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Focus on presence not presents

Based on Is 35:1-6a, 10; Jas 5: 7-10; Mt 11:2-11

On this third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, there is joyful expectation in the readings.

Gaudete means, “Rejoice.” Three candles are lit in the Advent wreath, including the pink candle, a sign of rejoicing that Christmas is near.

The priest wears pink or rose-colored vestments. These colors of dawn remind us 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 the Gospel, John the Baptist has so excited people with his strong sermons that Herod, the governor of Galilee, put John in prison because he pointed out Herod’s 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 see what Jesus is doing and to have them follow Jesus because he knows his own death is near.

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.”

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise of a Savior who brings life, hope, healing, forgiveness and peace to the suffering, needy, lowly, lost and poor.

Jesus shows us much love and mercy and gives us much joy and beauty. Yet, we may overlook the wondrous signs of Jesus’ presence in our lives; the love and help of parents and family, clergy, sisters, and teachers; the birth of babies; the beauty of nature; the kindness of friends; and, most of all, the special gift of Jesus in the Eucharist.

TV commercials and sale papers continually pressure us to buy “Christmas presents.” But Advent is a time to prepare for the true “Christmas presence” – Jesus!