今日的三篇讀經的意義，都表明天主教教義重視先知神恩。若翰洗者是舊約時代最後的偉大先知，他喚召眾人悔改，並指出通往默西亞 – 耶穌 – 的路。伯多祿宣稱：說預言的神恩，是天主聖神在五旬節那天傾注在門徒身上的(宗 2:14–21)。保祿也認為先知是聖神的恩賜，並指示格林多人應怎樣善用這神恩(格前 14:29–33)。所有基督徒領洗時，都分享基督的司祭、先知和君王三職：「天主的聖民也享有基督的先知任務，特別以信德愛德的生活，到處為基督作活的見證。又向天主奉獻讚頌的祭品，就是奉獻一切歌頌主名的唇舌之成果…」(《教會》教義憲章 第12條)。
作為領受了堅振後的基督徒, 「它賦予我們聖神的特別力量，為能傳播及維護信仰，以言以行作耶穌的証人，且勇於承認基督之名，絕不以十字架為一樁羞恥的事。」(天主教教理 1303) 。保祿宗徒也勸告我們: 「你們但要在心內尊崇基督為主；若有人詢問你們心中所懷希望的理由，你們要時常準備答覆，且要以溫和、以敬畏之心答覆，保持純潔的良心，好使那些誣告你們在基督內有良好品行的人，在他們誹謗你們的事上，感到羞愧。」(伯多祿前書 3:15-16)
這篇默想是以 Foundations in Faith – Catechist Catechumenate Manual 為根據，並獲得版權持有人 RCL Benziger, LLC 批准使用。
Isaiah 35:1-6, 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.
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.
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.”
This third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning “rejoice”. Isaiah describes the coming redemption of Israel in glowing terms of nature restored and human being made whole. The people scattered and sent into exile by the destruction of the kingdom through the Assyrian invasion, will be ransomed and brought back into their land. In the second reading, James counsels the Christian community to practice patience, trusting God for what human beings alone cannot provide. The trials the prophets suffered for bearing the Word of God and as models of faithfulness can be an inspiration to Christians in times of difficulty and persecution. Today's gospel focuses on the qualities of mercy that mark the Messiah's reign. He brings healing to the blind and lame, to lepers and the deaf. He raises the dead and preaches glad tidings to the poor. The passage goes on to reflect on John the Baptist, the last of the prophets, sets the stage for the coming for Jesus. We Christians, who are “born into God's reign”, can reflect with awe and joy today on our own calling to share in the charism of these prophets.
Our doctrinal focus on the charism of the prophecy can help to illuminate the meaning of all three of today's readings. As the last great prophet in the Old Testament, John the Baptist called the people to repentance and pointed the way to the Messiah, Jesus. The gift of God's prophetic Spirit is proclaimed by Peter to have been bestowed upon the disciples at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21) Prophecy is named as a charism (or gift) of the Holy Spirit by Paul and he sets up regulations for the exercise of this gift (1Cor 14:29-33). By Baptism, all Christians share in Christ's identity as priest, prophet and king. “The holy people of God shares also in Christ's prophetic office; it spreads abroad a living witness to Him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the tribute of lips which give praise to His name." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 12).
As Catholics who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation, it gives us "a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross" (CCC 1303). St. Peter also exhorts us: "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame" (1 Peter 3: 15-16).
"...Do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you" (1 Peter 4: 12-14).
May God grant us a peaceful heart so that even when faced with endless difficulties, we can remain in a spirit of joy and love to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
This material is adapted from the Foundations in Faith – Catechist Catechumenate Manual with the permission of the copyright holder, RCL Benziger, LLC.