Third Sunday of Advent (B)
There stands among you, unknown to you, the one who is coming after me
The Word This Week
So who is coming? This Sundays readings help to answer that question. John the Baptist is asked about the coming of the Messiah - is it him? He affirms his role as a witness to speak for the light, by pointing to the one who stands among the crowd unknown to them who is coming after him. This idea is present in the First Reading, where Isaiah proclaims what the anointed one (Messiah in Hebrew) will do, and the joy that this will bring. It is interesting that the Psalm appointed for this Sunday is the Magnificat - Marys song of praise at the announcement that the Messiah would be born of her - in which she sings of the works of the coming Messiah. Paul then reminds us that we are still waiting patiently: God has called you, and he will not fail you. This is why, on this Gaudete Sunday, we as Gods people rejoice in his care, made visible in his promises, fulfilled in Jesus.
Notes for Readers
This famous passage is the one Jesus applies to himself in the synagogue at
Paul is being brief and to the point today. So you can take your time, and announce each of his points clearly. First we have things to do - a list; it is good to pause slightly after each item, to allow people to slot it into their understanding. Then the next sentence is a prayer for the people (May the God of peace...) Emphasise the words perfect and holy, then pause. Then emphasise safe and blameless, but leading on to the central phrase for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then a slightly longer pause, before the wonderful final sentence: punch out the final words with great confidence: he will not fail you. Since this is such a short reading, read it with particular care and emphasis, always remembering that it is a list of ideas and concepts, and so will demand spaces throughout for the congregation to assimilate what is being said to them.