Illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of Matthew 11:2-11
Icicle lights. Rope lights. Net lights. Spotlights. Floodlights. Christmas tree lights. Outdoor and indoor Christmas decorations are beginning to illuminate, glimmer, sparkle and twinkle with bright, glowing, clear and multicolored lights.

It’s the third Sunday of Advent, also called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means “rejoice.” Three candles are lit in the Advent wreath. This Sunday’s candle is pink because it’s a sign of rejoicing that Christmas is near. The priest wears pink or rose-colored vestments. These are colors of dawn, reminding us that Jesus, the Light of the World, is about to brighten our world – just like dawn brightens the sky with light as night becomes day.

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist has so shook up people with his strong sermons that Herod, the governor of Galilee, put John into prison because John pointed out Herod’s own sins. From the prison, John sent his followers to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” It’s not really clear if John is asking this for himself or if he is giving his disciples the opportunity to witness what Jesus is doing and to have them follow Jesus because he knows his own death is imminent.

Contrary to what people expected, Jesus is not a powerful political leader with an army ready to defend the Jewish people. Instead, Jesus is a healer who brings life, hope, forgiveness and peace to the suffering, needy, lowly, lost and poor.

Jesus responds, “Go and tell John what you hear and see. The blind regain 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. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Jesus’ reply to John actually echoes what we hear today in Isaiah 35 and Psalm 146. Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior.

Jesus shows us so much love and mercy and gives us so much beauty and joy. Yet, we may overlook the wondrous signs of Jesus’ presence in our lives: the love and help of parents and family, priests, sisters and teachers; the change of seasons; the beauty of nature, the kindness and goodness of friends; and, most of all, the special gift of Jesus himself in the Eucharist.

At this time of year TV commercials and sale papers constantly pressure us to think about and to buy “Christmas presents.” But, Advent is a time to think about and to prepare for the “Christmas presence” – Jesus!

Be prayerful, good, forgiving, and loving. Make room in your heart for Jesus and pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”