The Third Sunday of Advent
Typically, my Advent advice (to myself and others) is to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the season through quiet meditation and introspective reflection on the true meaning of the season. While this is still sound practice amidst the over-commercialization of Christmas and the franticly hectic pace of our lives, today’s readings suggest a different perspective; one which requires less navel-gazing and more engagement in the dramatic and dynamic transformation that the coming of the Messiah brings about.
The first reading from the prophet Isaiah opens with a proclamation that paints a vivid metaphor. The coming of the Messiah shall bring life and beauty just as a spring rain suddenly and unexpectedly brings forth abundant flowers of unimaginable color to a drab and seemingly lifeless desert. A few verses on, the prophet foreshadows today’s gospel passage in which John the Baptist inquires as to whether Jesus is in fact, the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus replies to John’s disciples, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”
While it is good to be quiet and reflective during the Advent season, we must not think of Christ’s coming as an event that brings calm serenity. Instead, his arrival prompts an abrupt, even jarring interruption in our day-to-day lives. When we open ourselves to him, Christ transforms our existence and reorients our lives in ways that radically alter who we are and how we relate to others. He comes to give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, health to those sick or injured... in essence, Christ comes to give life where once there was death.
In what ways will the welcoming of Christ transform us today? Are we prepared to have our lives upended by his presence among us and within us this Christmas and forever?!
Kenneth D. Snyder
Associate Academic Dean
The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity