Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Jaime L. WatersNovember 19, 2020
Photo by Aaron Cloward on Unsplash

Today’s Gospel from John shares several similarities to the Gospel from Mark last Sunday. Both highlight John the Baptist as the herald for the Messiah. Advent is a great time to reflect on people who, like John, shed light on what is important and what enables us to draw nearer to God.

Do not despise prophetic utterances. (1 Thes 5:20)

Liturgical day
Is 61:1-11; Lk 1; 1 Thes 5:16-24; Jn 1:6-28

How do you live out your Christian faith?

What can you do to promote the common good?

Who or what brings you joy?


In the evangelist John’s prologue, John the Baptist is said to be sent from God as a witness to testify so that “all might believe through him.” Through his proclamations and actions, John the Baptist helps people to understand Jesus’ significance as the Messiah. Like Mark last week, John insists that John the Baptist is not the Messiah himself; rather, he prepares the way for him. This insistence suggests that there was uncertainty and debate in antiquity over how John should be regarded. During Advent, we frequently hear about John the Baptist and his role as herald on behalf of Christ. We should be inspired to model ourselves after him, considering ways in which we too can proclaim our Christian witness.

In addition, the third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, and the first and second readings aptly emphasize the importance of joy at this point in the season. In the first reading from Isaiah, we hear a prophecy that delivers good news to people who are recovering after the Babylonian exile. The speaker, perhaps a member of the post-exilic community or a prophet, rejoices in God’s saving power and quest for justice. God is depicted as savior, comforter and advocate, delivering good news to the most vulnerable and marginalized: the poor, brokenhearted, captives and prisoners. The reading reminds us to rejoice in knowing that God’s salvific power is active in the world and in our lives. Even and perhaps especially when moments are challenging, today we are reminded to “rejoice heartily in the Lord” who makes “justice and praise spring up.”

The second reading from 1 Thessalonians reminds early Christians to rejoice, pray and give thanks, actions that should be emulated today. Paul also emphasizes prophetic voices as essential to communities, for they often condemn injustice in society. Paul reminds the Thessalonians to test prophetic words, retaining good elements and refraining from evil. Obviously, the point is not solely to pick and choose what is most agreeable. Instead, Paul affirms the importance of critical thinking and discernment to determine what actions promote the common good.

As we journey through Advent, we should carefully consider today’s readings and how they prepare us to encounter Christ on Christmas and always. At this halfway point in Advent, we are called to be Christian witnesses like John the Baptist, heed prophetic voices and rejoice in God’s saving power and love.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

May 22, 2022, the Sixth Sunday of Easter: In order to receive the Easter peace Jesus gives, we must cooperate with the work of the Spirit.
Jaime L. WatersMay 13, 2022
May 15, 2022, the Fifth Sunday of Easter: Jesus adds to the command to love one another “as I have loved you,” calling us to service.
Jaime L. WatersMay 06, 2022
May 8, 2022, the Fourth Sunday of Easter: The metaphor of Jesus as shepherd and his followers as sheep also offers a framework for their relationship.
Jaime L. WatersMay 02, 2022
May 1, 2022, the Third Sunday of Easter: By encountering the risen Jesus, the disciples strengthen their relationship with him and prepare for their own missionary work in light of the resurrection.
Jaime L. WatersApril 22, 2022