[Prayers of the Faithful for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8th) now available above.]
Scripture and Gospel Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent (December 11th)
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.”
(Isaiah 61:1–2, 10–11 NRSV)
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
(John 1:6–8, 19–28 NRSV)
A question often asked to Jesus. There are many answers – he is love, mercy, friend, brother. Lovely words and true. But sometimes the answer will be not so easy. Whatever you do for the poor, the lonely, the hungry and anyone in need you do for me. I am especially close to them.
He lives in all of us
Somehow or other, he lives in all of us. We are immersed in the mystery we call God. All human life is in God and every human being.
The collection for the Society of St Vincent de Paul takes place in many parishes today. The demands on them are huge. What can I give today?
Why give? Because all are brothers and sisters. They have the right to justice. The house we build for someone in Africa is their right; the shelter we give to the homeless in Dublin is their right. Education, medical care are the duty of the state to provide and the right of us all.
None of us caused the problem of need and poverty – but we can all be part of the solution. By volunteer work, money, prayer, political activity and genuine friendship on behalf of the poor and with them. With Christ we welcome them and all in need – He is among us and we do not see him.
Donal Neary SJ
For the grace to give, I pray, dear Lord;
the grace to give of my talents and possessions in your service. For the grace to receive gifts gratefully. May our Christmas giving and receiving be in your name and in your love. Amen.