Isaiah 61: 1-4, 8-11
In this third section of the great book of the prophet Isaiah, he speaks of the coming abundance and prosperity of Jerusalem. It has been a terrible set of years for Israel, occupied and physically destroyed by a series of oppressors and now, with the gift of Persia, the future is bright again. The initial verses are those of a human speaker authorized by Yahweh to transform emerging Judaism. In poetic expressions he calls for “a garland instead of ashes” and the “oil of greatness” to describe what lies ahead for the returning nation. Yahweh’s spirit will be over Israel.
I Thessalonians 5: 16-24
Paul concludes his letter with an appeal to live in peace and joy with the budding Christian community he has founded. It is most important, he says, for the people to be at prayer, to offer thanksgiving for the will and guidance that comes from the Lord. He implores his people to remain in what is good and reject evil in all they do. Finally he prays that the community may be “blameless” at the forthcoming of the Lord.
John I: 6-8 , 19-28
Today‘s gospel is part of the prologue, the theological core of a gospel quite different from the synodical tales of Jesus’ life. John is set to name, at the beginning, the overwhelming power and importance of this man who came from God to offer his own sacrifice, that we would be saved by him. John is clear that John the Baptist came to proclaim the coming of the “man of light.” It is the Baptist, John says, who announces the coming of the Lord. John the Baptist is calling people to repentance, to be baptized, to prepare for the coming of this most iconic figure, Jesus of Nazareth.