Third Sunday of Advent

Dec 9, 2020 | Gospel Reflections

John 1: 6-8, 19-28

Sunday Reflection by Sister Mary O’Brien, SNDdeN

The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Gaudete Sunday – ‘Rejoice for the Lord is near’. I am writing this at a time when, in England, we are in lockdown at least until 2 December. There are many questions as to what will be permitted when it comes to Christmas – to what extent will families and friends be able gather to celebrate the coming of Christ? Perhaps we are being called to live in hope, to celebrate Christmas in a way which brings us to a deeper realization of the meaning of the feast.

Advent is a time of waiting and we all experience waiting in our everyday lives with almost every emotion one can imagine – patience, anxiety, annoyance, hope, desperation, excitement….. . In this year, 2020, we wait with greater anxiety than usual since we really do not know what the Lord has in store for us – communally and individually. What is the Gospel for this Sunday going to say to us as we look forward to Christmas?
John is baptizing – and there are many questions addressed to him. Basically: Who are you? Why are you baptizing? John is preparing the way – the way for us to follow so that we may arrive at Christmas having trodden the road which is there for each to find and to follow.

In the first reading Isaiah is joyful having received the Spirit of the Lord and being sent to bring good news to the poor. He proclaims that the Lord will bring integrity and praise to the peoples – and so we can seek to praise God despite all of our difficulties and anxieties in these strange times. We see that the Responsorial Psalm is part of the Magnificat – ‘He protects his servant, remembering his mercy.’

We come to the second reading and wonder can we say, ‘Be happy at all times…’ Well yes, but we look at the many problems and griefs of this time throughout the world – our own and those of our families and friends and the wider community. Yet ‘hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil’. God is there for each one of us and gives us the graces we need to find some consolation in these times – things we have learnt about others and ourselves, the times we have had time to notice a sunrise, a rainbow, a new bud, a beautiful picture, to have time to be. Perhaps this is an opportunity to take the promise of this second reading and to live with it: ‘God has called you and he will not fail you.’
So we come to the Gospel ready to look forward to Christmas, to being creative so as to share in many different ways the waiting of Advent and the coming of Christ in the form of a child. God is there in all of our lives. Let us find joy and peace as we wait and prepare for whatever may happen.


John 1: 6-8, 19-28

A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light.

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?”

He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
The Gospel of the Lord


Meet Sister Mary O’Brien, SNDdeN

Mary O’Brien was educated at Notre Dame High School Manchester. She entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at Ashdown, England, in 1962. After her religious profession in 1965, she was missioned to Liverpool to teach in Notre Dame Collegiate School, Everton Valley and then in Notre Dame High School, St. Helens. Then, back in Liverpool, she spent ten years in Notre Dame High School Woolton which, on reorganization, became St. Julie’s High School, Woolton. Sister Mary went to Kenya in 1992 where she taught for some years, and made many contacts. She was then engaged in ministry and administration in the Kenya Province until 2018 when she returned to the British Province.