Third Sunday of Advent
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11
Responsorial Psalm - Isaiah 61:10b
Second Reading - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Gospel - John 1:6-8, 19-28
John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites (to him) to ask him, "Who are you?" he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, I am not the Messiah." So they asked him, "What are you then? Are you Elijah?" And he said, " I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?" He said: "I am 'the voice of one crying out in the desert, "Make straight the way of the Lord,"' as Isaiah the prophet said." Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to unite." This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Real . . . Men . . . wear . . . Pink. However, You are COMPLETELY mistaken and QUITE in error if you think that the celebrant is wearing . . . Pink. It’s not pink, it’s ROSE! Happy Gaudete Sunday to everyone, it is the halfway-point of Advent and a reminder of the imminent and joy-filled arrival of the King of Kings. We have silenced our hearts, we have simplified our lives and have prepared the way for the Lord by turning back to him in repentance and confession, and so it’s time to get excited - - - by wearing ROSE! Not . . . pink . . .
We eagerly expect the King, He is SO close . . . leaders of the Jewish Faith seem to know this to, they are expecting the Messiah to come, and so priests, Levites, EXPERTS of the Jewish faith are sent to inquire of this John the Baptist. Who are you? They ask. They’ve heard of this man proclaiming a baptism of repentance, he’s attracting followers, and so they wonder – who IS this man? Who are you?
Most of us would proceed to give our name. John would certainly have given his name, be was garnering quite a reputation for himself, people were flocking out in droves to be baptized in the Jordan - - - how easily he could have said, “Haven’t you heard of me? I am THE John the Baptist! Autographs at five . . .” But, we don’t hear this from John, his answer shows instead who he is NOT. Greeting, I am NOT the Christ.
I have a lot to learn from John . . . when Fr. Donahue was sick, it was all too easy for me to stroll around the office, pretend *I* was the pastor, act all official, and every once in a while say “looking good here, I’ll be in my office if you need me!” For some reason, no one ever came . . . but then, if important decisions had to be made, a crucial issue was at stake regarding the future of the parish, and one of the staff then entered my office, my first reply would always be, “you know, I REALLY think we should wait until the pastor returns . . . you see, I’m not Fr. Donahue.” Whew, hard work running this place . . .
Greetings, I am NOT Fr. Donahue. Probably the safest statement to make. Greetings, I am NOT the Christ. WHAT? What are you then? Are you Elijah? No. Are you the Prophet? Well, John WAS a prophet, indeed one of the GREATEST of the prophets, a prophet who was related BY BLOOD to Jesus Himself, and what did he say? No. He said “No” because he knew where they were going with their line of thinking. Are you THE Prophet, the Messianic Prophet mentioned in the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, are YOU the one who will unite the 12 Tribes of Israel, Cleanse our Temple and save us from our enemies? Most definitely, NO! “I am simply a voice!” he cries . . . as we have been doing these past few weeks, John had quieted his heart as living a life of simplicity and repentance, NOT to prepare himself to take over things, but to make way for the coming of the King, the King whose coming was getting AWFULLY close.
The King is near! For one day, the purple turns to . . . a lighter color . . . to remind us, it’s time to GET EXCITED!!! REJOICE ALWAYS! PRAY WITHOUT CEASING!!! AND GIVE THANKS, for GOD HIMSELF IS NEAR . . . so what is left for John? What is left for US? John could rest easy, he’s been living pretty close to Isaiah’s expectations of the First Reading – “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted” - - - this sounds darn close to John’s preaching! But all he says in response are five VERY important words - - - “I am NOT the Christ.” And rightfully so – for these words from the First Reading, would be read by Jesus Himself, and APPLIED TO Jesus Himself, when Jesus HIMSELF will say, “TODAY, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” We are getting more and more hints today WHO this king is, a King who is NOT John, but someone who is coming after him. John consequently knows he has to get out of the way, so that He can SEE the King he’s been preparing for, so that He can one day cry out, “BEHOLD, the LAMB OF GOD!” If he were to fall into pride . . . then pride would blind him, and he would not be able to recognize the King, just like the leaders of the Jews . . .
We must follow his example – we have prayed in silence, we have simplified our lives, we have returned to the Lord with repentant hearts (especially in the Sacrament of Confession), but in these last couple weeks of Advent, we must remember a VERY important virtue, one which conquers the toughest of vices, one which clears the ground for the arrival of TRUE holiness and allows us to SEE it – we must have humility.
In the movie “Rudy,” I enjoyed hearing the Holy Cross priest mention to the young Rudy – “Son, in 35 years of religious study, I’ve come up with two hard, incontrovertible facts: there is a God, and I’m not Him.” Personally, I think we can say MORE than that, aside from the fact that I think he’s wasted 35 years if that’s ALL he can come up with, the two points ARE true! There IS a God, a God who is all-powerful and all-knowing, but also all-merciful and all-loving, so much so that He is coming to us to save us from ourselves . . . There IS a God . . . and, we are NOT Him . . . we humbly admit that, we step out of the way so the WE TOO can see the light on the horizon, the King is drawing near, Brothers and Sisters, look east and see your Salvation is at hand, so REJOICE, BE JOYFUL! Be ready to joyfully and humbly welcome your King, in HUMILITY you will SEE Him and be TRULY joyful! Achievements, popularity, even success itself, none of this will give us TRUE joy, we can’t even give it to ourselves, we can’t SAVE ourselves - - - but He can! And He will . . . because our imminently arriving King, as we’ll learn next week, is ALSO humble. Rejoice! Rejoice! For our King Emmanuel, shall come to ransom US as well.