Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Catholic Reflections 582 : Homily 3rd Sunday Advent. Year A - 11th December, 2016

Homily 3rd Sunday Advent. Year A - 11th December, 2016

       First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6. 10
       Psalm: 145:6-10. “
Lord, come and save us
       Second Reading: James 5:7-10
       Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

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Homily 3rd Sunday Advent. Year A - 11th December, 2016

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-6. 10
Psalm: Ps 145:6-10. “
Lord, come and save us
Second Reading: James 5:7-10
Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

There is a lot to like about the extraordinary Saint John the Baptist, - The great (fiery) preacher and prophet, who dramatically proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of God…. 

Saint John the Baptist is one of my co-patron saints…  I was born on the eve of the feast of the Birth of John the Baptist…  and I took the name “John” as my confirmation name…  (although I was being a bit greedy,  but I am sure, God didn’t mind..   “John” represents John the Evangelist.. The beloved disciple…  but the more I learnt about John the Baptist, I claimed him too…  under the same saints  name….so, I have two patron saints from my confirmation name.  I am sure that God doesn’t mind us gathering as many patron saints, to inspire our lives as is helpful in our mission to follow Christ. People whose lives, actions, personalities and challenges inspire us to complement each other to reinforce the good news of Jesus.

As much as I like Saint John the Baptist, people might be relieved to know that I won’t be wearing shirts made of camel-hair or eating wild locusts and honey or preaching fire and brimstone homilies!!  But the example of John is very engaging….his single-minded focus on the gospel, his simplicity and austerity, and his humility and of course his role as pointing away from himself and towards Christ.    

John the Baptist…was making the paths straight,  removing the barriers,  uprooting the weeds and non-fruit bearing trees in the path……// The style of John the Baptist and the style of Our Lord..  are very different..  but complementary  styles…   John was fire and brimstone…  (but totally true to the Kingdom..)  and Jesus is Grace, and mercy….(the fulfilment of the Kingdom)…. Their messages are both correct. Our Lord himself also spoke of a day of reckoning and of ultimate judgement but he shows us that God is determined to gather the lost and save as many people who have strayed and bring them back into the eternal fold. It also tells us that God’s judgment is one of Mercy and love, and that God means to destroy sin not by punishment and condemnation, but by flooding the world with mercy and grace and drowning out sin with so many good virtues that the vices have nowhere to flourish.  

The two different emphases… make a lot of sense……I was thinking the other day, the people who actually build roads have to do the hardest physical work…..they really disturb the ground,  break it open, (break through the tough ground and till it, to make it receptive for what was to be built up)….  To uproot, tear down, to clear-out,  smooth out…   Road builders do a lot of the heavy work so that others can move along afterwards and travel smoothly and well in the desired reaction….  John is similarly up-ending things in preparation…    so that the coming messiah might plant and grow and arrive in the hearts of all. ….

He was fiery but he was must have been very much an attractive and charismatic character to many people…   He had loyal disciples who followed him, many of whom followed Our Lord when he arrived…..   People came from everywhere to hear him and repent of their sins and prepare by radically turning their lives around and back to focusing on God and God’s Kingdom…..  ..  even though his message was challenging.. we are even told that King Herod who imprisoned him for his outspoken message nevertheless liked him and liked to hear what he had to teach…

The preaching and the message style of John the Baptist is so different to that of Our Lord’s.   John preached God’s imminent judgement, and fire and uprooting…  and then Our Lord came along proclaiming a time of God’s favour and inclusion and mercy….    Even John had to ask..  “are you the one who is to come, or ought we to wait for another?”

But what obedience and humility John showed,   he readily admitted to being lesser so and our Lord greater…. And even though his expectations of what kind of Messiah Jesus would b, turned out to be quite different, he humbly submitted and did not take offence at the seeming change of focus./    Our Lord is indeed the Messiah but he wants to teach us to let go of expectations of him and his Kingdom that are more about earthly power// than God’s mysterious and gracious ways.  

Us humans must really try the patience of God….   Here comes The Messiah and some people say to him…. “you aren’t doing and saying what WE expected the Messiah to do and say…..  so we are not sure if you fit the bill…….”…..  Our Lord, with infinite patience and grace, replies to all who hesitate…  “I am indeed the messiah… now let me show you who the messiah is and what he does….  Let ME show you just what the Kingdom of God and its values are really like…. Put aside your pre-suppositions about how you thinks things SHOULD be, and see how they really are…..(sadly, many who had built the world according to their own world-view, were not prepared to receive this challenging shift towards God’s ways of seeing and acting….)… To his credit, John the Baptist and so countless followers of the Lord… did open their minds and hearts to Christ’s message. Of course, if God wants to save us by Mercy and Grace, instead of judgement instead of by Judgement and vengeance; so be it!  Who are we to question Christ? 

Jesus answers wonderfully to John’s question….    All who look and listen will indeed realise that he is definitely the messiah, because the blind see, the lame walk and the deaf hear… …//   Our Lord shows that he is indeed the fulfilment of the Messiah as foretold long ago by the Prophet Isaiah whom we hear from in the first reading today…

The qualities of the disciple of Christ  are the qualities of God’s Kingdom…    which must be about giving justice to those who are burdened,  compassion,  helping the poor and needy in real and practical ways,   protecting everyone - including the stranger… the outsider…   show mercy…  patience…   respect…  care….  God’s Kingdom is about practical action to make a difference in people’s lives… showing true care, compassion and active assistance.

St James calls on everyone who follows Christ to be patient …    like the farmer who must wait patiently for the crop to produce in its own due time…..   One cannot will the harvest to come any quicker than the season allows……In the meantime he says….live and practise the values of God’s kingdom…   patience, reverence, hope, service, and harmony -  avoiding complaining about one-another; not getting caught up in factions and rivalries and disputes…… 

Our Lord reminds us that John the Baptist was a sign of consistency and refusal to settle for a watered down version of the good news of God….  
Jesus praises John the Baptist as highly as possible… but then adds something very special….. “as highly praiseworthy and special as John the Baptist is…  the least in the Kingdom of heaven will be greater than him!!!!’   Jesus (even now) reminds us that membership of the Kingdom comes with a different mindset… the lowly, the poor, the outcast, the rejected… these are IMPORTANT to God…  these are to be treated with as much reverence, respect and given what they need because they are beloved, cherished members of GOD’S FAMILY, and to be fully given this respect…   this is astounding and wonderful news…  no wonder this Sunday is called “rejoice Sunday”
Why should we be joyful?  Because the Lord is near!  Because God is saying, he does care very much for us and the many worries and tragedies and injustices and needs that affect us in our lives. God wants to be near us, God wants to be one of us. God wants to walk with us in our joys and our sorrows, our graces and temptations.
For all those who are bowed down, suffering, and experiencing illness, bereavement, lack of freedom, injustice, lack of food, shelter and the necessities of life, the Lord says,….   Be strong..   keep hoping.. don’t give up…  I am coming… (says the lord,  …..God promises……. I will never forget you)

Fr Paul W. Kelly

Sharing the Word through the Liturgical Year: (1997). Gustavo Gutierrez

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3rd Sunday Advent. Year A

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
option two on the cards/ Have mercy on us, O Lord./ For we have sinned against you./ Show us, O Lord, your mercy. And grant us your salvation.
Memorial Acclamation

1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.

2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.

3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.

Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
  Blessed be God forever.

Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
  Blessed be God forever.
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.
     May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.

Advent 2 p.16

Euch prayer III p.58

Go in peace.

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