Our opening prayer for the Third Sunday of Advent provides us with insight that something big is coming:
“O God, who see how your people faithfully await the feast of the Lord’s Nativity, enable us, we pray, to attain the joys of so great a salvation and to celebrate them always with solemn worship and glad rejoicing.”
During the Advent season, our culture bombards us with advertisements, lights, music, and of course— Hallmark Movies! Amidst it all, however, the Church instructs us to wait, be patient, and open our eyes to the holiness unfolding around us.
Today, as we find ourselves closer to Christmas, our readings provide us with rich images. For our part, we are encouraged to allow them into our hearts. There, we will encounter the prophet Isaiah (35:1-6, 10) reminding us that God’s faithful will see the desert and parched land exult and the steppe bloom with abundant flowers. Truly, the glory of the Lord will be on display. And with his eyes on the second coming of Our Lord, St. James (5:7-10) advises us to be like wise farmers: See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth. See how he is patient and allows the earth and late rains to bring everything about.
A few years ago, a permanent deacon in a neighboring diocese told a powerful story that occurred during his years of formation. He noted that when he and his wife learned that their already large family of seven children would be enriched by an eighth, there was much excitement. Not long after receiving this news, however, doctors informed them that their unborn child would be a special-needs child. In the days following, all the way up to her birth, he recounted that he couldn’t stop worrying—about the future. Who would care for her when he and his wife were gone?
Shortly after her birth, he extended his hand over her and asked God to heal her. But at that very moment, he recalled feeling an oppressive spiritual attack from the devil. A few weeks later, while praying, he felt as though he had been struck by lightning when a real strong power flowed through his heart. In the silence, he heard the Lord say to him:
“I promise you that you will see my glory in your daughter’s life. And the second thing is this, I’m not going to heal her because she is not the person who is handicapped. The person who is handicapped is you because you are judging her.”
Today, the deacon feels that each time his daughter looks at him, it is though the Lord himself is looking at him—through her.
In our Gospel (Matthew 11:2-11), John the Baptist tells his disciples to go find Jesus and ask him if he is the One who was to come. In answering them, Jesus asked them to relay to John what they’ve heard and seen, namely that: the blind now see; the lame now walk; the lepers have been cleansed; the deaf now hear; and that the dead have been raised.
On the Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist called out to us: “Prepare the way of the Lord.” Today, we light the third candle of the Advent wreath and are asked to consider the joy associated with the coming of the Savior.
What do we see?
Right here, right now, do we see beyond the many advertisements and lights? Do we see the true gifts given us by the King of Kings? Do we see God’s handiwork in our families, friends, and loved ones? If so, we are on the right track. For we see the love that surrounds us.
But, if we don’t see these things, we should know that there is still time. We need only open our eyes and hearts to them. For it is Jesus’ love that brings them all.