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  • Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

3rd Sunday of Advent (A)


On this Gaudete Sunday, we rejoice because the Lord is near … but are the only ones really looking forward to Christmas … the people who are waiting for Santa Claus? Many men and women are losing their patience over the long lines at stores, the traffic congestion, the mandatory parties, the same Christmas music over loudspeakers again and again and again, and frustration over what to give someone who has everything. Instead of rejoicing because the Lord is near, I think a lot of people might be praying that the Lord get it over with. Those sentiments were echoed by Amy Grant in her song “I Need a Silent Night.”

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Entrance Antiphon: Phil 4:4-5“Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.”

First Reading: Is 35:1-6a, 10“God Himself will come to save us.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 146:6-7, 8-9. 9-10“Lord, come and save us.”

Second Reading: Jas 5:7-10“Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

Alleluia: Is 61:1 (Lk 4:18)“Alleluia, alleluia. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. Alleluia, alleluia.”

Gospel: Mt 11:2-11“Are You the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”

Communion Antiphon: Is 35:4“Say to the faint of heart: Be strong and do not fear. Behold our God will come, and He will save us.”

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Without breaking the seal of the Confessional, I can tell you … Impatience ranks as one of the most confessed sins in the Church. Parents confess impatience toward their children, spouses toward one another, kids toward parents, priests toward their colleagues and sometimes … their parishioners … patients toward their doctors and airlines toward their customers (… and vice versa)! And what about while driving on the road? I think it’s safe to say that we all genuinely pray for patience … to put up with the situation and not to blow our lids while our anger seethes. As someone once said redundantly, “Learning patience takes a lot of patience.”

In this weekend’s Second Reading, Saint James urges patience for his community. Patience is not the same as putting up with things that irritate us. God made promises to His people, and the people long and desire to see God’s vindication. Saint James tells us to be like farmers. They plant seeds, and they await great things to happen … in time.

John sends disciples to Jesus because he longs to know if the Messiah has come. Jesus told John’s disciples to report “what you see and hear.” Jesus tells them to “see and hear” that the deaf hear, the dumb speak, just as Isaiah predicted. Jesus communicates that everything Israel has hoped for arrives in His words and in His works.

People who grow tired of waiting may neglect to see and hear the good things God is doing. We may miss seeing and hearing some wonderful things Christ brings because we want our discomfort and frustrations to end. James invites Christians to patience by not grumbling against each other and judging each other. Over 2,000 years ago James knew that impatience may cause us to turn against each other … today in 2019, has anything really changed?

If Jesus told us to report “what you see and hear,” today … what would we tell Him? I bet some would report chaos, some would report gossip, and others a good dose of doom and gloom, especially if relying on commercial news. Jesus called us blest who live after John the Baptist and that we are even greater than he. We are privileged to see that many people who lived in darkness now walk in the light of faith:

  • people who could never walk to a church in countries where religion was suppressed a few years ago now can bring their families with them;

  • people burdened by past sinfulness are freed and celebrate God’s mercy;

  • countless men and women preach Good News to those who thought that no one cared.

If believing in Christ means anything, we know that God is slowly accomplishing His work … but we also know that we’d be hard-pressed to see any blossoms and flowers in the late autumn and early wintertime. On December 17th, the beginning of the octave before Christmas … the eight (8) days before the birth of the Christ Child, the Church begins to sing the “O antiphons,” recalling the longing of ancient Israel for God’s arrival among us. Jesus is the answer to our longings and the only way to true peace. We have all the more reason to call for patience in God’s saving power since grumbling and judgment appear so prevalent. At least, we pray for enough patience to see and hear the sounds of the peace that God brings to our lives every day, but especially throughout Advent and wonder and peace that Christ brings at Christmas and throughout the Christmas Season.

Jesus is the answer to the hungers of the human family. He reveals a God who is on our side in this “eternal covenant for the forgiveness of sins.” God is born among us, and in these sacramental signs, we “hear and see” in visible signs what God is up to among us: building a body of believers to spread that Good News. Be patient as the great things God is doing unravel, during Advent, Christmastime, and every day.

#Advent #03rd #Gaudete #joy #patience

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