Third Sunday of Advent
Over Thanksgiving Break, I found myself sitting with today’s readings for quite some time as I contemplated writing this reflection. Today’s Gospel stuck with me as I spent some (long overdue) time with my nieces, Verity (age 5) and Pascha (age 2). Verity and Pascha are quick to remind me that we can always find God in all things. For these little ladies, everything they know in life is “beeeeeautiful” and I envy that ability to see beauty so easily.
Verity is a teacher; she will take you through her favorite book, page by page and show you everything that is beautiful about it. Pascha is a quiet observer; I watched her get lost in wonder at my sister’s fish tank, as she would constantly pull anyone over to watch the beautiful fish with her. For me, the older I get, the more I am challenged to seek out God’s beauty all around us. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asked the crowd gathered around him what they expected to see when they went out to witness a prophet, “A reed swayed by the wind?...Someone dressed in fine clothing?”. This stuck with me as a reminder that we all have preconceived ideas about who God is and how He shows himself to us (or sometimes doesn’t) in our lives. I am grateful that I have Verity and Pascha to remind me that you can find God’s beauty in everything and more importantly, you can share that beauty with everyone around you.
Throughout today’s readings, the greater themes of strength, patience and love prevail. In the first reading, we are reminded of the splendor that the Lord will bring to earth, “The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers, and rejoice with joyful song.” And, in the same reading, we are challenged to be supporters for weak and fearful, “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.”
In short? There will be undeniable beauty and we should share that with everyone around us. Equally important to me, in the second reading, we are reminded that supporting others in their journey to seek out God’s beauty should never be done with judgment, “Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged.” Sharing God’s beauty with others isn’t meant to be a point of contention; it should be a dialogue of celebration. Whether it is a favorite book or a tropical fish tank, our short time on this earth is a gift from God to gaze in awe at all of His beauty.