The Reason We Rejoice – 3rd Sunday of Advent
Isaiah was a Hebrew Prophet who lived about 700 years before the coming of Christ. His writing style revealed a well-educated man, distinguished and privileged. Jewish tradition says he was of royal descent even a cousin to King Uzziah. His mastery of language, rich vocabulary and poetic skills earned him the title the “Shakespeare of the Bible.” Through his encouragement, God stirs up in his exiled people in Babylon the hope of their return to Israel. He explains to them that it was through their unfaithfulness to Him that they had lost their liberty, had been taken captives in Babylon and had lived there in servitude for some sixty years. God now assures them of their return to their homeland, rebuild the Temple and serve their God once more as His Chosen People. So he tells them to rejoice because God will accomplish what he promised.
In today’s gospel, Matthew describes how Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s vision of the coming of the Promised One. Though Jesus has a poor and humble origin, he assures John who is now in prison, what Isaiah had prophesied that “the blind regained their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” Jesus will slowly reveal himself as the “Emmanuel and the Anointed One of God” who will be the light and salvation for everyone. Through his teachings, he will show himself as “Wonderful Counselor.” As Messiah, he will be shown as “the Servant of Yahweh” who will give his life for the atonement of the sins of humanity.
Just as Prophet Isaiah exhorted the hopeless Israel to rejoice, this favorable message is also for us. The directive continues to be timely and relevant for us today as we face a depressed and discouraged world. Many do not listen to empty promises anymore. People have become tired of futile assurances. Joy is now absent and they are calling out for help. This existential crisis is real and people are running out of hope and patience. We need to re-echo the thousand-old message: “Be strong. Fear not! Here is your God; He comes to save you!” It is God who will bring joy and hope.
Prayer:Lord, let me understand that your presence is the real source of gladness and joy in my life. Amen.
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