Third Sunday of Advent
December 15, 2019
Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
“Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, who comes with vindication; with divine recompense God comes to save you.” Isaiah 35:4b
Isaiah tells us about a time of “vindication with divine recompense” when the environment will be restored (“the steppe will rejoice and bloom”) and the oppressed will be liberated (“sorrow and mourning will flee.”) This is even more clear in the day’s psalm where God “secures justice for the oppressed…loves the just…and protects strangers.” This will be accomplished by a God who is active in history and in the world. Accordingly, James advises patience amidst hardship as we wait for God’s justice to be fully accomplished and revealed. However, patience is not the same as inaction or passivity.
Jesus commends John the Baptist as a great prophet who prepares the way for his coming, but suggests that the least in the Kin-dom of God is greater than John. If we are part of God’s Kin-dom and we are prophets, we also must prepare the way for God’s final and ultimate justice by working for it and revealing it now. When we see economic and racial injustice, militarism, and environmental destruction our faith compels us to resist. We cannot hide behind our own seeming powerlessness or fear of consequences. John lived in the wilderness, seemingly the least powerful person, and ended up imprisoned and beheaded. If you do not know what to do, pray for insight, study what has been done before and ask others for ideas, and then act in whatever way your gifts and circumstances allow.
What can you do given your own gifts and circumstances to resist injustice? If you don’t know, ask a friend.
Reflection by Brian Ashmankas