Third Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 35:1-6a,10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11

What blessings are given to those who draw near to God!

What blessings are given to those who draw near to God – ‘Your God… will come and save you’ (Isaiah 35:4). The Good News of Christ comes to us as a call to faith – ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). We have been saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot remain the same. We are called to live a new life. We must travel on the Lord’s ‘highway’ – ‘the Way of Holiness’ (Isaiah 35:8). This is ‘the Way’ which leads to ‘everlasting joy’ (Isaiah 35:10). This ‘Way’ is so different from the world’s way. The world has no time for those who seek to live a holy life. This is what Jesus says about the world’s way of life: ‘the gate is wide and the way is wide that leads to destruction’ (Matthew 7:13). Whatever the world may say, we must never forget this: ‘Without holiness, no-one will see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14).

Let us look forward to the great Day of our salvation, always praying that sinners will be saved.

We look forward to ‘the Lord’s Coming’ as the great Day of our salvation – “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming the Lord’s coming is near” (James 5:7-8).  We must not, however, forget God’s words of warning: ‘The Judge is standing at the door!’ (James 5:9). God speaks to us concerning His great salvation – and He also warns us: Be careful how you live. The warning and the promise belong together. Those who are facing judgment can be brought to the Saviour. May God help us to speak His Word – the warning as well as the promise – , always praying that sinners will be saved (James 5:16,19-20).

May God help us to lead people of this generation to Christ, the Friend of sinners.

Much is said about John the Baptist in Matthew 11, yet the whole purpose is to draw attention to Jesus the Saviour. Jesus is superior to John. He is the One to whom John pointed. There are two responses to Jesus. We can take offence at Him: ‘Blessed is he who takes no offence at Me’ (Matthew 11:6). We can hear what He says, receiving Him with faith: ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’ (Matthew 11:15). In His time, Jesus asked the question, ‘To whom shall I compare this generation?’, giving the answer, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’ (Matthew 11:16-17). The promise of the Gospel is preached, yet many will not rejoice. The warning of the Gospel is preached, yet many will not repent. This is the story of our generation. May God help us to lead people of this generation to Christ, the ‘Friend of sinners’ (Matthew 11:19).

The Bible readings are taken from the Catholic Lectionary – Year A.

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