Homily 3rd Sunday Advent. Year B 14th December, 2014
Our Advent journey of waiting is nearing its end... one more Sunday after this and then Christmas will be upon us....
There a tone of increasing joy and expectation 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....
We had John the Baptist proclaiming the coming of the Lord last weekend,,. And here he is again this weekend,..... What is going on with that>??
Well, of course, we are now in the church Year B which is the readings of Mark’s gospel, which is the first and the oldest existing gospel we have... its also the shortest and most to-the-point.
Because last weekend’s reading from Mark is so short on detail about John the Baptist, the compilers of the lectionary felt it was important to go into more detail about the importance of St John the Baptist and his role of preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. And so, they dip into John’s gospel, the youngest of the four gospels, and the one with the most theologically mature message ... It goes deeper about the significance of John and it is profound...
John the Baptist is an extraordinary figure... his whole reason for being.. his whole mission in life was to prepare the way for the coming of the Kingdom, which will be perfectly personified and completed in Jesus. His whole reason for existing is very humbling.. to get everyone ready to greet the coming of the Lord and then to get out of the road when he arrived. He has to become less so that the Messiah, (Jesus) , can become more. So, in this gospel, he makes it abundantly clear. “I am not the light, but i testify to that Light, who is Christ.. I am not the Messiah but i have come to prepare the way for the messiah....
John does a wonderful job in getting everyone to clear the decks and prepare the way... to straighten the paths, and to level the mountains and fill the valleys to make ready the way of the Lord... and then he steps back into the background.. that is the role of each of us as followers, friends and disciples of Christ... to prepare a home for Christ in our hearts and in our lives and in our world and then to get out of the way and not be an obstacle to what God is doing in our lives and in our world.. and, more-so.. to help out and encourage in any way we can to foster the values of the kingdom in our choices, priorities and actions...
There is something ironic here though... John the Baptist learnt the hard way that being a loyal follower of God meant having to change his ways to match the ways of God... in many ways, rather bemusingly, John the Baptist got a bit of a shock when Jesus arrived, because he was preaching the judgement of God... that God will come in power with his threshing knife and uproot the weed and sort out the wheat from the chaff and throw the weeds into the fire... and bring down God’s judgement upon the earth.... uprooting the stubborn plants... but then along comes Jesus and he announces, in line with our first reading... a time of grace and favour,... or cancellation of debt, of freedom of prisoners, of renewed life... a time of jubilee... (Now, BOTH perspectives are to be found in the Old Testament.. BOTH are valid... and the both messages are found in Jesus’ teaching too... but the emphasis is very different... Poor St John... it’s as if he was preparing 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 by surprise... and we know he was confused... he sends disciples to ask of Jesus “are you... the one who was to come.. or are we to wait for another????” And Jesus replies “look around and tell him what you see.. the lame walk, the deaf hear, and blessed is he who takes no offence in me”... Jesus is gently inviting John to see that his mission is indeed apocalyptic but it is a time of great grace and mercy and invitation... there will indeed be judgement but those who reject his invitation will bring judgement on themselves by their foolish rejection of life and light in Christ...
And so, John the Baptist is a great example to us... he is the model of a good disciple.. We, like john, are to point to Christ.. to prepare the way for him... to assist in what God is doing in our lives.. cooperate fully in whatever God is doing ... and to 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 ourselves to 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.. it can often be very difficult for us too...
We can so easily want to stretch God’s ways and thoughts so that they suit our desires and wants and expectations and we must stop ourselves from doing that... and be on our guard... to become less and let Jesus become more...
· FR. PAUL W. KELLY
P Save a tree. Don't print this e-mail unless it's really necessary
The Lord be with you
Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.
My soul rejoices in my God
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