The Future Glory of Zion
1 The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them, nd the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose;
2 It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert.
7 The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there,
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
The Happiness of Those Whose Help Is the Lord
5 Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever,
7 Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners.
8 The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; But the way of the wicked He makes crooked.
10 The Lord shall reign forever—Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!
The Song of Mary
46 And Mary said: “My soul declares the greatness of the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”
Be Patient and Persevering
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience.
John the Baptist Sends Messengers to Jesus
2 And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples
3 and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
4 Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:
5 The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
7 As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
8 But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’
11 “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
This homily is prepared by Reverend Monsignor Russell G. Terra, Pastor Emeritus of Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Redding, CA.
3rd Sunday of Advent
December 15, 2019
“Facing the Future”
My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord –
Everywhere on our planet there seems to be problems. There seems to be no nation, state, or locale that is not experiencing problems on some level. Armed conflict; acts of terrorism; political unrest; drought, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, warmed oceans; oppressed, disenfranchised, and persecuted people – and millions of displaced refugees – all these attest to the sad state of our world today!
Unfortunately, for all of this, there seems to be no answer. Any change seems to be beyond what our leaders are willing to undertake. Furthermore, if we add to this, homelessness, growing income disparity, a housing shortage – as well as the struggles that every person and family face – then we might begin to wonder how we can face what the future will bring!
700 years before the time of Jesus, Isaiah spoke to a nation that had been divided
politically and had split into two separate kingdoms: Israel on the north – and Judah on the south. Their leadership had become corrupt – and most of the people had become unfaithful to God as well. Because Israel had chosen to fight Assyria, they were conquered and led into exile. Judah, for its part, sought an alliance with Assyria, but then had to live under its oppressive rule.
Nevertheless, Isaiah spoke words of hope. Isaiah wished to give the faithful few, a remnant really, a reason to hope and to remain faithful in trust. Consequently, he spoke in beautiful words of a future that seemed impossible – The desert would be changed into a garden land – The plains, forested with the cedars of Lebanon and the pines of Carmel and Sharon.
Moreover, people would be delivered from every ailment and affliction – from blindness, deafness, speechlessness, lameness, and any other disability – And the song of joy would be in every heart!
Of course, Isaiah spoke of a future beyond when they lived – a future which began with the birth of God’s Son among us.
The Gospel of Matthew reveals that Jesus began that future which continues to unfold only gradually. Jesus came to inaugurate the Kingdom of God, the Reign of God, in our world. Certainly, it can begin for us now, at least in our hearts.
However, Matthew’s Gospel also tells us that there was doubt and uncertainty about Jesus and his role. Did the Baptist really doubt – or was he trying to help his own disciples move beyond their hopes for a political Messiah to a liberator of our souls and spirits? For, clearly, Jesus was fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy about a promised future that would come to pass.
And, yet, Jesus only began God’s Reign for us to experience. He, himself, would have to suffer and die before his human nature could enter into the fullness of eternal life with God.
We are, indeed, blessed beyond belief to live in the time of God’s Reign as brought to us by Jesus. We are blessed, because as Jesus said, we are born into the Kingdom of God, which is already there in the hearts and souls of true disciples! However, we must remain faithful. The Reign of God co-exists with all the sin, evil, and hardship in our world today. This is the reason St. James urges us to be patient. We must be patient and our hearts must remain steadfast despite a bankrupt culture and a broken world.
God continues to come to us in every moment. Even the hardships we experience on so many levels are opportunities to grow in God’s life of love. But we must face every suffering as Jesus did, as part of the cross we must carry.
Brothers and Sisters, Christmas is only 10 days away. Our pagan culture continues to take Christ out of Christmas in every way that it can. Therefore, it’s no wonder that people feel let down afterwards – when they face the world on the next day!
So, let us pray – that we never forget that Jesus is God’s Son born to us – That Jesus inaugurated the Reign of God in our hearts and lives – and that we can gain all that he has promised if we remain patient and faithful, despite living in our broken world!
December 15, 2019 Msgr. Russell G. Terra