A deep sense of confidence and assurance radiates from the readings on this Third Sunday of Advent. Keeping in mind the great challenges experienced by the Jews in the first reading and the Christians in the second reading, Isaiah’s and Paul’s message of joy and hope sounds out of concord with their immediate circumstances. However, worrying and fretting can only take you so far. Their words have stood the test of time. Although written in different situations at different times, their message is rooted in the same loving God who has called us and will not fail us (1 Thes 5:24) because God has clothed us in garments of salvation and wrapped us in integrity (Is 61:10).
In knowing intimately the God they bear witness to and worship, Isaiah and Paul are not only able to speak confidently about God’s promise but also urge their communities to live with joy and hope knowing that they are God’s chosen people.
The question of identity also shines through in the readings. We see it taking shape in the Gospel when John the Baptist clears all doubts about who he is. His identity is an anchor. When asked, “Who are you?” He replies with conviction. He’s the forerunner, the one sent to prepare the way for Christ’s coming. His reply moves us to anchor our own identities, in relation to Christ.
Through Baptism, we have become God’s chosen people. We too have been called, anointed, and redeemed as sons and daughters of God our Father. That is our identity as Christians. From the moment we are born, we begin the journey of who we are and who we are not, in relation to others. If the priests, Levites, and Pharisees turned to us instead and asked, “Who are you?” how might we respond?
Do your identity include the anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ and hence being a person of joy and hope?
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