Weekly Missionary Reflection
Sunday, 11 December 2022
Third Sunday of Advent
Isa. 35:1-6a,10; Ps. 146:7,8-9a,9bc-10; Jam. 5:7-10; Matt. 11:2-11
Dear beloved missionaries,
We are on the third Sunday of Advent, which is called Gaudete Sunday or Sunday of Joy. The opening antiphon in the mass of the third Sunday Advent proclaims, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near” (Phils. 4:4-5). We are invited to be joyful as the presence (birth) of Jesus is near. The Lord’s word in today’s mass is full of joyful invitations.
The first reading quoted from the book of Isaiah describes the joy as “The wilderness and the parched land will exult; the Arabah will rejoice and bloom. Like the crocus, it shall bloom abundantly and rejoice with joyful song! […] Say to the fearful of heart: Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense, he comes to save you […] They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning flee away.” The people that Isaiah’s message sent to in his book were in anxiety and verging despair due to uncertain life after the exile to Zion. Therefore, the people were strengthened and encouraged by the message of the coming God’s justice and God’s glory would shine unto the nations. On any kind level we can also live in anxiety, worry, no direction, weakness, and even lose hope due to the reality we are facing: The covid-19 pandemic has caused the loss of our beloved ones and jobs, a sudden natural disaster has threatened our lives and other unfavorable realities of life coming to us. In such a miserable situation, let us give ourselves to be greeted by the Lord, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God.”
Allowing ourselves to be greeted by the Lord means nurturing our patience and firm heart. The second reading from the letter of Apostle James invites us to be patient and firm in the heart in waiting for the coming of the Lord, “Be patient, brothers, until the coming of the Lord […] You must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand.” Patience is one of the virtues of the Christian faith. We are patient for we believe that the Lord is near. Being patient is not just an attitude of self-discipline, but we are actively surrendering to the Lord as the only one who has the right to reign over our lives.
Patience and a firm heart bring joy. Joy is not just a feeling of pleasure that easily comes and goes, that is easily influenced by mortal things. Instead, joy is a firm and peaceful inner state for the Spirit of God dwells in us.
Dear beloved missionaries,
Such joy is described in John the Baptist who is presented in the Gospel of the third Sunday of Advent. John the Baptist is a great person. His greatness is not from his power or wealth, but from his life and role in preparing the path for the coming of the Lord. His greatness is not from his arrogance, but from his humility. He rejoiced in being small so the Lord is glorified more, “He must increase, I must decrease” (John 3:30). John is a great figure not because of his own achievement, but because he prepared the path for the Lord’s love. He’s willing to step back so Jesus can increase and be followed by His disciples. For Jesus was the expected one, John convinced himself and his followers by asking Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”
It’s right that Jesus commended John, “Amen, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist.” He is truly great for he was born of God’s mercy. He worked for the glory of God. He died in his faith in the truth.
By following the spirit and value that John the Baptist has fought for, may we deserve to welcome the birth of the Lord in the coming Christmas celebration. Whenever we work for the glory of the Lord, we may also have joy, the peaceful feeling because we feel the presence of the Lord in our lives. (NW)
(RD. M Nur Widipranoto- National Director of Pontifical Mission Society)
DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER
Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy, and sorrow in unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit animating Jesus, also be my guidance and strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.
Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the Church, in particular, I present my prayer for our Pope and apostle prayer of Indonesian Church of this month:
For the purpose of Universal Churches: Volunteers of the Non-Governmental Organization
We pray that the non-governmental organizations committed to human development may find individuals who are dedicated to social welfare and relentlessly endeavor to build international cooperation.
For the purpose of Indonesian Churches: Cultivating the moderate moderate
We pray that the Church could build and foster the attitude of being moderate and tolerant to her people, while keep being alert to the threat of fundamentalism and radicalism from both outside and inside of the Church.