First Reading: Isaiah 35. 1 – 6a, 10
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 146)
Second Reading 5. 7 – 10
Gospel: Matthew 11. 2 – 11
Those who enjoy reading poems will appreciate today’s first reading with its vivid and lush
images composed for the people of God who were exiles in Babylon subjected to a state of slavery
which seemed to be devoid of hope. Listen, once again: “Be strong, fear not! Behold, your god
will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you. Then the
eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap
like a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and
gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (1 st Reading)

These joyful words are given to us on this third Sunday of Advent known as the ‘laetare’ or
‘gaudete’ i.e. the joyful Sunday. There is joy in these words because they contain hope. John the
Baptist needed to hear words of joy and hope. Because of his righteous, honest, frank and
firebrand speech, he landed himself in trouble as King Herod imprisoned him and his days on
earth were numbered. Though he had pointed to the Messiah, Jesus, by his words ‘here is the
lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,’ he had not heard any firebrand speech of
Jesus, for Jesus was calm and cool. Being in solitary confinement, unable to see and hear Jesus,
he had his doubts whether the one whom he had pointed was really the Messiah. He wanted to
clear his doubts. Surely, he had some clandestine visitors to the prison… He took advantage of
their visit and asked them to find out from Jesus, “Are you he who is to come, or shall we look
for another?’

The answer of Jesus was of joy and hope, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind
receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are

raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no
offence at me.”

These words “apply to us too, especially, during this season of Advent. We too are people in
exile, far from our home in heaven. Our hands tend to be feeble as they try to ward off evil, our
knees weak with carrying the burdens of life. Our hearts may be frightened in the face of an
uncertain economic and social future. The prophetic word calls out to us: ‘Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God… But in reply we perhaps are compelled to ask, ‘Where is your God?’ we do
not see him, and we do not feel him. A God there must be, but who is he? With John the Baptist
we can turn to Jesus and ask, ‘Are you He who is to come or do we look for another?” (Charles
E. Miller)

But we know that Jesus gave sight to the blind; made the lame walk; cleansed lepers; made the
deaf hear; raised up the dead; preached the good news to the poor.

Today we are the blind, because we do not often see the goodness of God in one another. We are
the lame who practice our faith and religion half-heartedly. We are the crippled ones as being
burdened with our sins we are not able to walk erect and instead bent on looking inwards with a
sense of guilt and shame by failing to make the adequate use of the sacrament of reconciliation in
order to unburden ourselves by experiencing the mercy of God. We are the weak ones who do
not nourish ourselves sufficiently with word of God. We are the deaf who do not listen attentively
to the Word of God and live accordingly. We are truly lepers who are marred by our varied sins
of commission and omission. We are those poor who need to depend on God and not on the
values of the world. We are the ones to whom the Word of God is proclaimed and interpreted at
the Eucharist.

We are, therefore, called to be joyful Christians, part of the joyful Church. There is no room for
pessimism and sarcasm in our life. Our Pope Francis in the Apostoic Exhortation, Evangelii
Gaudium, The Joy of Evangelization says, “The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all

who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner
emptiness and loneliness. With Christ, joy is constantly born anew. (No. 1)

This joy can be experience through a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. People Francis says,
“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with
Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this
unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since
“no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who
take this risk; whatever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there,
waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be
deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my
covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your
redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost! Let me says
this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.
Christ, who told us to forgive one another “seventy times seven” (Mt 18: 22) has given us his
example: he has forgiven us his seventy times seven. Time and time again he bears us on his
shoulders. No one can strip us of the dignity bestowed upon us by this boundless and unfailing
love. With a tenderness which never disappoints, but is always capable of restoring our joy, he
makes it possible for us to lift us our heads and to start anew. Let us not flee from the resurrection
of Jesus,, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which
impels us onwards (No. 3).

Let us prepare ourselves to encounter Jesus by intensifying our prayer, contemplating the Word of
God and performing acts of charity towards the needy, sick, lonely, suffering an the marginalized
to add a little more joy and gladness in their lives. Let us ponder and choose the concrete ways in
which we can manifest our love for God and one another. Only then the feast of Christmas will
become meaningful to us.
God bless.