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By Bevil Bramwell, OMI, The Catholic Thing, Dec. 15, 2019
On this Third Sunday of Advent, the readings start with a portion of the Book of Isaiah. The backstory of this part of the book conjures up ideas of exile. Many of the people in Jerusalem had been deported to Babylon. In today’s reading, God speaks oracles through his prophet Isaiah. They are oracles of an extraordinary promise and beauty: the glory of the Lord is coming.
Hence, the desert will bloom with flowers. The land will have “the glory of Lebanon,” a reference to the wonderful cedar forests for which Lebanon was known. This gives us a picture of the coming glory of God making everything burst into a rich, thick, new life. In fact, this is what happens when God “comes to save you.” We will never fully grasp the wonder of God saving his rebellious creation – we are part of that rebellion – and bringing it to the full level of life that He intended.
Among other things, salvation will involve visible changes “the eyes of the blind being opened, the ears of the deaf will be cleared,” and so on. These are tangible signs that symbolize the invisible changes taking place in our spiritual senses, as the eyes and ears of our souls open up to God. Physical healing is part of the coming salvation. But there are other positive signs too: the exiles “will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.” We will be like this as we enter Heaven. ….