Bulletin: December 11, 2022
Third Sunday of Advent
Good news is good news is . . . Today’s messages from Isaiah (prophetic ancestor of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth) and James (spiritual offspring of John and Jesus) both have messages that resonate across the five centuries that separate them: hope in the coming power and presence of God. Isaiah was attempting to comfort and encourage the people of Israel in geographic and spiritual exile. Their exile will end, Isaiah says, with God’s presence shown forth through spectacular occurrences in nature. James likewise has a community in need of encouragement and hope, since they despair over the delayed parousia, the final coming of God in glory. In the meantime, James urges patient endurance. Until Jesus returns, they ought to persist without complaint, with the lives of the prophets as their guide. Then will come the time of sight, and healing, and life and … Good News for the poor!
PATIENCE . . . NOW!
A friend walked me through his newly planted garden to help me see how it would look in spring. He finally stopped and said, “You can’t picture any of this, can you?” I couldn’t until I saw it in full bloom the following springtime. Then I could understand why he planted the seeds where he had. Then I saw the beauty and bounty that his planting represented. “Tell John what you hear and see,” Jesus says to John’s disciples. The signs of the Messiah proclaimed by the prophets are beginning to bloom. Look and see! Hear the singing of those once mute and the rejoicing of the crowds who witness these works. The beauty and the bounty of our generous God are all around.
James wrote to a community experiencing hardship, like the exiled Israelites in today’s first reading. Isaiah and James exhort people to trust that they will see God’s presence in their midst once again, so be patient. That’s easier said than done, isn’t it? Saint Francis de Sales says to be patient with everyone, and most of all with ourselves. Patience means accepting suffering and delay without becoming angry or upset. Easier said than done. Praying for this virtue each day, sometimes often throughout the day, does help. Breathe in the Spirit of God and say, “Give me patience, Lord.” Then exhale anger, upset, and impatience. Staring at a garden won’t make a shoot spring up any faster; however, giving thanks for the seed, the water, the soil, and the Giver of all life can deepen our trust that the garden will grow. So be patient. Rejoice always. See and be the signs of God’s beauty and bounty in our world today.