News
Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent

December 15, 2019 – by Rita Rodríguez

“The desert and the parched land will exult; the steppe will rejoice and bloom. They will bloom with abundant flowers… They will see the glory of the LORD,” the prophet Isaiah tells us in today’s first reading. It is a beautiful image, but I can hardly imagine it.

When we speak of the desert, the first image that comes to mind for me is not flowers and lilies blooming, but what I see in photos and videos of immigrants trying to cross the southern border into the US. I do not see flowers in this desert, but people in great need, people held in detention centers, and the fallen who did not survive the harshness of the desert.

John the Baptist knew much about life in the desert. While in prison, we are told in this Sunday’s Gospel, he told two of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” In Isaiah’s words, this question to Jesus might be, “Are you the one who will let us see the desert bloom?” Echoing Isaiah, Jesus responds to John: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” In other words, Jesus responds that Isaiah’s prophecy has been fulfilled in him and states surprisingly that some will be disappointed by his response.

We have an advantage that John the Baptist did not: We know that Jesus is the resurrected Christ and our savior. We know that Jesus is the Messiah that God had promised. This is our faith. But, have we let God open our eyes and ears to see the possibility of the desert covered in flowers? Am I helping those who are not able to walk alone? Am I living a new life in the love of God for those who are dying of sadness and abandonment, and the poor who are enduring many needs? Am I helping and advocating for the human rights of immigrants arriving in our country and those people suffering here because they are undocumented? If I do, I will be helping the desert to bloom not only for these people, but for the whole world — the presence of God alive in the world. And when others see me living this way, they will see a disciple of Jesus who is not disappointed by him, and who, like Jesus, is working to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah that the whole world will see the glory of God.

“Be strong, do not fear!” the prophet tells us.

Rita M. Rodríguez lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She is a spiritual director and helps coordinate the Hispanic ministry at the Jesuit Parish of Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

This reflection was translated from Spanish.





Recent News

Elaine Ireland and Jim Palmer from Loyola on the Potomac Jesuit retreat house will lead our Examen Live! on Aug. 14, 2020, at 12:30 PM Eastern. At the end of the week, let's take a deep breath, remember that we are in the presence of God, and spend a few minutes in prayerful reflection. Sign up to receive updates and reminders.

August 3, 2020 – This month Pope Francis is asking us to join him in praying for The Maritime World. We pray for all those who work and live from the sea, among them sailors, fishermen and their families. Our world cries out for healing and renewal. May we place our hand into the hand of the God who calmed the seas that his beautiful gift of creation may be restored and all whose lives depend on the fruits of the ocean be protected, this day and always. As one, may we rejoice and give thanks. Amen.

On the eve of the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola, we gather (online) to pray as one Ignatian community for healing, justice, and peace. Join us on Thursday, July 30, from 7:00-7:30 PM ET for this bilingual prayer service.

July 30, 2020 - Join Fr. Jim Martin, SJ, on Sun., Aug. 2 at 4 p.m., for a live, interactive discussion as he shares the Ignatian way of making decisions and the surprising closeness to God it brings, which is needed now more than ever. This event is hosted by the Jesuit retreat houses on the East Coast, and proceeds from the event will go to support their ministries.

The Faber Training Program to give the Spiritual Exercises is being offered online by Holy Trinity Church in Washington, DC. The application deadline has been extended to August 21, 2020.

July 3, 2020 – This month Pope Francis is asking us to join him in praying for Our Families. The often-frenetic rhythm of life that we follow is detrimental to our family life. This is an important problem, because no one—neither we as individuals nor society as a whole—can do without families. This is truer now than ever during the time of crisis that we are living. As Pope Francis says, “families are not a problem, they are first and foremost an opportunity.”

July 1, 2020 – Fifteen representatives from Jesuit parishes and organizations in New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina, participated in a Day of Virtual Action in Spanish with a member of Senator Bob Menéndez's (D-NJ) staff on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

view all news

Search news


Eastern Point Retreat House
Eastern Point Retreat House, a grand house located on the Atlantic shore in Gloucester, Mass., has been welcoming retreatants since 1958.