A Christmas Hosanna – Friday, 3rd Week in Advent – Isaiah 56:1-3,6-8/John 5:33-36

A Christmas Hosanna – Friday, 3rd Week in Advent – Isaiah 56:1-3,6-8/John 5:33-36

The curtain falls today on the first part of our advent preparation. From tomorrow the readings step right into the run up to the Christmas narrative. But for today, we take one more glance at our calling to prepare for the second coming of Christ.

The Gospel taken from St John forms part of a larger text that we read in the fourth week of Lent. So, what’s a Lenten reading doing in Advent? The focus of the reading in Advent is very different from that of the one in Lent. In Lent, Jesus is in the dock, accused by the religious establishment of his time. In Chapter five Jesus gives his keynote speech and then presents us with his testimony and credentials. These credentials and testimony are seen in the season of Advent as a ratification of the fact that Jesus is the Messiah as announced by John the Baptist.

In response to the Jews who want to know how he could make a claim that he was indeed the Son of God, Jesus calls on his second witness, John the Baptist. It was John whom the Jewish authorities sent delegates to (verse 33), inquiring about Jesus. Jesus acknowledges the testimony of John, not that he needed it or accepted any human testimony (as he says in verse 34).

Interestingly, Jesus refers to John as the, “burning and shining lamp.” This should be the focus of today’s reading. Notice, Jesus calls John ‘the lamp’, for He (Jesus) is ‘the light’. Jesus does not fight shy in proclaiming the truth of his divinity. He does this not to stand under a spotlight but as he says in today’s text, “that you may be saved.”(verse 34)

The Gospel of today, in presenting the truth of Christ makes one last ditch appeal before we change the focus of the liturgy tomorrow; that the world may accept the truth of the divinity of Christ and the reason for the season. He is the light in which we need to bask in. Jesus declares this truth in one of this “I am statements” when he said, “I am the light of the world.” He made this claim in the very temple of Jerusalem for all to hear so that all would be saved.

Jesus does not proclaim the truth of faith in some dark deserted corner but does so in the most visible places so that his truth may be heard boldly and loudly. There are voices today that want to shut down the truth that Jesus came to proclaim; “ I am the way, the truth and the life, no one can come to the father except through me.”

The birth of Christ cannot be reduced to a statement of festivity and merriment (that’s why I don’t like the words merry Christmas but prefer HAPPY Christmas). The birth of Christ is a pivotal moment in human and salvation history. It is a moment of tremendous grace when God in his goodness sent a saviour to save us from our sin. This and only this is the reason for the season. Rejoicing and merriment stems not from a beautiful tree or a well decorated Church, the joy of Christmas comes primarily from the truth that a saviour born and a son that is given to save us.

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