The Third Sunday of Advent, – 17 December, 2017
Isaiah 61: 1:2a, 10-11 Ps. Luke 1:46-50, 53-54 1 Thess. 5: 16-24 John 1:6-8, 19-28
In Chapter 4 of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth. He then went to the synagogue on the sabbath “as was his custom.” He stood up and read from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah the passage that is today’s reading. It was the beginning of his public ministry in Galilee. I have always thought that Jesus saw this as his “job description.” As his disciples, I believe it is ours as well. Jesus is filled with the joy of God’s love and recognizes that healing and justice is called for everywhere he would go.
Our Psalm of rejoicing is one that we hear put into the mouth of Mary – an ancient prayer echoing her ancestor in faith, Hannah (2 Sam 1-10). It is one of gratitude and hope in God’s promise and mercy.
Paul’s letter to the community of Thessaloniki is thought to be the earliest writing in the entire New Testament. It was most likely written in Corinth or Athens around 50 C.E. It therefore predates the four Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. It is a most encouraging letter to this new community as they have hope that the second coming of Jesus would come in their lifetime. Paul gently reminds them to Rejoice, in the deeper sense of God’s abiding love and care, despite the sufferings and trials of daily life. He call them to pray in the midst of whatever is happening in their lives and give thanks for God’s presence no matter what injustice is encountered. Trusting in God will enable them to show compassion and give them the strength to work for justice for all those around them.
The Gospel of John introduces John, the baptizer, the preparer of the way. He is questioned by the people as to his identity. He responds that he is a “voice crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the lord.” John leads them to Jesus as he points them to the one who will bring justice into the world, making things “right” with God; preparing a just world, repenting of greed. His message is both hopeful and joyful.
Gaudete Sunday links joy, prayer and gratitude. Each one flows into the next and is cause for rejoicing. God IS among us. So let us indeed REJOICE!
For reflection and discussion: Do you ever feel anger as you see the injustices around you? Does this lead you to action? Have you experienced great works of charity coming from strong emotions and holy anger? Where? Who has paved a way and been a model for you in this kind of wilderness?How do we as disciples 2000 years later join in solidarity with other to help to heal the brokenness around us and share hope with so many who are hopeless?
* Pope Francis believes in the Joy of the Gospel .*
(and today, 17 December, is actually his 81st Birthday!! -Ad multos annos!)
This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by
Mary Louise Chesley-Cora, MAT in Religious Studies
Hockessin DE USA
Bat Kol Alumna 2001
[Copyright © 2017]
PLEASE NOTE: The weekly Gospel commentaries represent the research and creative thought of their authors, and are meant to stimulate deeper thinking about the meaning of the Sunday Scriptures. While they draw upon the study methods and sources employed by the Bat Kol Institute, the views and conclusions expressed in these commentaries are solely those of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Bat Kol. Questions, comments and feedback are always welcome.
Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies, Jerusalem
“Christians Studying the Bible within its Jewish milieu, using Jewish Sources.”