Third Sunday of Advent

Posted on December 14, 2022 View all Gospel Reflection

Today is Gaudete Sunday. However, sitting in a jail, our Gospel today tells us that John the Baptist felt more puzzled than happy.

Matthew’s Gospel does not say that John the Baptist was angry, but maybe he knew he wasn’t going to make it out alive. Since his life’s mission was getting people ready for the Messiah, he had to know whether or not Jesus was the Messiah.

Jesus told the messengers sent by John the Baptist to consider that Jesus was doing the very things that the Messiah was predicted to do according to the prophecy of Isaiah, which we heard in our First Reading:

“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.”

Notice that Jesus wanted the Baptizer to consider the signs and then deduce that Jesus is the Messiah, based on the evidence given, which is an example of the inductive approach that leads the listener to the conclusion.

Notice Jesus adds, “blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Jim Callahan notes that Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth did just that:

“Is not this the carpenter? [And] they took offense at Him.” It was an act of sheer arrogance for someone of Jesus’ lowly origins to speak out publicly. The fact is that we too have an awful time truly listening to and seeing God at work in those whom we think we know well. Yes, by God! He was the carpenter…

Maybe most of the time that’s the case with us too. Maybe we need to go back to our lessons from safety patrol: Stop, look and listen! Know a prophet when you see one; learn the wondrous truth when you hear it.”

[Source: Miracle worker: Mark 6:1-6 by Jim Callahan June 21, 2000, The Christian Century.]

Part of Gaudete Sunday is learning how to dance in the desert, as our Our First Reading from Isaiah 35:1 says: “The desert and the parched land will exult;…They will bloom with abundant flowers.”

Like John the Baptist, the danger and the beauty of the barren places of the soul. Our First Reading uses the metaphor of the desert to describe the pain and suffering we all experience. This suffering comes to us in many forms—death, confusion, loneliness, loss, and trials of many kinds.

Source: Marsha Crockett. Dancing in the Desert: Spiritual Refreshment for Your Parched Soul. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003.

It is just these types of lonely, painful moments that Jesus wants to redeem. John the Baptist got ministered to in prison by Jesus. He answered John’s question and complimented him to others, saying:

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.”

In the words of R. Schnackenburg:

“In human effort and in his prophetic function on earth John [the Baptist] is the greatest, but everyone who is allowed a share in God’s kingdom experiences an elevation in grace through God that cannot be achieved by even the mightiest human endeavor.”

Happiness and peace come from holiness and lies in knowing that we possess the good we seek, especially heaven which our ultimate goal in life, through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Happiness is also having a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?” she tells us at Guadalupe, which we celebrate tomorrow. She is the cause of our joy bringing us Jesus.

~Fr. Paul Berghout