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Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Homily - (The Second Sunday of Advent)


The Gospel of the Day - Luke 3:1 – 6
Gospel Acclamation - Lk3:4,6
Second Reading - Philippians 1:4-6,8-11 ©
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 125(126) ©
First Reading - Baruch 5:1-9 ©
(NJB)


Integrity and Mercy, these Are the Splendor of God

Bear this in mind:

In the scripture reading for today, from the Prophet Baruch to the Apostle, Saint Paul, we must take Jerusalem and Israel as representative of the whole people of God, we must see these images as humanity writ large.

The hope expressed in the scripture, from the Psalms to the Gospel, is a hope for the whole human race, it is not selective, it cannot be limited to a select group of people in a specific time and place.

Remember this, the splendor of God is not the splendor of royalty. We must not seek the honor of princes or of queens and kings.

The glory of God is the glory of service, we should not expect any reward other than peace.

Though it may be true that our work is met with enmity, remember this, God, the creator of the universe, God has no enemies, and we may not regard those who oppose us as such. They are God’s children, even as we are. They are equal recipients of God’s love.

The path of God’s servant may be arduous, but at the end of the day there is rest.

Do not expect God to prepare the way, for God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings, set those vain notions aside and take up the mission in faith and trust

It was not God who released the Jews from captivity, from bondage in Egypt or in Babylon. It was Moses and Joshua. It was the Emperor of Persia.

Those were great deeds, marked by heroism and courage and mercy.

The clemency offered to the Jews, which led to the diaspora, honored the fellowship that all human beings share. Insofar as all good deeds have their origin in the goodness of the creator, then yes, God deserves the credit.

Nevertheless, it was the free choice of the Persian King to release those who had been enslaved and allow them to return to their homes. That was Cyrus not God who exercised that agency.

Many of those who were freed by the Persians never returned Judea, they remained living in the diaspora, carrying on their traditions in foreign lands, becoming citizens, building synagogues sharing the faith of their ancestors among them.

Some of those who were released returned to Judea, and chose to regard their neighbors and cousins as gentiles, as impure and as outcasts.

This was unjust, and out of alignment with the will of God. It is a mistake that has been repeated over and over again, in their history. It is an error they are living through in the modern day.

Listen to the Prayer of the Apostle

Listen to the Apostle, we are the objects of God’s love, every single one of us.

The creator of the universe loves us.

God has set out to make a good work through our agency, God will see it through. God will not abandon anyone.

The work will be completed and no-one shall be lost.

This is the hope of the Gospels, this is the good news.

Listen, the Apostle prays for you, he prays for everyone, in so doing the Apostle echoes the prayer of Jesus, the prayer of God’s own self; it is a prayer of love, a prayer of hope and a prayer of faith.

God has placed God’s trust in us. God trust is not a fa├žade.

God has placed God’s hope in us, God’s hope is without measure.

God has placed God’s love in us, like a fruit that will flower forever.

To Emulate Jesus We Must Practice Forgiveness

Understanding of history is a crucial component of understanding the gospel. The Christian tradition has always attempted to root itself in historical realities; but with greater and lesser degrees of success, often with outright failure, and intentional malfeasance.

Nevertheless, the study of the tradition gave birth to modern historical criticism; without which we would have no understanding of the uses and limitations of history whatsoever

That only took eighteen hundred years of scholarship to develop.

Our narrative about the life and mission, the arrest and killing of Jesus are a part of the testimony of our faith.

Our understanding of these events is aided when we are able to locate the point in time, the singular moment when our commitment to the teachings of Jesus took place.

Jesus was born during the reign of Tiberius, heir to Augustus, and during the Herodian dynasty’s, he came of age and started his mission when Pontius Pilate was governor of Palestine.

We recall the role that Pilate played in the killing of Jesus, we shout it out at every hour of every day in all parts of the world; we proclaim that Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified and buried.

This story is told unceasingly and without end.

It is long since time that we, as heirs to the ministry and teaching of Jesus, forgive Pilate for the role he played in that political murder.

Just as the Apostle prays for us.

John the Baptist taught us to repent and be forgiven, but Jesus taught us simply, to forgive.

Jesus forgave those who killed him, even as they were killing him, asked God to forgive them when he was up on the cross.

It is time we do the same. This is the character of mercy that we are called to.

The promise of Isaiah, which John echoed in the wilderness cannot be fulfilled unless we do.

Remember, God is the author of our salvation, but we are the agents. It is incumbent on us to proceed with the healing, if the human race is to be made well.


First Reading - Baruch 5:1-9 ©

Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress, put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever, wrap the cloak of the integrity of God around you, put the diadem of the glory of the Eternal on your head:

Since God means to show your splendour to every nation under heaven, since the name God gives you for ever will be, ‘Peace through integrity, and honour through devotedness.’

Arise, Jerusalem, stand on the heights and turn your eyes to the east:

See your sons reassembled from west and east at the command of the Holy One, jubilant that God has remembered them.

Though they left you on foot, with enemies for an escort, now God brings them back to you like royal princes carried back in glory.

For God has decreed the flattening of each high mountain, of the everlasting hills, the filling of the valleys to make the ground level so that Israel can walk in safety under the glory of God.

And the forests and every fragrant tree will provide shade for Israel at the command of God; for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory with his mercy and integrity for escort.


Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 125(126) ©

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.

When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage,
  it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
  on our lips there were songs.

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.

The heathens themselves said: ‘What marvels
  the Lord worked for them!’

What marvels the Lord worked for us!
  Indeed we were glad.

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.

Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
  as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears
  will sing when they reap.

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.

They go out, they go out, full of tears,
  carrying seed for the sowing:
they come back, they come back, full of song,
  carrying their sheaves.

What marvels the Lord worked for us! Indeed we were glad.


Second Reading - Philippians 1:4-6,8-11 ©

May You Become Pure and Blameless in Preparation for the Day of Christ

Every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy, remembering how you have helped to spread the Good News from the day you first heard it right up to the present. I am quite certain that the One who began this good work in you will see that it is finished when the Day of Christ Jesus comes; and God knows how much I miss you all, loving you as Christ Jesus loves you. My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more and never stop improving your knowledge and deepening your perception so that you can always recognise what is best. This will help you to become pure and blameless, and prepare you for the Day of Christ, when you will reach the perfect goodness which Jesus Christ produces in us for the glory and praise of God.


Gospel Acclamation - Lk3:4,6

Alleluia, alleluia!

Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight,
and all mankind shall see the salvation of God.

Alleluia!


Gospel Reading - Luke 3:1-6 ©

The Call of John the Baptist

In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judaea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of the lands of Ituraea and Trachonitis, Lysanias tetrach of Abilene, during the pontificate of Annas and Caiaphas the word of God came to John son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. He went through the whole Jordan district proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the sayings of the prophet Isaiah:

A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare a way for the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley will be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low,
winding ways will be straightened
and rough roads made smooth.
And all mankind shall see the salvation of God.


The Second Sunday of Advent