Advent and Handel’s Messiah

Third Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10

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. The glory of Lebanon will be given to them, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

James 5:7-10

Be patient, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Matthew 11:2-11

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” As they were going off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine clothing? Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces. Then why did you go out? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you. Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

“Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you” (Is 35:4, 1st reading).

“Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand” (Jas 5:8, 2nd reading).

“Go and tell…what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them” (Mt. 11:4-5, gospel reading).

Listening to this Sunday’s Mass readings is like listening to Handel’s Messiah: Ev’ry Valley Shall Be Exalted…O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion…Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter Of Zion…Then Shall The Eyes Of The Blind Be Open’d…Hallelujah…Amen!

The readings and the oratorical lyrics bring hope and anticipation, comfort your heart with healing and affirmation, stir your mind with joy and exultation.

Upon a young parishioner’s recommendation, who was a member of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, my wife and I attended a Toronto Symphony Orchestra/Toronto Mendelssohn Choir concert on Handel’s Messiah during the Christmas season several years ago. The unbelievable experience began as soon as we stepped into the concourse of the Roy Thomson Hall. From the pedestrians milling around in the downtown streets to a sold-out crowd of two thousand plus concert-goers, from a secular society that was quick to rebuke the slightest hint of religiosity to a church-like congregation of people who were unabashedly determined to share their common adoration for Christ, from an increasingly narcissistic world that valued only personal obsessions to a community of art and music that came to admire the out-of-the-world talents of one of the most polished and brilliant musical composers and oratorios writers – the difference was day and night, and the contrast stark.

The sterling performance of Hallelujah brought the whole house of 2000 plus people to their feet, who, following the long-standing royal protocol, stood and rejoiced in great jubilation. The powerful experience prompted us to return to attend the concert year after year for 5 years in a row. On this third Sunday of Advent, my heart is once again stirring with joy and passion, itching to experience once again the hope, the joy, the agony, and the exultation of Handel’s Messiah.

Posted: December 11, 2016

Edmond Lo

 
As a Catholic speaker, writer and RCIA Catechist, Edmond is very active in promoting and defending the Catholic faith. He has a MBA, a CPA-CMA, and a MTS (Master of Theological Studies) from U.T., St. Augustine's Seminary. Having worked many years as the CFO of a non-profit organization, he retired at 55 to follow his special vocation of evangelization. The activities he conducts include the CMCC Bible Study Program, the Catechism Revisited Program, the FLL Spiritual Formation Program, Living in the Holy Tradition, RCIA, family groups and retreats, etc. Edmond is a member of the FLL Core Team. He writes Sunday Mass reflections regularly for the weekly FLL NewSpiration. His personal blog: http://elodocuments.blogspot.com/


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