December 10, 2020: Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, Dec. 13, 2020

By Theresa Wiggs, Notre Dame Associate

The first reading from Isaiah is full of hopeful messages, beautiful imagery, and rewards for prayer and being faithful to our God: Glad tidings to the poor, healing for the sick, liberty for prisoners, plants coming from the earth and a bride bedecked with her jewels! How could anyone read this and not feel comfort and encouragement? These words, written so long ago, are needed and bring hope to our world battling a pandemic; dealing with social injustice and divisive politics. Let us each rejoice that our faith holds so much hope and promise, if only we turn to Him and turn down the divisive messages we hear from the news, or a friend or even loved one we disagree with. Local, national and world news can be a source of distress, or an opportunity to pray and trust in God’s plan. The reading ends with,”… Lord God make justice and praise spring before all the nations”. Let this be our prayer and focus this week.

Our Psalm response says, “My Soul Rejoices in my God.” It is sometimes hard to remember that true joy comes from this reliable and readily available source. We need only ask and we will receive His comfort; “He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation”!

The second reading from Thessalonians says, “Pray without ceasing.” This may sound like a “big ask”, but is it really? We can commit to making prayer a part of our day in simple ways: Say a short prayer at each stop light we encounter. Stop and pray before we make any decision, even the small ones, Pause, quickly ask for God’s guidance before replying to someone that says something hurtful. This may not be the way we are used to praying, or may not add to your already rich prayer life. For me, when a friend suggested this, I have found it to be helpful and calming, especially on challenging days filled with business. This Advent season and preparing family events for Christmas amidst the challenges of the pandemic has given me many chances to practice this kind of prayer.

The Gospel is a familiar one; John is baptizing people seeking a savior and confronted by others. Some challenge John or perhaps try to trick him into saying, “I am Christ, Elijah, or a prophet, which I imagine could have gotten him into trouble! John stays faithful to his role and to his friend and Lord, Jesus. He is humble and leaves those gathered with hope of someone else to come. “I Baptize you with water, but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one is coming after me, whose sandal straps I am not worthy to untie.” We have already encountered Jesus in Baptism. We look forward to meeting him in Heaven. But, we only have to look back to our baptism or look forward to our final reward; We meet the Universal Christ each day, in prayer, in a loved one’s kind gesture, in the eyes of a stranger, and within ourselves when we pray. May this third week of Advent bring you many opportunities to see Christ in others and be Christ to them.