Third Sunday of Advent

THE COMING OF THE JUDGE

By M.J. Santa Ana

A common thread in this week’s readings is the anticipation and preparation of the coming of the Lord as judge. Isaiah calls the people of Israel to “strengthen the weak hearts, and make firm the feeble knees” for the impending arrival of God’s deliverance, when miraculous things such as the blind seeing and the lame walking will take place. James exhorts his fellow believers to “not grumble against one another” so they may avoid judgment from the coming Judge who is “standing at the doors”.

When we hear of judgment, particularly in a Biblical context, our first instinct is to think of punishment, destruction and the end times. However, this week’s readings remind us that for those who heard the word of God first, God’s coming in judgment was not something to be feared but something to look forward to. As Isaiah says, it is when “He will come and save you.” Things will be set right by God in ways that seem counter-intuitive to the ordinary existence of this world. In our Gospel, when the disciples of John the Baptist ask Jesus if He is the one foretold of, Jesus instructs them to report back to their master the miraculous things they have seen and heard – the blind seeing, the lame walking, the dead living again – affirming the prophetic message of Isaiah. These are the signs God has come to reconcile the world to Himself. We are called to identify with those who God saves and heals, precisely because we are the ones He came to deliver. Therefore, for us, God’s judgment is not a sword He uses to cut us down, but a shield in which He is keeping us safe for our salvation.

Sunday’s Readings:

Isaiah 35.1-6a, 10

James 5.7-10

Matthew 11.2-11