Word To Life
Sunday Scripture Readings, Dec. 11, 2011
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
December 11, Third Sunday of Advent
Cycle B Readings:
1) Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Luke 1:46-50, 53-54
2) 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28
Walking the shore of a local lake at dawn some years ago, I encountered a man in his mid-20s walking in the opposite direction. The sunrise was magnificent: golden yellows, pinks and blues mingling dramatically in the clouds.
He was amazed. "I didn't know sunrises like this existed," he said. "I'd only seen them in paintings."
It was a gorgeous but very real masterpiece of a sunrise, and he was impelled to tell someone else how magnificent it was, to share that experience with another human being.
That's what the new evangelization is like: each of us appreciating afresh the wonder that is the incarnation of Jesus, each of us unable to contain our joyful reaction to this great good news.
The readings for this week's joyful Gaudete Sunday of Advent are full of excitement at Jesus' coming birth. Isaiah anticipates the awaited Messiah, the Lord's anointed, who will be sent "to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives ... to announce a year of favor from the Lord."
Mary's canticle, delivered on hearing the news that she would bear God's son, praises God's gift of favor on her, his lowly servant.
Then, in John's Gospel, John the baptizer points toward the coming Savior as one who is already among the people, but whom they do not recognize, one who is so great that John is unworthy to untie his sandal.
How can we not be filled with joyful anticipation, seeing anew how great is the compassion and the salvation that is offered us by our God.
This same enthusiasm for the Gospel spread like wildfire among the native peoples of the Americas in the 16th century after Mary appeared to one of them as a young, pregnant Aztec woman, in Aztec clothing. Millions of native people converted to Christianity as a result of that event in which Mary opened the door to the Gospel.
Get ready. Soon we will celebrate Jesus' first coming, even as we anticipate his second. He is among us even as we await him.
Can we recognize him and point him out to others?
How can you live your life in charity toward others in a way that shows that Jesus is among us? How can you prepare yourself to be ready to share this great good news, lovingly, when the opportunity presents itself?
SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:
"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17).
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