3rd Week of Advent, Friday

In today’s Gospel Our Lord warns the incredulous Scribes and Pharisees that if John was a lamp meant to light the way, Our Lord is a sun. As Advent winds to a close John’s mission draws to a conclusion and Our Lord’s is about to begin, and his phase of salvation history is a quantum leap, because he is its culmination.

Today’s First Reading reminds us that if we want Our Lord’s arrival to be a blessing it requires something on our part. It requires that we live uprightly. In Isaiah that is described in terms of religious observance, but the situation in today’s Gospel reminds us that religious observance can be severed from charity and living an upright life. In those sad circumstances it becomes empty and pointless. Advent is a penitential time to prepare for the Messiah’s birth; it is a moment for conversion, for turning our hearts back to the Lord, remembering that he never turns in heart away from us.

The difference between empty observance and fervent devotion is love we put into our relationship with Christ. Let’s not just put Christ back into Christmas, but our love for him back into it as well.

Readings: Isaiah 56:1–3a, 6–8; Psalm 67:2–8; John 5:33–36. See also 4th Week of Lent, Thursday.