Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Third Sunday of AdventA

Sunday of the III AdventA (Gaudete Sunday)

 

Readings: Isa 35:1-6a, 10; Jac 5:7-10; Mt 11:2-11.

1/ Reading I: RSV Isaiah 35:1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. 3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you." 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. 10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

2/ Reading II: RSV James 5:7 Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 9 Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

3/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 11:2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" 4 And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is he who takes no offense at me." 7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses. 9 Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written, `Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.' 11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.



I. THEME: When the Messiah comes, he shall bring joy and peace for those who wait for him. 

            Hoping for a better future is the motivation for people to keep going in the midst of many difficulities and obstacles in life; for examples, parents can overcome tiredness to earn money for their children’s education; students can overcome many difficulties and boring to fulfill sixteen years of school for the bachelor’s degree. Hoping in God’s promise is one of the three theological virtues; it helps people to patiently overcome all sufferings in their life to attain the glory, joy and peace which God promises to give to those who are faithful to Him.

            The readings of the Gaudete Sunday concentrate on God’s promise to give the Messiah and the joy which people shall have when he is in their soul. In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah reminded people this promise and all of its glory even though the Israelites were living a horrible life in their exile. In the second reading, St. James advised his faithful that they must practice virtues when they are waiting for Christ’s second coming, especially to persevere in difficulties and to live in harmony with others. In the Gospel, John the Baptist sacrificed his entire life to prepare for Christ’s first coming and now be confined in prison; therefore he wanted to know if Jesus is the true Messiah. Christ praised John Baptist because he has a firm faith, a simple life and a witnessing life for him. However, Christ emphasized that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John Baptist.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: “They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

           

1.1/ God can do all things: The prophet Isaiah fortold what shall happen to the Israelites in the future, “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.” The background of this prophecy is two Israelites’ exiles in Assyria (721 B.C.) and in Babylon (587 B.C.). They lost everything: their houses, nations and the Jerusalem temple; and were living as slaves in exiles.

            (1) How the wilderness and the dry land shall be blossomed? This reminds the Israelites that God can do everything; nothing is impossible to Him. He can let them back to their country, re-establish it and rebuild the Jerusalem temple. Their sorrow shall turn to joy.

            (2) Lebanon, Mt. Carmel and Sharon plain of the Ancient Near East represent for majesty and prosperity. The prophecy wants to say that when the Messiah comes, he shall make Israel to have such majesty and prosperity.

1.2/ God is the source of strength, joy and hope for people: Lived in wars and exiles, the Israelites were constantly in fear, anxiety and desperation when they think about their future. Out of love for them, God constantly sent His prophets to console, to strengthen and to give them hope, the prophets’ duties are: “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.”

The Isaiah’s prophecy has two degrees of fulfillment.

            (1) God shall liberate the Israelites from exiles: This happened in 538 B.C., when Cyrus, the Persian king, issued a degree to set free the Israelites so they can go back to their country. He and the Persian later kings even helped them with the financial mean so that they can rebuild the temple and re-establish their nation.

            (2) God shall send His Messiah to liberate people from all kinds of sufferings: This happened when Christ came the first time.

            - He comes to bring salvation for people: “Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.” By Christ’s death on the cross, he saves people from death and brings salvation for all. He died in the place of people.

            - He comes to heal all kinds of sickness: Besides the salvation, Christ healed many sickness as the prophet announced, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy.”

            - He comes to take away people’s sins: “The ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” Christ takes away people’s sin and established the sacrament of Reconciliation to continue to forgive sins for people. Sins bear down people and make them as slaves; when sins are taken away, people are free and obltain true joy and gladness.

2/ Reading II: “You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

2.1/ We must be patient to wait before seeing the result: Waiting time is people’s enemy because it causes them to lose their patience; but in God’s providence, people must depend on time. St. James gave an agricultural example to advise his faithful that they must be patiently waited for Christ’s second coming. He wrote, “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

2.2/ We must practice all virtues while waiting: All farmers, while waiting for the harvest, they must fertilize land, prune branches, kill insects, water plants so they could give good and abundant results. Similarly for people, they must not only be patient to wait for Christ’s second coming, but also be perserved in prayer and practice virtues. St. James listed only two necessary virtues in today passage:

            (1) The faithful must live in harmony with others: People have a tendency to take themselves as a standard to judge others; many times they are near-sighted and unjust. The best way to live in harmony with others is to stop judging them when one has no responsibility to judge so that we shall not be judged by God, because what measure we used to judge others, He shall use the same measure to judge us. St. James advised his faithful, “Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors.”

            (2) The faithful must imitate the prophets’ lifestyle: St. James also gave us an exemplar to follow, “As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.” The first character of a prophet is to tell the truth as he learns from God. The prophets don’t fear the results from speaking the truth; they are always ready to accept people’s hatred and persecution. Moreover, they must be patient with their audiences because people aren’t easy to change. They must patiently wait for people to change and help them to reconcile with God.

 

3/ Gospel: “Yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

           

3.1/ John Baptist’s question for Jesus: The passage reported, “When John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?"”

            Some people pose a question, “Why did John ask Jesus this question?” Is it because he is unsure about Jesus’ origin or because he wants his disciples to hear the answer from Jesus himself? In the Fourth Gospel, the former can’t happen because he pointed to Christ and introduced him to his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29). John Baptist might be unsure about Jesus’ identity in Matthew’s Gospel or want his disciples’ faith to be confirmed by Jesus’ direct answer.

            To answer John Baptist’s question, Jesus didn’t use words to answer, but invited them to look at his deeds; they are the surest ways to confirm their faith. He said, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me.” These things were fortold by the prophet Isaiah about seven hundreds years before Christ’s appearance. When a person witnesses these things are happened, they must know the Messiah has come.

3.2/ Christ praised John Baptist specially: When John Baptist’s disciples went away; Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John:

            (1) John Baptist’s firm faith: “What did you go out into the wilderness to behold: A reed shaken by the wind?” A reed shaken by the wind is the symbol of those who have a shaken faith—whoever says anything, they shall follow it. John Baptist isn’t this kind of person; but the one who has a firm faith in God.

            (2) His simple life: "Why then did you go out? To see a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses.” John didn’t wear expensive garments as those who are in royal palaces. In opposition, “John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey” (Mt 3:4). He showed us that one can live a simple life, not depending so much on material things. By living this lifestyle, John had lots of time to prepare people to receive the Messiah.

            (3) His mission: “Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” A prophet is the one who speaks on behalf of God. John’s mission as a prophet was shown when he spoke the truth without fearing of results. It is because of speaking the truth, he was confined in prison and beheaded by Salome’s request, Herodia’s daughter.

            (4) John is the most important prophet: “This is he of whom it is written, `Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee.'” John prepared for the Messiah by preparing people’s life to welcome him. He is the most important prophet because he saw and pointed out Christ as the Messiah for people. All other prophets only revealed some details related to the Messiah.

            (5) However, the least in heaven is more important than John: Lastly, Jesus concluded, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

            When saying these words, Jesus had no intention of insulting John because he also said the same thing to those who listen and do God’s will, ““Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mk 3:33-35). John Baptist perfectly fulfilled his given mission; so he certainly inherits the kingdom oh heaven.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - Hoping in God’s promise must be the motivation for us to overcome all trials and sufferings of life and to be faithful to Him forever.

            - In order to receive God’s reward, we must be patient to wait for, to pray always, and to sanctify our life by practicing all virtues.

            - John Baptist must be the exemplar for us to imitate. We need to learn from him to have a firm faith, to live a simple life and to be a faithful witness for Christ. 

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