Reflection: Third Sunday of Advent

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Is.61:1-2,10-11; 64:1.3-8; Lk.1:46-50;53-54; 2nd Reading – 1Thess.5:16-24; Gospel – Jn.1:6-8,19-28]


Last week we met John the Baptist in the gospel according to St. Mark and this week we encounter him again but in a different gospel – the gospel according to St. John. Both gospels speak about John the Baptist. Both gospels speak about the prophecy of Isaiah: the voice that cries in the wilderness… This week’s gospel tells us that John was sent by God as a witness.  The Gospel writer makes it very clear that John the Baptist was not the light but was sent to speak for the light. John the Baptist appeared as a witness.

If we take a moment to ponder on this week’s gospel then perhaps one may draw some parallel with another passage in the gospels i.e. when Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do people say I am?” When Jesus asked his disciples the direct question about who they say Jesus is, it was Peter who said that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God.

In today’s gospel we have the same answers that the people gave then about Jesus. But instead of being positioned as answers, they are positioned as questions directed at John the Baptist: Are you… Elijah? … the Prophet? John clearly describes himself saying he is not the Christ! John the Baptist ‘not only declared, but declared quite openly. “I am not the Christ!”’ and later he adds: “I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord”.

So, even though our focus is directed at John the Baptist, we are still being constantly reminded of the Christ through John as a witness. But unlike last week where we heard about how John dressed or what he ate, in today’s gospel we have some information about his relationship with the Christ. We are told in fact at the beginning of today’s gospel that John the Baptist was sent by God… John the Baptist also says that although he is baptising with water, not being the Christ, nor Elijah and neither the prophet, the one who is to come is greater than him. So much so that John does not feel that he is even fit to undo his sandal strap… This action of undoing the sandal-strap was referring to washing the feet by servants when the master or the guest entered the house…

During Advent we are encouraged to continue to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Is our attention turned towards Christ who is coming? Are we ready to let God send us wherever He deems fit? Are we ready to divert all our attention to the Christ? Are we ready, even if we are unfit to undo his sandal-strap to wash his feet for him to enter our house, our heart?

Lord, John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of your Son. He said that the Son of God was already amongst his people even if they did not recognise him. Give us the light to see him, to recognise him, and to accept him in our life. Thank you Lord!


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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