Homily Third Sunday Advent. Year B - Sunday, December 17, 2017
First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-2. 10-11
Psalm: Luke 1:46-50. 53-54. “My soul rejoices in my God.”
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians. 5:16-24
Gospel: John 1:6-8. 19-28
Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Third Sunday Advent. Year B - Sunday, December 17, 2017 by clicking this link here: https://soundcloud.com/user-633212303/advent-3b-faith-hope-and-love (EPISODE: 63 )
Homily 3rd Sunday Advent. Year B
Our Advent journey of waiting is nearing its end... one more Sunday after this and then Christmas will be upon us..(in fact immediately on the evening of the end of the weekend of the fourth Sunday of Advent) !
There is a tone of increasing expectation and joy in the readings and prayers this weekend... the whole weekend is called “rejoice Sunday” as we are filled with joy at the nearness of the Lord and the salvation he brings, not just to us and our loved ones and friends... but the offer of salvation for all people....
There is something ironic here... John the Baptist himself illustrates in his own life, the disciple who is humble and self-forgetting, rejecting the temptation to pride, and being open to change his thinking, so as to match the ways of God. For example, John the Baptist got a bit of a shock when Jesus arrived, because John had been preaching the old 'fire and brimstone' model of the Old Testament prophets."
He taught that the judgement of God was close at hand. He warned people that God will come in power with his threshing sword and uproot the weeds and sort out the wheat from the chaff and throw the rubbish into the fire. He warned people that the Christ would bring down God’s judgment upon the earth - uprooting the stubborn plants... But then, astoundingly, along comes Jesus. Our Lord announces, (in line with our first reading)... a time of grace and mercy. This is a season of jubilee ...including cancellation of debt, freedom of prisoners, forgiveness of sin and renewed life.
Poor St John... it is as if he was preparing everyone to celebrate a funeral and then at the very last minute someone rushes up and says, “Actually it’s a wedding feast, not a funeral.” That was the dramatic revelation that probably took John the Baptist, (and many others), by surprise... We know he was confused because he sends disciples to ask Jesus: “are you the one who IS to come.. or OUGHT we to wait for another????” (Matt 11:13). Jesus replies “look around and tell John what you see. The lame walk, the deaf hear, and blessed is he who takes no offence in me” (Matt 11:4-6)... Jesus is gently inviting John (and everyone) to see that his mission has something to do with 'end times,' 'judgement' and the 'Day of the Lord,'.... but his ministry is also very much about a time of invitation, joy, redistribution, grace, and mercy.
How many of us would be this gracious and humble, (like John the Baptist), such that, while we are in “full flight.” And expounding our own favourite theme, we are unexpectedly asked to "stop right there" and (instead) announce a message that seems dramatically different from our emphasis? Would we "change tack" immediately, swallow our pride and take up the new priorities? Or would we "spit the dummy"; and "take our bat and ball and storm-off home." Or, would we continue to push our own agenda even well after we have received an update to promote a different focus.
And so, John the Baptist is a great example to us... He is the model of a good disciple.. just like John, we are invited to point to Christ and to prepare the way for him; to assist in what God is doing in our lives, cooperate fully in whatever God is doing ... (even if it means fairly short-notice adjustments and changes in our attitudes to match God's vision)..... and then....stay out of God’s road. Not to be an obstacle or a barrier.. and not to make it about me or my needs or my expectations, but rather submitting to God’s ways, God’s vision and God’s expectations. To be ready to adjust our thinking and match our thinking with God. And not try to match God’s ways to ours !!!!
It would have been very difficult for John but he was faithful and loyal and humble. He was open to the Lord's ways and not merely his own ways, so he was able to adjust his ways to God's vision. (It turns out John was quite right, the Messiah was indeed coming to bring God's judgement upon the world, but it was a word of judgement that was filled with God's love, mercy and compassion and a call back to right-relationship. He was on the right track but had to adjust to the quite-different tone and focus of Christ's message. But as John implied himself by his own words: (Who am I to question the Christ), He is greater than me. I am not fit to untie the strap of his sandal."
It can often be very difficult for us too... We might enter into a situation quite certain that it should be this way and not that way, only to find that we have to adjust our focus or become disgruntled. Let us instead be joyful followers, in the spirit of John... Ready and willing to adjust course according to the sudden and unexpected commands of God.
We would not be a very useful instrument in God's hand unless we are open to adjusting our direction at the sudden instructions of the master-craftsman. To be truly open to those fine adjustments we must not assume that our vision is the perfect touchstone of how everything should be. Rather, we remain open to God’s word, the wisdom of the faith community and the experiences and insights of our brothers and sisters around us.
We can so easily want to stretch God’s ways and thoughts so that they suit our desires and expectations. We are constantly on guard against this so that we can “decrease,” so that Christ will “increase”...
Fr Paul W. Kelly
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Third Sunday Advent. Year B
(Sunday, December 17, 2017)
(EPISODE: 63 )
3rd CANDLE – (pink) THE SHEPHERD CANDLE orTHE CANDLE OF JOY –It reminds us of how the shepherds listened to the angels and followed their message and found Jesus and were overcome with Joy.
O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the clay.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (or/ The Lord be with You)
before hearing the word of God, and sharing the Bread of life,
sing praise to Christ, the Alpha and Omega.
KYRIE ELEISON/ CHRISTE ELEISON/ KYRIE ELEISON
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
Let us pray
Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection you have set us free.
Euch prayer III
Communion side. pwk: LH
Go forth, the Mass is ended.
Wait for the Lord, whose day is near
Wait for the Lord, be strong take heart
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