Zion
singing and crowned with everlasting joy.

God of glory and compassion,
at your touch the wilderness blossoms,
broken lives are made whole,
and fearful hearts grow strong in faith.
Open our eyes to your presence
and awaken our hearts to sing your praise.
To all who long for your Son’s return
grant perseverance and patience,
that we may announce in word and deed
the good news of the kingdom.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant

 

Thou hast blessed, Lord, thy land; thou hast brought the house of Jacob back from captivity and forgiven the sins of thy people.

“The Offertory is taken, like the Introit, from Psalm lxxxiv. The coming of our Lord on earth is the blessing promised by Jehovah to Abraham; it is freedom from slavery, it is the remission of sins.”

Offertory Hymn

 

Long is our winter, dark is our night;

O come, set us free, O saving Light!

Come set us free, O saving Light,

O come dwell among us, O saving Light!

Communion Chant

 

 

Say: "Take courage, you who are fainthearted, and do not fear; behold, our God will come and he will save us." Ps/. The desert and the parched land will exult; *the steppe will rejoice and bloom.

 

“In the Communion comes a last invitation to timid souls : “ Fear not: it is no longer a prophet, a lawgiver, a scribe,as under the old Covenant, but God himself who comes to save you ” (Isa. xxxv, 4).”

Closing Hymn

 

The desert shall rejoice

and blossom as a rose:

It shall blossom abundantly

and rejoice with praise and singing.

The desert….

for the ears of the deaf shall hear

and the blind, their eyes shall be opened.

The desert…

for the tongue of the mute shall sing

and the lame will dance with gladness.

The desert…

for the ground will become a pool

and the dry land springs of water.

The desert…

as the ransomed return to God

and come singing back to Zion.

The desert…

unto Zion we come with joy

for our God has come to save us.


 

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