3rd SUNDAY OF ADVENT (B) December 17, 2017

Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11; I Thess. 5: 16-24; John 1: 6-8, 19-28

by Jude Siciliano, OP

Dear Preachers:


I know, like me, you have had programs interrupted on public radio and television for fundraising. Allow me to do a similar thing. We need your help for "PreacherExchange.com" and "First Impressions." We have kept the Spanish and English internet preaching and liturgical resources free so those in poorer parishes and the developing world can have access to them. Judging from the emails I get that is exactly what is happening. Will you help us continue to do that?

At the priory we pray for our benefactors daily. Please let us know if you have any special Advent petitions. We will pray for them. And please pray for our preaching mission. Thank you.

Send tax deductible checks to:

"First Impressions"

Dominican Friars

3150 Vince Hagan Dr.

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Or: For a secure online donation (Via Credit Card, eCheck, or PayPal): Go to: www.preacherexchange.com/donations.htm and click on the appropriate link.

Thank you.

Today’s gospel passage comes right after the Prologue to John’s Gospel. "In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). Today’s passage moves to the very concrete. We meet "a man named John." While Luke describes the circumstances of his birth to the elderly couple Zachariah and Elizabeth, John’s Gospel presents the grownup Baptist already preaching and baptizing near the Jordan River.

John, the first human we meet in John’s Gospel, is immediately identified as "sent from God… to testify to the light." John is a recipient of the light and that is his identity: he is one sent to share what he has received with others. He is not described as the baptizer, or prophet, but as a "witness." It is a term used more than 30 times in John’s Gospel. "Witness" is derived from the ancient Greek "martyria," from which we get our word "martyr." We have an early hint in this gospel, which is further spelled out in the Synoptics, how John will meet his fate. He will be martyred for witnessing to the light God has sent into the world. John’s fate is also a hint to the opposition those who follow the Light of the world will meet. By our baptism we, like John, are called to be witnesses to the Word-made-flesh.

If the preacher were to stand before the congregation today and ask, "Who will be a witness to Christ?" – all of us baptized should raise our hands. But to give witness means we have first witnessed the events we are giving testimony to. What kind of witness shall we be? It depends on how well we have come to personally know Jesus. Where and how do we see and hear him in our lives? We experience him today in the Word and Sacrament; and in the teachings of our church; in our faith community; among the poor and outcast. As Christmas draws closer and we hear the story of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt we are reminded that Christ is also found among displaced refugees and exiles. We also meet the Word in the world of nature, the arts and in our quiet times of prayer. In these and many other places, the light pierces the darkness of our world. Like John, we are then to be voices that prepare for the coming of Christ.

One of the most direct ways of witnessing to our faith in Christ is by talking about it. Perhaps Catholics are the shyest believers when it comes to "giving witness." Surely we can find ways to do that without being confrontational, or "in the face" of people. How could I be a "voice" that prepares for Christ’s coming? – by witnessing to my faith in my church community through active participation in parish and diocesan ministries; being part of my civic community’s efforts to help the poor, abused, uneducated and migrant; speaking up for the unborn, terminally ill, and those condemned to die; protesting violence towards minorities, Muslims and the undocumented; loving our enemies and being a voice for God’s beloved creation. What would you add to that list?

We are reminded that, as John was a witness to Christ’s coming, witnessing to Christ has its costs. Remember, "witness" in the Scriptures is derived from the word for martyr. John was "martyria" and so are we to be. Most likely we will not meet severe reactions to our witnessing in Christ’s name. In our society people will probably give a light listening and then ignore us, or call us naïve. Still, our job description as Christians is to give witness to others and suffer the consequences, being treated severely, or just being shrugged off.

It is always hard to witness to Christ, but especially in this consumer-oriented season. When people ask us what we want for Christmas would we suggest a donation to a favorable charity? Or, how about chickens, ducks, or goats for poor people in developing countries? Check the Heifer International webpage for meaningful Christmas giving. It is going to feel strange to ask for goats for Christmas, but that might be a concrete way to witness to the light of Christ in the world – a light which pierces the darkness and illumines the face of the poor to us.

We come to worship in the midst of Advent. Just by our coming here we are witnessing to the light. We have made a statement about the importance of Jesus in our lives and, like John the Baptist, we’re not preoccupied with ourselves, but are focused on Christ. Or, at least, we are trying to focus on him and being here, in our community of prayer, is one more step to our turning towards the true light who is coming into the world.

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:



It is an adult Christ that the community encounters during the Advent and Christmas cycles of Sunday and feasts: a Risen Lord who invites sinful people to become the church. Christmas does not ask us to pretend we were back in Bethlehem, kneeling before a crib; it asks us to recognize that the wood of the crib became the wood of the cross.

—Nathan Mitchel, quoted in, LITURGY WITH STYLE AND GRACE by Gabe Huck and Gerald T. Chinchar. (Archdiocese of Chicago, Liturgy Training Publications, 1998, page 97. Paper, ISBN 1-56854-186-4.


Prophet Isaiah proclaims: I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul.--61:10

Mary proclaims: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord--Luke 1:46

Apostle Paul proclaims: Rejoice always.--1 Thessalonians 5:16

Pope Francis calls this third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy. After two weeks of anticipating and preparing, we pause to rejoice in the promise of God’s coming.

Isaiah writes about the joy experienced by being clothed with a robe of salvation and wrapped in a mantle of justice to bring glad tidings to the lowly and to heal the broken hearted. The early Christians saw this as Jesus’ mission and this should be our mission as well. There is no greater joy than doing God’s work.

Mary fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 showing that the Messiah, the hope of Israel and the glory of the house of David, implies by his very name "Immanuel", or "God with us", the Divine presence among the people. Christ present among us is our first and greatest gift, source of our hope and joy!

Paul’s words to "rejoice always" implies sharing. I do not know of anyone who has experienced a joyful occurrence and kept it to themselves. How much greater then when contemplating God dwelling with us? John the Baptist declares to the priests and Levites that Jesus is already among them though they have no recognition (John 1: 26). There should be no such thing as a gloomy Christian if we keep God dwelling with us in mind. Set aside some time to ponder, like Mary, at what this indwelling means in your life. Where do you see Jesus already in your midst in others? Be Jesus to others and see Jesus in others.

At Christmas time, opportunities abound to be the good news. We have only to look at the prophet who rejoiced in being wrapped in the mantle of justice. What work of justice can you accomplish this week? Name one just and noble cause that you feel God is calling you to offer a response. Or, from a myriad of causes that you have never addressed, choose one that you will promote in the coming year and give that as your gift to the Christ child.

Fill this week with all that is joy-filled. Rejoice

------Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC


Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

A man named John was sent from God.

He came for testimony to testify to the light,

so that all might believe through him.


Like John the Baptist, our job description as Christians is to give witness to Jesus, the Light of the world. And like him, we may have to suffer the consequences of our witnessing – being treated severely, or just being ignored and shrugged off.

So we ask ourselves:

  • How am I a "voice" that prepares for Christ’s coming?
  • How have I had to suffer when I have given witness of my faith to others?


"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

This season is especially difficult for most inmates. Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • George Thomas Wilkerson #0900281 (On death row since 12/20/2006)
  • Eugene J. Williams #0441044 (5/1/2007)
  • Byron Lamar Waring #1025501 (7/2/2007)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/


"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: http://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm


1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Dominicales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: http://www.PreacherExchange.com/ - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.

Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736