The Third Sunday of Advent
December 13, 2020 At St. William Church in Naples, FL
Isaiah 61, 1-2 & 10-11 + Psalm Luke 1,46-38 + 1 Thessalonians 5, 16 -24 + John 1, 6-8 & 19-28
Something invisible has crossed every boarder on this earth revealing how intimately connected we are across our entire planet. We cannot help but be moved and saddened by the number of families who will celebrate this Christmas without someone greatly loved, and we cannot help but be troubled by those who deny the truth that the actions of one have real effects on all. We are all one body and one people whether our skin color is the same or our language. Strangely, while we have been in less physical contact with one another, many of us have begun to see others and our Earth with greater clarity than ever before. The inability to meet in person has led many of us to virtual face-to-face encounters with people miles and continents away. I suspect that with live-streaming Mass, many are attentive to Mass and the Word of God more than they have in the past.
Even so, something is missing. Our Communion in faith is on “hold” for too many now. More than receiving the Holy Eucharist, it is a matter of being in union with the whole church, in the very physical presence of others who sit close beside us in silent prayer sensing the intimacy and presence that Jesus Christ so desired for his people. It is a challenge to hear this day’s call to Joy. The question of how we are to rejoice with so many suffering people crowded into hospitals, so many grieving, so many cut off from their sick loved ones rumbles through us like spring thunder.
The prophet who cries out in our midst today offers something to consider, and encourages us to pay attention to the ways God has acted among us transforming us through these days into a people who no longer take for granted good health, friends and family nearby, and the communion we are so privileged to receive so easily and so often.
John the Baptist stands before us today as he did last week, and we hear his firm and confident response to those who want to know who he is. Reflecting on this moment in John’s Gospel ought to lead us to wonder if anyone is asking who we are, and if they did, could we answer as firmly and with such conviction as did he?
I believe that what gave John such confidence and such clarity about his identity is that he knew the one who was to come and show him the way home.
For us who are so gifted with faith and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no tragedy and no virus that can keep us from bearing witness to the one who is to come by our confident joy, our steadfast hope, our desire to be one in love with all of God’s children who are brother and sister. Christ Jesus is our home, my friends, and like old Isaiah the prophet who has spoken here today, in the middle of bad times we can say without hesitation what he proclaimed to suffering Israel:
I rejoice heartily in the Lord. In my god is the Joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice. Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels, as the earth brings forth its plants and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.