Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Third Sunday of Advent

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John 1:6-8; 19-28

"A man came, sent by God"

Today’s liturgy reminds us that we are over half way through Advent. It calls upon us to rejoice in the midst of our Advent season. The readings bring in a burst of joy. We are to "exult for joy in the Lord", as did the people of Israel as they awaited his salvation. And with the Thessalonians we are urged to "be happy at all times", being reminded that “God has called you and he will not fail you”.

Yet, for many this invitation to be happy, and the assurance that the Lord is at hand to help, can ring very hollow. To those deep in darkness, suffering from illness, bereavement, poverty, separation, anxiety, loneliness and so on, the celebrations of this season can highlight their pain. If Advent is to be a time of renewed faith and courage for all of us, it must point to something much deeper than simply the fun of festivities and gift-giving which usually surround our Christmas celebrations. Otherwise, to some in our midst, our very phrases of hope, and of comfort and joy, will be very cold comfort indeed.

A man was sent by God to witness to Christ. He was sent by God “as a witness to speak for the light”. He comes into the darkness of this world and bids us to prepare a way for Christ's coming into our lives. That means not merely nodding to the words of the Gospel, but giving expression to them in our lives. We are called to carry on the healing ministry of Christ - 'to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken'. If the comforting love and concern of Christ is to touch the lives of those who most need it, it may only be through our own loving, sensitive, consoling and strengthening presence to them.