Third Sunday of Advent


Is 61:1-2a, 10-11
Lk 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54
1 Thes 5:16-24
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28


The first reading for today (Isaiah 61:1-2) is a wonderfully encouraging message for our world:  Good news is coming to the poor, broken hearts will be made whole again, freedom is approaching for the enslaved, and God himself will turn this upside-down world right-side up, vindicating those patiently longing for His justice.
And yet, this is a difficult passage for me, for this is not an abstract message, but one pointing directly at me. How am I to bring joy to this world that is deeply grieving? The young daughter of a friend recently lost her life in a tragedy, leaving his heart shattered. Another friend is held captive by the lure of alcohol. And more friends than I can count are suffering under injustices done against them.  To these, what evidence can I offer of this joy and freedom and favor that Jesus promises?
Isaiah answers this himself as the reading continues (Isaiah 61:10-11).  He understands what God has done for him, using images of clothing. Jesus pulls him from the pit, washes him clean, and covers him lavishly with robes, mantles, crowns, and jewels.  Isaiah sees what the Lord has done in his life, and knows it is heaven on Earth, a promise of a future where the power that transformed his life will transform the world.
How much greater is my calling, for unlike Isaiah, I am not just a herald of God, but His adopted son. God has not only anointed me, but the Spirit of Jesus dwells in me.  What love is this that the Lord of Creation showers a fool like me with such tenderness. And in this Advent season, I pray that I understand this love and can shout alongside Isaiah, crying out that “my God is the joy of my soul.”
Satyan Devadoss, PhD
Fletcher Jones Chair of Applied Mathematics