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Be glad

(Is 35.1-6a,10; Jas 5.7-10; Mt 11.2-11)

In the history of the Church this Sunday was long known as Gaudete Sunday. The word means ‘be glad’ or ‘rejoice’, coming from the first word of the verse that introduces the Mass. We are invited to rejoice because Christ is to come soon; yet the readings are pregnant with the notion of ‘patience’ for we know that Jesus’ birth cannot be hurried, for it is a pure gift not an anticipated reward.

The readings also reflect on the work of farmers. (Jas 5.7-8). From time to time we hear of their complaints about unfair burdens and taxes. Their deeper concern, however, may be their reliance on God’s providence – for they cannot control the drought or the floods that can ruin years of patient toil. Most farmers love their land and do their best to preserve and enrich it but at times they too can only wait and hope.

The gospel moves from the health of the land to the health of its inhabitants. It points out that in a unified and caring land those who are privileged will look out for the needs of the underprivileged, the blind, the crippled and diseased. This too is a patient task needing careful planning. That is why we need prophets, those who will point to the temptations of our consumer society, the adulation of fast cars and shallow celebrities – so different from Jesus who will come quietly and humbly, born out of long waiting and deep longing. (Mt 11.10-11)

Source: 3rd Sunday Advent year A1

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