HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (YEAR A) DECEMBER 15, 2019.
Isaiah 35:1-6A, 10
Psalm: Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10.
Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.
My dearest children of God, I welcome you to another moment of encounter with the master. As disciples, we have all gathered at the feet of the Master to listen to the redeeming words of eternal life. May this encounter today transform our lives. Amen.
The readings of today reiterate the importance of advent preparation. James in the second reading encourages us not to complain about one another and to take an example of the hardship and patience of the prophets of God. John indeed was one of such prophets and the greatest indeed. He was thrown into prison for being a controversial figure; preaching repentance and living by example.
The gospel pericope narrates how John sent his disciples to find out who Christ is. Curiosity is a remarkable character of human behavior especially in the face of something significantly surprising and remarkable. Christ came in a manner and fashion that defeats the expectation of an average Jewish man or woman. His works were what testifies to His messianic character, but His identity as the expected messiah was questionable by the Jews. At Christmas, He assumed a lowly state, being born in the likeness of men, in a manger. John too came as a forerunner of Christ, he dressed and lived a lowly life of humility and that is among the qualities that made him the greatest.
As humans, we have some expectations or a mental picture of how the powerful, wealthy and influential people should look like. For instance, if a bishop is seeing playing tennis in a court, an average Catholic can hardly recognize him because he or she is accustomed to seeing him in clerical regalia. You can hardly convince such a person that the man in the tennis court is the Bishop. Such a person can only be convinced if he or she has the courage to move closer to ask: are you the bishop? in the same way, the disciples of John asked, “Are you the Christ or are we to expect another”. This question reflects their lack of understanding of who Christ is. When John appeared in the wilderness with his unconventional lifestyle, many could not believe his message because he does not look like what they were expecting–the Messiah; yet, when the Messiah came, they still could not recognize him. As humans, we often miss opportunities in life simply because we have our own personal expectations of what we are expecting should look like or the way it should come. A lady once narrated how on the day of her interview, she snubbed the gateman not knowing he was the recruiting manager who is going to interview her; her interview ended at the gate. In the spiritual, we often miss moments or special opportunities to encounter the grace of God simply because our minds are filled with some expectations, or curiosity that we fail the recognize what God has already made available to us.
Advent may seem to be a familiar season we go through every year, but this should not diminish our preparation, and expectation to meet Christ again. Let’s recognize Christ in all we meet, especially in the faces of the poor and the homeless. Let’s feel His presence in all we do. It is not enough that the disciples of John should ask who Christ is, what is more, important is to listen to His message and live by them. You don’t need to know my identity to treat me well or listen to my wise counsel.
Christ’s response to the disciples of John highlight the signs that will accompany the messianic age– miracles that will testify to the work of Christ. At Christmas, Jesus comes again and brings with Him blessings and miracles. Jesus did come to gain earthly power. He came among the people to serve them, bringing life. Instead of casting away those persons who are at the margins of society — persons that many would want to send away and out of sight — it is precisely to those people that the Messiah came to restore and save.
We live in a world where people are often divided into two categories. They are either well to do, popular, well-connected, and valuable — or they are those who are down and out for one reason or another and are not valued.
If we wait for the miracles we miss the Christ, therefore our focus should be on Christ and not on miracles or any other side attraction. Advent is the time to prepare to receive Christ, a special season of grace. Don’t allow this opportunity to pass you by, cease this time to make peace and settle all the scores you have with anyone. In obedience to the injunction of James, be patient, never allow the hardships of today rob you the blessings of tomorrow.
Christ praised John as the greatest, yet so little when compared to the least in God’s kingdom because the kingdom of God is the highest reward and achievement anyone can attain. Our earthly preparation to meet Christ and has heavenly implications. We are not simply preparation to meet Christ at Christmas for fun of it, but we are preparing ourselves too for a spiritual encounter and a destination to God’s Kingdom, where each person is greater than John.
We are privileged to be alive this year to celebrate His coming again. A beautiful line in the first reading from Isaiah the Prophet says: ” Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee”
We are preparing to experience the joy that Christ will bring and like those ransomed by God, we shall sing and rejoice. As we decorate our houses this period, let us also decorate our hearts with the graces that this period pours into our lives by saying no to sin and repenting of them; because our hearts are the mangers where Christ will be born again. Let’s be a source of joy and to all we meet, beginning with our families. Let’s heal our broken relationships and heal our bleeding and broken world. May your sorrows flee as we prepare to meet Christ.
I keep you and your family in my prayers.
Prayer: My dearest Jesus, may I recognize in the face of all I meet and in everything I do. Fill me with your grace. Amen.
©Clem C Aladi 2019
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