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Sunday, December 13, 1998

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Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 35:1-6, 10
James 5:7-10
Psalm 146
Matthew 11:2-11

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much more than merry

"The blind recover their sight, cripples walk, lepers are cured, the deaf hear, dead men are raised to life, and the poor have the good news preached to them." —Matthew 11:5

Today is "Gaudete Sunday," meaning "Rejoice Sunday." We are rejoicing because the Christ of Christmas is near. When He comes in real, new, and amazing ways this Christmas season, "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" (Is 35:1-2). The barren, deserted, and abused "will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God" (Is 35:2). This Christmas, expect the feeble, weak, and fearful to be strong, fearless, vindicated, and saved (Is 35:3-4). Then the physically or spiritually blind, deaf, lame, or dumb will be healed and transformed (Is 35:5-6). "They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee" (Is 35:10).

Many people, even Christians, doubt if these wonderful promises of the Lord will be fulfilled in our times and in this Christmas season. The truth is that these promises will be fulfilled this Christmas in ways greater than any words can express. Isaiah may have expressed the glory of Christmas better than anyone else, but even the prophet Isaiah couldn't do justice to Christ's love. "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Cor 2:9). He will "do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine" (Eph 3:20). A more than merry Christmas to you!

Prayer:  Father, I rejoice in You always (Phil 4:4).

Promise:  "Steady your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, my brothers, lest you be condemned. See! The Judge stands at the gate." —Jas 5:8-9

Praise:  "I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul" (Is 61:10).

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Robert J. Buschmiller, June 11, 1998

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, July 20, 1998