Third Sunday of Advent – Year B

December 11 - December 17

Gospel Lectionary Text

John 1:6-8, 19-28

1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

1:7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.

1:8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

1:19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"

1:20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not the Messiah."

1:21 And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He answered, "No."

1:22 Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"

1:23 He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah said.

1:24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.

1:25 They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?"

1:26 John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know,

1:27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal."

1:28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.


Welcome to the third week of Advent. Having waited in the apocalypse and the wilderness, we now stand outside the promiseland, waiting to cross over. Origen, the third-century church father, termed “Bethany across the Jordan” as the “House of the Crossing,” evoking the imagery of Israelites crossing the Jordan into the promiseland.

So we wait alongside untold millions who live beyond the Jordan, waiting to cross over. And of course, the text provides the path for the crossing. Theologically speaking, the only way to cross over the river is to go under the water. This marks the baptismal journey, and is the invitation of this week’s text. We are all invited to undergo the baptismal journey of dying to all that is false, so that we may rise to all that is true.


In what ways do you feel cut off and outside of the promiseland, and how are you being invited to renew your baptismal vows?


Come, Holy Spirit, wild and free. Do as you please. Shine your light on me that I might see things as they are, not as I am. Free me to act in your name with courage, creativity, and compassion. See the complete prayer

Word from Below Reflections

Gritty Grace

Years ago, I was serving in a small church in my neighborhood. One week, I was preparing for a baptism and discovered this church did not have a baptismal font. In a conversation with another pastor and friend whose church was down the street, he said, “Not a problem, I will bring you ours.”

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Light from Darkness

A prison cell may be the last place we look for light; they are dim by design. But in my country, the Philippines, there is a flicker of light emanating from behind the bars we so often associate with darkness. The story of Reina Mae Nasino, a 23-year old detained social activist, has awakened a…

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I tried to sleep in a few weeks ago but failed to inform my children of this plan. My daughter came into the room and flipped the light on. “Ahhhh!” Pain shot beneath my eyelids...

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Advent Hope

It’s the third week of Advent and soon the “Word will become flesh.” We will hear the voice of an angel announce “peace on earth.” But let’s be clear, the pathway to peace is paved by the disruptive voice of the prophet. Again this week we hear the voice of John the Baptist crying out...

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Understanding the Bible anew through the Mimetic Theory of René Girard.

Weekly Homily by James Alison