Third Sunday of Advent 2016

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Gospel Reflection for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Year A – December 11th 2016

Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available.


John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Jesus answered, ‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me’.

As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says: Look, I am going to send my messenger before you; he will prepare your way before you.

‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’

Matthew 11:2-11


They were wondering about signs – the people who were expecting the Messiah, ‘the one to come’. John, in prison, was going through some doubts, and sent others to find out.  Jesus was never one for magic signs – all the signs of his coming among us would be for our good and for the good of the ones who needed him.

So John would know when he heard of the healings of Jesus that he was the One.  The same for us today.


The signs of Jesus in the world are the signs of love, generosity, healing, peace, reconciliation, and all that goes to make for a better world, in ways large and small.

3adventJesus also knows that we are tempted to lose faith; we are blessed if we do not lose faith in him or in the church, even when we are sorely tempted. Faith is at its best when there is no other reason for belief but faith. Faith that our loved ones are with God, that he will see us through bereavement and troubles, that he exists.

The joy of Jesus, as in the first reading (Isaiah 35:1-6. 10), is what he offered in his healing; it is what is offered to us as we prepare for the Christmas season of joy. ‘Christian joy, like hope, is founded on God’s fidelity, on the certainty that he always keeps his promises.  Our faith brings a joy that lasts. May we find this and share it at this time of year!’ Pope Francis (December 2013):

Lord, be with us this time of year, case of our joy and hope. Mary, mother of all, pray for us.

Donal Neary SJ

Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger

gospel-reflections-year-aReflections for Year A, first published in other years in Logos Missalette, have now been published in book form:

Gospel Reflections for Sundays of Year A: Matthew, Messenger Publications 2016, €9.99

Order online at, or in Veritas and other booksellers.

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