Third Sunday of Advent

‘A greater than John the Baptist has never been seen’

Matthew 11:11

Begin with a few moments of quiet.

The intention is to open yourself to the presence of God within you and among those gathered. The desire to be open to God is itself the desire of God to break through into your awareness of the presence of God within.

Invite all present to sit comfortably.

Bringing our attention to our breath…….deepening it for a moment…… we are going to do so for three full breaths, drawing the breath all the way in …. feeling it filling your body……focusing on that moment where it stops drawing in and before the body begins exhaling again….. the transition point between the end of one moment and the beginning of another……allowing it all the way out and again focusing on the transition point….the end of one moment and the beginning of another…….

Now return to breathing normally and make the sign of the cross:

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Invite each person present to take a few moments to reflect on:
Where in the past week did I encounter God in my life?
Where in the past week did I inhibit God in my life?

Allow time in quiet for this and then, after a few moments, invite those present to share on this, if they are comfortable to do so. If you like to have some quiet music playing during this click below.

Led by the Spirit – Eric Nordhoff

An introduction to the Gospel

In last week’s gospel we saw that John was speaking about God’s impending judgement. When Jesus comes preaching
the kingdom, he does so not with the threat of hellfire but with the offer of unconditional forgiveness and healing for all who would receive it. What Jesus was talking about goes way beyond anything John could have imagined and that, in a sense, is what makes him least in the kingdom of God, where the last will be first and the greatest will be the servant of all.

This is a very apt message as we continue our preparation for Christmas. Familiarity breeds contempt so they say
and whatever our grasp of the meaning of Christmas it fails to do justice to its deepest meaning. It is only with the eyes of faith that we can glimpse the kind of transformation Isaiah spoke about in the first reading. We are invited to have the courage to see God in love with the world and we are invited to live fully in the world without fear because we know that God will never give up on us. Let us pray for a renewed faith this Advent and Christmas so that the wonder and joy of this great feast do not pass by.

Sean Goan – Let the Reader Understand

Read the Gospel

Matthew 11:2-11
John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Jesus answered, ‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’

As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says:

‘Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way before you.

‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’

Pondering Questions

“The problem is not the feeding of the poor, or clothing the naked, or visiting the sick, but rather recognising that the poor, the sick, prisoners, and the homeless have the dignity to sit at our table, to feel ‘at home’ among us, to feel part of a family. This is a sign that the Kingdom of Heaven is in our midst.” (Pope Francis: LET US DREAM)

Jesus’ ministry brings restoration to people who are captive, healing to the sick, people set free.

Where do you see this in-breaking kingdom of heaven in our society today?
Who are the prophets bringing it about?
John has doubts in today’s gospel and that’s ok. Doubt is not the enemy. It demands to be expressed and explored and offers an opportunity for greater insight and deeper understanding. When have you known this to be true?


Close the time of prayer with the Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Take a moment now to bring to mind those you want to share peace with, family, friends, those where your relationship is broken.

Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil,
graciously grant peace in our days,
that, by the help of your mercy,
we may be always free from sin
and safe from all distress,
as we await the blessed hope
and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Additional Resources

Fr. Kieran O’Mahony offers a scriptural analysis on the Readings in Written  format or on Video

The Spirit of God is seeking to create a newness in our lives, that calls us to a fresh wholeness that requires much letting go of what we have known, and co-creating with God an undreamt-of future for our church, for our world and for ourselves. This does not mean forgetting the past, which has brought us to the present.

The Gospel life is about a new future in God. In an incarnational, evolutionary universe nothing is complete and God is still creating. We are a central part of this creation which is happening in our midst.