Have you ever met a celebrity before? In some cases, the person might live up to or beat your expectations, or you might learn why you should ‘never meet your heroes’. Either way, the encounter certainly leaves a mark from the experience. As we reach the third Sunday of Advent reflecting on the beginnings of our walk with Christ, we reach the stage where we have encountered Jesus and turn to the Scriptures to better understand what that means.
The first reading is full of the joyous language of restoration. The poetry of the prophet points towards a new life, as if a desert came into full bloom. The encounter with the love and mercy of God relieves the people from whatever holds them back. Fear? Gone. Blindness and deafness? No more. Weakness, feebleness, and infirmity? A thing of the past. Encounter with God’s radical presence renews and restores the promise of life.
Jesus’ own testimony in the Gospel furthers and fulfills what Isaiah preached. When asked about who he is, he points to those who have come to him, the blind, the lame, the infirm, the dead and the poor. All these and more who have had encounter with Jesus experience a deep change in their lives, whether physical or spiritual, and leading them to a fuller life than before.
Yet we all know, that even if we have encountered Jesus in our lives, we all still struggle with bad habits, temptations, and sins. This is why St. James counsels his flock not to be judgmental or to lose patience with one another, but instead, with a strong heart, bear the faults of others patiently. Essentially, he reminds us that if someone is struggling to shine with the new life of Christ, we are called to live it all the more brightly!
Pope Francis begins ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ by saying that “Each encounter with Jesus fills us with joy, with that deep joy which only God can give.” Francis reminds us that an encounter with Jesus is momentous, but not a one-time-only event! This week I invite you to do two things. First, recall your first encounter with Jesus, what that meant, what that felt like, and what it called you to do in response; reconnect with that moment and with Jesus through it. Second, be aware of moments in your day-to-day life where Jesus may be encountered and reach out your hand in reply. Where will you meet Jesus today?
Written by: Alex Craven, Family Faith Formation Coordinator