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Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Homily - The Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)


First Reading - Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 ©
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):6-10 ©
Second Reading - James 5:7-10 ©
Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)
The Gospel According to Matthew 11:2 - 11 ©

(NJB)

The Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)


Listen to the prophet, this reading from Isaiah is a prayer of hope.

Be mindful, do not take the words that are given here as literal truth.

This is a prayer for healing and restoration, a prayer for salvation, something which God will lead everyone to…but not in this life, this is not a prayer concerning our expectations for this world.

The things we hope for, God’s deliverance, those hopes are for the next world, God will not intervene in the events of our lives, not in the here and now.

We have the choice to live our lives as if we believe in the things we hope for, which is faith, or whether we do not.

In the next world we shall witness the whole creation in the exultation of God, we shall not be concerned with ephemeral things, such as glory.

We will face our fears and watch them disappear. Have courage now, and patience while we wait.

Do not wish for the vengeance of the God, or divine retribution to be visited on your enemies, rather seek to have no enemies, forgive those who have hurt you, and ask for their forgiveness in return.

This is a prayer for healing, seek in your own heart the will to see everyone healed.

In that moment you will experience something of the everlasting joy that awaits us all the love God.

Listen to the psalmist!

Praise God, creator of the universe. Praise God, with words and song.

God is the author of our salvation, do not trust in princes and kings. And know that God is not a king.

The life of a human being, the time of humanity on earth, our window on life is only a brief flash in the night. We are born, we breathe for a time, and then we are gone.

The Earth itself will not survive the dying of the sun.

Happy are those whose help is God, the creator. Happy are those who assist God in the divine work of mercy and justice:

Lift up the oppressed, wherever they are: feed the hungry, free the prisoner, teach the ignorant.

Pray for your own faults to be forgiven, your own blindness lifted.

Advocate for those who need an advocate, care for those who cannot care for themselves. Find those who are lost in their wickedness and bring them home.

Be mindful!

If we think of the second coming of Jesus as an actual return; we are mistaken. Jesus will not return in the flesh, because that is against nature, and we each have only one life to live on Earth.

If we think of Jesus coming to Earth as God, of his coming to bring about the end of time; we are mistaken. God will not intervene in the life cycle of our planet, because God made us and our planet free.

The apostle was wrong to engage in prophecy of this nature.

Be mindful of this error. Do not repeat it.

Take these words to heart: be patient, live a good and loving life; even in the midst of turmoil. When we live in the promise of the divine way, the divine way becomes the reality of our lives.

Praise God, and pray for God’s servant. When the will of God is done, the message is clear and the mission is pure.

Love one another, as God loves you.

Consider the Gospel for today:

John came before Jesus. It is said that they were cousins, but the evidence for this claim is scant.

It is said that James, the apostle and bishop of Jerusalem was Jesus’ brother, but that claim has long been rejected by the Church.  

There is no way for us to know the veracity of these claims, and it does not matter.

John came before Jesus, for a time they worked as contemporaries. It is said that they met at the river Jordan where John was carrying out his ministry of baptism, for healing and repentance.

John baptized Jesus at that time, the moment is presented in the Gospel as a passing of the torch from John to Jesus.

There is no way for us to know if this event ever even happened, or if it did that John and Jesus viewed this moment in this way.

It does not matter. The legacy that has been preserved in this accounts informs us in ways that the actuality behind those events cannot…because the actuality is unknown and unknowable

John prepared the way for Jesus as the Gospel for today indicates. He was arrested shortly thereafter, and shortly thereafter he was murdered. 

John and Jesus belonged to a movement, a movement of the people, the am haaretz, a movement for the people, a movement calling for justice, for unity, and salvation.

They saw their work as something connected to the prophets. They were reformers, they were people whose preaching synthesized the sacred texts. They boiled the commandments down to their essence and returned them to the people in the simplest form.

“Love God, with all your strength and all your heart, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

That is the whole of the law, and all the words of the prophet were summarized therein.

Many of John’s followers became followers of Jesus. Leaders in John’s group became leaders among Jesus’ disciples, but not all who had followed John came along. It is to these people that this gospel is pointed.

It was written to remind them of the sequence of events; first John, then Jesus.

It this was the exploitation of an ancient theme among the Hebrews. It is a story reflected in the patriarchalt narratives, God’s expressed favoritism for the younger son; for Able over Cain, for Isaac over Ishmael, for Jacob (Israel) over Esau, for Joseph over all of his brothers.

The gospel of today is a piece of politics. It is a message to the holdouts among John’s camp, expressing love and pride in the work of John, while telling them in no uncertain terms that the way forward was with Jesus.

This was the beginning of Church politics, and as with all such actions, it healed some aspects of the divide, while exasperating others.

Such is the way of human beings.   

Be mindful.


First Reading - Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 ©

God Himself is Coming to Save You

Let the wilderness and the dry-lands exult, let the wasteland rejoice and bloom, let it bring forth flowers like the jonquil, let it rejoice and sing for joy.

The glory of Lebanon is bestowed on it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, the splendour of our God.

Strengthen all weary hands, steady all trembling knees and say to all faint hearts, ‘Courage! Do not be afraid.

‘Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you.’

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy for those the Lord has ransomed shall return.

They will come to Zion shouting for joy, everlasting joy on their faces; joy and gladness will go with them and sorrow and lament be ended.


Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 145(146):6-10 ©

Come, Lord, and save us.

It is the Lord who keeps faith for ever,
  who is just to those who are oppressed.
It is he who gives bread to the hungry,
  the Lord, who sets prisoners free,

Come, Lord, and save us.

It is the Lord who gives sight to the blind,
  who raises up those who are bowed down,
the Lord, who protects the stranger
  and upholds the widow and orphan.
Come, Lord, and save us.

It is the Lord who loves the just
  but thwarts the path of the wicked.
The Lord will reign for ever,
  Zion’s God, from age to age.

Come, Lord, and save us.

Alleluia!


Second Reading - James 5:7-10 ©

Do Not Lose Heart; the Lord's Coming Will Be Soon

Be patient, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. Think of a farmer: how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains! You too have to be patient; do not lose heart, because the Lord’s coming will be soon. Do not make complaints against one another, brothers, so as not to be brought to judgement yourselves; the Judge is already to be seen waiting at the gates. For your example, brothers, in submitting with patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.


Gospel Acclamation – Isaiah 61:1 (Luke 4:18)

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!


The Gospel According to Matthew 11:2 - 11 ©

'A Greater than John the Baptist Has Never Been Seen'

John in his prison had heard what Christ was doing and he sent his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?’ Jesus answered, ‘Go back and tell John what you hear and see; the blind see again, and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor; and happy is the man who does not lose faith in me.’
  
As the messengers were leaving, Jesus began to talk to the people about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the breeze? No? Then what did you go out to see? A man wearing fine clothes? Oh no, those who wear fine clothes are to be found in palaces. Then what did you go out for? To see a prophet? Yes, I tell you, and much more than a prophet: he is the one of whom scripture says:

‘Look, I am going to send my messenger before you;
he will prepare your way before you.

‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is.’


The Third Sunday of Advent (Year A)

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