On Dec. 11, the third Sunday of Advent, we celebrate "Gaudete" Sunday. The entrance antiphon exhorts us to: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near." The readings blend twin calls to have hope and patience.
The first reading from Isaiah celebrates the marvelous future transformation of the parched land and the desert into a land that "will bloom with abundant flowers and rejoice with joyful song." "They will see the glory of the Lord and the splendor of our God."
The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent validate the hunger our hearts experience for a lasting peace and harmony that eludes us now. As St. Augustine said, "Our hearts are restless, until they rest in you, O Lord." God placed in our hearts a profound hunger for unity, harmony, happiness and fulfillment, and that hunger nurtures our hope for what God promises in the depths of our spirit.
The responsorial psalm captures and simplifies the theme of the readings for the first week of Advent. We're called to walk in the "light of the Lord."
Isaiah states: "In the days to come, the mountains of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills." This doesn't mean Mount Zion is physically the highest mountain, rather God chose this mountain as His special dwelling place.
On Nov. 20, we celebrate the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The most powerful image in the universe isn't a national flag or a coin or a monument. The most powerful image in the universe is the crucifix of Jesus Christ, the image of power over the entire created universe.
All three readings for this Sunday give a glimpse of what that power really is. In the first reading, it's the image of King David being anointed to be king over Israel. Up until now he was king of Judah, but now his reign extends to all of God's holy people in the chosen land.
The first and third readings for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time tell about the incredible future that awaits beyond our troubled times.
Malachi is a prophet, not a Dale Carnegie. He tells how it is, not how we would like to perceive it. His imagery is frank, direct and even brutal. "Lo the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch."
The theme of the three readings for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time are pieced together with this theme from the responsorial psalm: "But I in justice shall behold your face; on waking I shall be content in your presence." These readings pierce our ordinary lives on earth with the brilliant hope of resurrected life.