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Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Homily - (The Third Sunday of Advent)


First Reading - Zephaniah 3:14-18 ©
Responsorial Psalm - Isaiah 12 ©
Second Reading - Philippians 4:4-7 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Is 61:1 (Lk4:18)
The Gospel of the Day – Luke 3:10-18 ©
(NJB)


Hear this and remember it, God, the creator of the universe, God is not a warrior.

God does not intervene in human affairs, either to pass judgement or to grant reprieve.

God has no enemies.

God is love.

There is wisdom in the words of the Prophet, listen to it.

Be patient; salvation flows from the wellspring of God, from this life into the next.

Great are the deeds of the creator, the creator of the universe is great. God set the galaxies spinning in their course through the heavens, the stars in their clusters, and the planets in their orbit

It is the desire of God, creator of the universe; it is the desire of God that all people be well, be happy, be loving and good.

God desires that we be tolerant and care for one another, that we serve the happiness of our neighbors through charity and in love.

Herein lies the peace of God, in the work of a servant.

God knows us, each and every one of us, God knows what we struggle with, God knows the content of our dreams.

Praise God, and give comfort to God’s servant, when the will of God is done, the message is clear, and the mission is pure. They are one in the same thing, the message and the mission is love.

Here the Good news.

The authors of Luke want to tell us about something about Jesus, through a narrative concerning Saint John the Baptist.

Take a moment and reflect on the wisdom of John has given to us here.

The spirit of truth was in him, as it is in all of us. We are created in the divine image, in the image of God, God made us.

We are with innate capacities for reason, wisdom, and love. It is these qualities we are referring to when we say that we are made in the image of God; creator of the universe.

Everyone and everything in the universe, every moment of time flows from and is sustained by the providence of God.

We did not then (in the time of John), and we do not now need to wait for the anointed one, for a Christ to preach to us and tell us the truth.

The truth is spoken all around us, in ordinary moments, in normal conversation, the truth is speaking to you in your own heart, at the core of your being; you may find it in the seed of God’s Word that is germinating within you; just as it was spoken by John to those that followed him, and by Jesus who came later.

“What must we do?” The people asked.

John and Jesus responded according to the best tradition of the prophets

Give.
Share.
Act mercifully.
Be kind.
Act justly.
Be well.
Act lovingly.
Do no harm.
Ahimsa

Execute your offices and fulfill the trust that has been placed in you faithfully; do it without corruption.

There is nothing extraordinary in these precepts. This is the ordinary way of life that we are called to.

Nevertheless, this message stunned the people who heard it preached from the Mount of Olives, by the River Jordan, to hear the truth spoken so simply, with such conviction. It alarmed those who listened so much so that they thought John might a divine being, and they became conviced that Jesus was.

Why is this our response to the truth when we hear it?

It is precisely because the solution to the world’s sickness (the desire to sin and the love of evil) is so simple that when we try to imagine these solutions coming to fruition in our own lives, we get lost in the overwhelming reality of what is.

We are awash in sin and the consequences of sin, our and everyone’s, both the living and the dead. As if we were trying to hold back an ocean of greed, hate and fear with a wall made of paper, as thin as a wish.

In the here and now, we all know what the solution is, and yet we do not faith in one another, we do not trust that each of us will do our part to stop. This is because it is evident that many have no desire to do their part, no desire at all.

The realities of sin and evil are so prevalent, so vast that when we try to imagine a resolution to them with the only solutions that are available to us (love and mercy), the scope of the problems takes on a cosmic significance.

Remember this:

No matter how great the reality of sin and evil are, they are rooted in time and space, they are finite, as such, they are infinitely less than the infinite love of God.

This is the mystery of the Gospel

John was wise when he set aside a claim to divinity; when he set aside the expectation that he was himself an anointed being come to solve the world’s problems.  He knew that they would not be solved in his lifetime, not in the final sense, because sin and evil are a part of the human condition.

He also knew that another would come to pick up his mantle, to carry on that work, he was confident in this knowledge because he understood the nature and role of the prophet, and that the truth is spoke in every generation, in every community, in all times.

John was wise to point his followers to the future, because we are led into the place of justice and mercy only by our desire for it. We are led by the power of hope, and through the expectation of its realization.

It is not necessary for us to believe as the Gospel writers did, that John was pointing to the coming of Jesus of Nazareth, because, if it had not been Jesus, it would have been someone else, as it will be someone else in our own future, because God’s redemptive work never ends.

When we are on God’s threshing floor, we must understand that we arrived there as we are, a complete person, we came as the whole stalk of wheat.

That is how we encounter God, in our entirety; each of us as a whole person.

The wheat and the chaff are not separate people, sinners and saints. We are each of us the wheat, and the chaff together, saint and sinner combined in one body.

It is the encounter with the divine that frees us from the compulsions and addictions that bind us to our sins.

Gods winnowing fan blows against us like the wind, it is the breath of the Holy Spirit blowing over us and flowing into us; freeing us from the fear and hate, from the desires that cause us to lie, cheat, steal, to harm our neighbors, even those we love.

The Spirit ruhah carries us to the fire where all of that doubt is burned away, not in a fire of prosecution, judgement and destruction, but in the fires of transformation, purification, and hope.

When we pass through it, we become a new creation.


First Reading - Zephaniah 3:14-18 ©

The Lord, the King of Israel, is in Your Midst

Shout for joy, daughter of Zion,
Israel, shout aloud!
Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem!
The Lord has repealed your sentence; he has driven your enemies away.
The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear.
When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem: Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior.
He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.


Responsorial Psalm - Isaiah 12 ©

The Rejoicing of a Redeemed People

Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Truly, God is my salvation,
  I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
  he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
  from the wells of salvation.

Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
  Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!
  Declare the greatness of his name.

Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Sing a psalm to the Lord
  for he has done glorious deeds;
  make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy,
  for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.


Second Reading - Philippians 4:4-7 ©

The Lord is Very Near

I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near.

There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.


Gospel Acclamation – Is 61:1 (Lk4:18)

Alleluia, alleluia!

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor.

Alleluia!


Gospel - Luke 3:10-18 ©

'Someone is Coming Who Will Baptize You With the Holy Spirit and Fire'

When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing-fan is in his hand to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ As well as this, there were many other things he said to exhort the people and to announce the Good News to them.


The Third Sunday of Advent