Advent and Christmas are my favorite seasons of the year. They capture the very reason I hope in the first place. For the next 6 weeks of Advent and Christmas Retreat, we will be Living in Hope! Each week, we will focus on one person or persons who helps us live in hope through reflection questions, suggested action, and prayer — including the text of the Sunday readings for easy access.
WEEK 3: St. Joseph
This week, we light the pink candle on our Advent Wreath. The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete means rejoice, and what a reason we have to rejoice, as the celebration of the Lord’s birth is very near!
Our companion for the third week of Advent is Jesus’ father, St. Joseph. Joseph is a man of action, who models for us what it means to love through deeds. His quiet presence throughout Jesus’ life offers us witness of how to companion others through love.
Joseph gives us reason to “rejoice” as he nurtures the infant Jesus through childhood to adulthood. Can you imagine all of the concrete gestures of love and mercy he offered Jesus?
1. What has the Holy Spirit conceived in us so Christ might more fully enter our world?
2. Joseph was a man of action. What concrete gestures of love is God inviting you to do?
3. What or whom is the source of your joy? Offer thanks to God for those people and things that help you know God.
4. What does Joseph teach us about offering Mercy to others?
Action: The Nativity of the Lord
Does your home have a nativity in it? It is a beautiful visual to remember what this season is really about: the waiting for the celebration of the birth of the Messiah.
The first nativity scene was recreated by St. Francis of Assisi. He did so in a cave in Italy because he was fed up with the materialism and consumerism that was rampant in his time. St. Francis wrote to his friend, “I want to do something that will recall the memory of that child who was born in Bethlehem, to see with body eyes the inconveniences of his infancy, how he lay in the manger, and how the ox and the ass stood by.”
The nativity reminds us of the simplistic dwelling where Jesus was born, and it reminds us that our Savior came into the world as an infant, just as we all have.
If you have not set up a nativity in your home, consider making this part of your Advent and Christmas season traditions!
Praying with the Word of God:
The below Readings are from the Sunday Readings for the First Sunday of Advent. Pick one reading each day for prayer. Throughout the week, repeat the scriptures that capture your attention.
If you would like to pray with the daily readings this week in addition to the Sunday readings, the USCCB posts them daily here.
When praying with scripture, I invite you to try the prayer methods of Lectio Divina or Ignatian Contemplation. Here’s a one-page guide to Praying with Scripture and a handy Lectio Divina prayer card.
Third Sunday of Advent
Reading 1: Isaiah 35:1-6A,10
The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10.
The LORD God keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Lord, come and save us.
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.
R. Lord, come and save us.
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.
R. Lord, come and save us.
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11
When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.
Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
- Registration for the Online Busy Person’s Retreat, January 27-30, is OPEN NOW! This is the personalized, one-on-one retreat that comes to you and fits into your busy life! Register here! This retreat brings an individually directed retreat to you with one-on-one spiritual direction via online video-conference.
- Register for my new online retreat that walks you through questions of discernment to joy, peace and clarity. “Overwhelmed No More: 6 Ways to Discover and Live God’s Vision for Your Life” brings the preached retreat experience to wherever you are with content sent weekly for you to work through individually, on your own schedule.
- Advent Resources from IgnatianSpirituality.com, and Sacred Space, Creighton Online Ministries.
Inviting you Deeper as We Walk with Christ:
- Calling Ministry Leaders: Check out my Advent Ministry Resources Newsletter.
- January 9-11: Go! Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference
- January 27-30: Online Busy Person’s Retreat
- Sign up for my Prayer Team and pledge to pray for the weekly prayer requests posted on my Facebook & Instagram, and for the attendees of upcoming events. Email email@example.com.