The future tense of the first reading transforms into present tense in the Gospel. With Jesus’ coming, the blind do see, the deaf do hear, here and now, Jesus’ presence is effecting healing and change as his earthly ministry begins. It is still effecting healing now as his presence continues with us in countless harder-to-see ways. And yet Advent is also our season of waiting; the second reading reminds us that we are still waiting for Christ’s healing work to accomplished in its fullness. The transformation of our world has yet to be complete.
This Sunday Gospel, Jesus instructs John’s disciples to serve as witnesses. Witnesses are people who have seen something firsthand and who share what they have seen for the benefit of those who could not be there. Their presence at the scene of what’s happening gives their testimony a certain privilege. Witnesses are important; we trust what they say. Jesus instructs these witnesses in what they are to say; most elements are familiar aspect of ancient prophecies, but he throws a twist in at the end. Jesus brings healing not only for those who are blind, lame, deaf or ill; he restores to life even those who have died. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, but he is also something completely new. The works Jesus is beginning is beyond anyone’s wildest hopes or imagination.
We don’t often see the grand miracles that Jesus enumerates here. But we, too, are called to witness to God’s work of healing and giving life. Jesus usually slips in quietly, blessing us with subtle strength and slow growth that we might fail to notice. Very often in our lives, we have to train our eyes, and our heart to see it.
Take some time during this season of preparation to think of the things that bring you the most joy—moments that make your soul sing, conversations that revive your spirit, situations that grant hope that saves us. Pope Francis reminds us in his encyclical; "Evangeli Gaudium," "that the Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus." On this Gaudete Sunday, we are reminded of the encounter and experience of the presence of Jesus in the blind, lame leper, deaf, dead and poor. Francis’s call beckons us to an understanding of the joy of salvation rooted in encounter with Christ in our brothers and sisters in need.
By Deacon Deacon Faiva Po’oi
Third Sunday of Advent Reflection