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Engaging the Word: Third Sunday of Advent

1st Reading: Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11 ~ Responsorial: Luke 1: 46-50, 53-54

2nd Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24 ~ Gospel: John 1: 6-8, 19-28

As we draw one week closer to the celebration of Christmas, we are reminded in the second reading from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians to rejoice always. If we have the eyes to see, we find that the Lord is always near, always at work among us. Sometimes, however, we need others to help us see the Creator at work, and our other readings today from Isaiah, Luke, and John each celebrate those who point to what God is doing and will do in our midst.

Isaiah shouts from the mountain top that God will triumph, calling us to faith, hope, and action. Mary’s Magnificat in Luke is used for the responsory this week in place of a Psalm. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord …” can also be translated “My soul magnifies the greatness of the Lord …” This magnification draws attention to what the Lord is doing; it points to the fact that God chooses to enter the world through a human yes. The greatness of God is that we have been created with freedom so that we might choose love. If God is the fullness of love, one might wonder how more love could be added to the equation, but God makes it possible by inviting creatures like us to cooperate freely by responding in love to God and one another. St. Irenaeus made the claim that the glory of God is the human person fully alive. Mary in her yes to the Lord points to this reality.

It is important, however, not to confuse that which points with that to which is pointed. In the reading from John’s Gospel, we hear John the Baptist adamantly assert that he is only announcing the one who is to come, helping to make ready the way of the Lord while helping to make his hearers ready to receive the Lord.

So, as we continue our Advent journey let’s be attentive to and celebrate those who put a magnifying glass on the Lord’s work among us, and let’s also remain attentive so that we might point out the Lord’s goodness to others who might be struggling to see it.



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