3rd Sunday Of Advent Year A
Theme of the week: Let us open our hearts to Christ and experience true fulfillment.
There is an old saying that goes, “Good things come to those who wait.” What is the deepest yearning of your heart? What is that yearning that you yet to achieve; and if you achieve it, you feel you will be completely satisfied? In the previous week, we reflected on human conflict – perhaps for you, it is peace among nations and people? For some, it may be a more secular pursuit, like fame, money or power perhaps?
The context of the First Reading is set in a time when the Jewish people were held in exile in Babylon. Enslaved, the people yearned for freedom, that they may one day return to their homeland. Addressed to the Jews in exile in Babylon, the First Reading encourages the readers not to lose hope, for their deliverance is close at hand. The Reading paints a poetic vision of a parched land receiving rain. Flowers will bloom out of wasteland; and the blind, deaf and lame will all be healed.
Staying on the analogy of rain and plants, the Second Reading describes the expectancy of a famer waiting for his crop to yield. “The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains” (verse 7). Let us reflect once again: What is the deepest yearning of your heart? The problem with earthly yearning is that they can disappoint. The yearning may not materialise; or even if realised, the euphoria is short lived. Take the examples of earthly peace, fame, money, power or a rich harvest of crops, the happiness is short lived. In the end, we feel unfulfilled and our pursuit continues.
What is our true yearning then – something that will completely satisfy our hearts? St Augustine once said, “Our heart is restless until it finds its rest in you, Lord.” It is the complete happiness and fulfillment of accepting Christ into our hearts that completely satisfy our hearts. We have a heavenly void in our hearts that can only be filled by an heavenly host. This is the truth that cannot be verbally conveyed. It needs to be experienced. In the Gospel, Jesus described John the Baptist as the greatest of all those born of women (verse 11). Yet in spite of being such a great man, John sent his disciples to confirm with Jesus his identity. Is Jesus indeed “the one who is to come” (verse 3), or perhaps the people should “wait for another” (verse 3). Even John needs to experience Christ. Thus, instead of simply answering yes, Jesus replied by referring to the fulfilment of the prophecy in this week’s First Reading: the blind sees, the deaf hears and the lame walks (verse 5). The Lord is asking us to see, hear and walk with Him – the Messiah needs to be experienced.
After Jesus was taken into heaven, the angel promised his return. For the Christians in the First Century in the midst of persecution, they, like the exiled Jews in the First Reading, hoped earnestly for deliverance, for Christ to return and put an end to their persecution. The Second Reading urges these Christians to be patient (verse 7-8). As we encounter difficulties in our own lives, the passage speaks to us in the same way. Just like the farmer waits patiently for his crop to spring (verse 7), so too must we wait patiently for Christ to deliver us true happiness.
As we await the birth of the Chirst-Child at Christmas, let us open our hearts to experience Christ, to the experience of true and lasting happiness. Emmanuel.