Sunday 17th December

Third Sunday of Advent

Is 61:1-2, 10-11 Cant Lk 1:46-54; 1 Thess 5:16-24; Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

The theme of Spirit-given prophecy appears in all three readings today. Prophesying is not about foretelling the future; it is about speaking out God’s word today. That is what is announced by Isaiah, that is what Paul tells the Thessalonians they are to do, and that is precisely what John the Baptist does in the gospel; he speaks out God’s word to challenge those who question him. John’s gospel is full of the language of a legal trial. Jesus is challenged by his opponents and responds with his defence and the testimony of his works and of those who witness to him. Here John is a witness, one who gives evidence on behalf of the accused. And of course, ultimately – and magnificently – Jesus is vindicated by his Resurrection, and with him all those who bear witness are vindicated. In the passage from Isaiah being anointed with the spirit of the Lord enables the prophet to proclaim Good News.

Paul insists that the Thessalonians have been called by God and the spirit is to be embraced not suppressed. John announces that the Lord has come and is present in their midst. Like these, all Christians are called to be witnesses, to speak God’s word, to proclaim Good News, and all this is done in the power of the spirit. That power has been given through the anointing received, and that power must not be suppressed but be embraced.