On this Third Sunday of Advent, four more symbols will be added to the Jesse Tree by the children. These recall the story of our ancestors in faith. They also recall the covenant between God and us, a covenant sealed through the fulfilment of God’s promise of a Messiah. In Advent we prepare to celebrate the Messiah’s birth in the Christmas season, as well as for our Messiah’s return at the end of time.
Elijah. John the Baptist is asked in this week’s gospel if he is in fact the prophet Elijah. Elijah’s association with Mount Carmel makes him a key figure in Carmelite spirituality. He challenges the priests of Baal by building an altar of twelve stones, upon which he offers sacrifice to God.
Samuel. Samuel called the people back to serving God alone. The people of Israel heeded this call. He, and later his sons, were judges over the Israel. When the people were dissatisfied that his sons acted corruptly and dishonestly, they asked for Samuel to anoint a king for Israel, who was to be Saul.
Jeremiah. Jeremiah was called by God to be a prophet to Israel. He was dismayed by his inability to convince the people to repent and convert from their sinful ways. At one point he mourns for God’s people, wishing that his head were a spring of water and fountain of tears to weep constantly over his people’s ignorance.
Zechariah. Zechariah is the father of John the Baptist, who is the central figure in today’s gospel. Zechariah was mute, and when it came time for John to be presented in the temple, Zechariah confirmed Elizabeth’s request to name their son John by writing his directions on a tablet. At that point, his ability to speak was restored.
In Children’s Liturgy of the Word, each child will receive their own copies of these symbols. Take the time to share and discuss these with your children. Read some of the bible stories. Perhaps you can set up your own Jesse Tree at home as a preparation for Christmas.