Psalm: 146:4-10 or
Canticle: Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)
OT Reading: Isaiah 36:1-10
NT Reading: James 5:7-10
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11
Last Sunday was the third Sunday in Advent, and is known as ‘Gaudete Sunday’, that is Rejoicing Sunday. The readings all refer to the coming of the Lord, and the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven – a kingdom where the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear and the dead are raised up.
The following is a lovely version (my favourite!) of ‘Gaudete’ sung by The Mediaeval Baebes.
Again, this hope of the Kingdom is not only referring to the first Advent of Christ coming as a baby and doing miracles as a man, but the hope of a future coming – the second Advent – as the King, when all of these hopes will be fully realised.
I did not realise that Advent is considered a period of ‘penance’ in the Roman Catholic church. I don’t suppose that really applies in Anglican churches, but ‘repentance’ featured in the readings for the 2nd Sunday in Advent. (Repentance seems to me to be a slightly preferable word, since the word ‘penance’ gives the impression that one can atone for one’s sins oneself, whereas ‘repentance’ is rather turning around and going in a new direction).
The passage in James (read the whole chapter if you can) gives us a clue how we can repent and pursue the Kingdom while we wait for its ultimate fulfillment :
- Don’t live anymore for pleasure on earth
- Be patient
- Establish your heart
- Grudge not (grumble and complain) against one another
- Consider the examples of the prophets when times are hard
- Swear not (don’t make promises or oaths)
- Sing psalms
- Confess faults to one another