Third Sunday of Advent

Lectionary Readings: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 -- James 5:7-10 -- Matthew 11:2-11

What, then, are the signs of this Reign of God we anticipate this Advent season? Those who are cast away are brought close. The rejected and marginalized are made whole. The sick are healed, the blind receive their site. There doesn't seem to be any doubt about these necessary characteristics and descriptive markers. It's what Jesus says. And it is what Isaiah looks sees in his vision of the land of justice, a place to strengthen and heal and empower; where we banish fear, violence, and injustice.

Looking at world events these days, the dissonance is loud and clear. How can this Reign come to pass? "Thy Kingdom come" is our prayer, but the reality of that often escapes us in our daily lives in families, communities, and nations.

James counsels patience, as we all knew he would, but it hardly makes it an easy virtue to embrace. Patience comes to us together with perseverence, and we are reminded of the examples of our ancestors.

You have to be careful about calls for patience, because sometimes the voice of the oppressor says to the oppressed, "Be patient in your chains," as a way of making said chains more secure. This is why a call to patience must also be a call of perseverence in the work of justice. Dorothy Day used to quote St. Catherine of Sienna a lot -- "All the way to heaven is heaven."

Who can count the amount of injustice in the world? The more we count, the more we would find. So when the flood comes, our call is to do what we can, with what we have, where we are. That's what Mary did and the prophets before her.