The call to trust
A reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year B
by Sr. Desiré Anne-Marie Findlay
The Scripture passages for the Third Sunday of Advent leave me breathless. They are so certain, so steeped in God and what God can accomplish in hearts and homes all over the world. Each reading stands alone beautifully, but collectively they speak one big, bold word: Confidence.
In the first reading from Isaiah, there is no question about God’s intimate love which ignites the anointed. As the Spirit of the Lord breathes into those who dare to speak truth and goodness, all who find themselves weighed down and held back – those who cannot wrestle themselves free from addiction, corrupt governments, toxic relationships – they receive an invitation. God’s breath moves through the anointed, offering all who walk with heavy and broken hearts an invitation to deliverance. There is rejoicing as the earth bursts forth with new life in joyful celebration of good news, healing, and redemption.
The reading from 1 Thessalonians echoes an assuredness in God’s ever-present love and in what that love can accomplish in a single person. Called to prayer, gratitude, and discernment, all are invited to embrace the movement of God within. While the reading from Isaiah reveals what the Lord can do in the world around us, the letter to the Thessalonians serves as a reminder that there is also a world to be renewed within us. It becomes a call to interior freedom, still undeniably inseparable from God’s intimate love and faithfulness, and results in a holiness that permeates the entire person.
In the Gospel passage, John the Baptist serves as an example of one who is completely confident in God and God’s call. Standing firm in his own identity – knowing that he is not the light but testifies to it, that he is not the one who is to come but prepares a way for him – John remains unfazed by the questions asked of him. With such certainty in his identity, John is not only confident in his own work but most especially in God’s work. He knows what is his to do, and he knows what is God’s to do. Thus, John goes about his work with conviction, determination, and humility.
Trusting in God’s presence, trusting in God’s fidelity, trusting in God’s call – it has the great power of leading us to live with confidence in ourselves and in what God asks of us. When I can say, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me”, then I am able to recognize that God is with me and that new life for the whole world is possible (Isaiah 6:1). When I know that “The one who calls [me] is faithful”, then my faithfulness is strengthened as I strive to respond daily to God and God’s invitation to interior freedom (1 Thessalonians 5:24). And when God calls me “to testify to the light”, I am reminded that it is God’s light and God’s breath which sustain all that I am and all that I do (John 1:8).
Advent is a time to be renewed in the call to trust. As we anticipate the new life that will burst forth across the earth in the form of a God who chose to become human, Advent is a reminder that not every day will be a passionate living-out of our call to transform ourselves and the world. Sometimes setting captives free, striving to remain holy, and living with determination will entail silence, darkness, and questioning. To be faithful in the waiting – in the silence, the darkness, the questioning – that in itself has great power to breed confidence. We need only to trust.
The readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year B, are
Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
Sr. Desiré Anne-Marie Findlay is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix, a Franciscan community also known as the Felician Sisters. After four years in formation with the Felician Sisters, she taught Theology, Spanish, and Dance at an all-girl’s high school in Southern California. Sister Desiré now lives in Western Pennsylvania where she works closely with Catholic youth and young adults as the Vocation Director for her community.