Third Sunday of Advent
A Homily - Cycle C - 2012-2013
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Zephaniah 3:14-18a
Responsorial Psalm - Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6
Second Reading - Philippians 4:4-7
Gospel - Luke 3:10-18
Written by Luke to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
The crowds asked John the Baptist, "What should we do?" He said to them in reply, "Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise." Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He answered them, "Stop collecting more than what is prescribed." Soldiers also asked him, "And what is it that we should do?" He told them, "Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages."
Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, "I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier that I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Exhorting them in many other ways, he preached good news to the people.
Did you ever think about how important it is to have . . . a Hero? We’ve all had heroes growing up. Sports players, movie characters . . . I really thought that Michael Jordan was an amazing hero when it came to basketball. I was just starting to play basketball in the sixth grade, and here was a guy that was doing it as a professional. I would practice a couple hours a week, he would practice for countless hours every day! I could make a “swish” free-throw if I stood on one foot, closed one eye and prayed real hard . . . Michael could make a free-throw with both eyes closed . . . yeah, he was my basketball hero!
I also had heroes who were priests! I had a real-life hero back home in my parish of Chantilly. And he was a priest. He was my pastor, Fr. Cornelius O’Brien. An imposing figure from Ireland, who needed no introduction when he entered a room. If he liked prayer, I wanted to like prayer too. If he treasured his homeland of Ireland, then I wanted to go there too. If he wanted to lead souls to Heaven, then my goodness, that’s what *I* wanted as well! We’ve all had heroes . . . some, like Michael Jordan, I knew I would never become . . . Others, like Fr. O’Brien, were DIFFERENT. I looked up at Fr. O’Brien, and thought to myself, “I want to be like that! “I CAN be like that!” He would peach with big inflections in his voice . . . He would slowly and calmly more around the altar at Mass . . . He would receive Holy Communion and then hold his hands to his mouth in reverence . . . He would love to chat with children during homilies . . . frankly I didn’t realize how much Fr. O’Brien WAS a hero for me, until Fr. Donahue (who had Fr. O’Brien for a spiritual director!) once told me, you know, Luke, you are a lot like Fr. O’Brien! WOW . . . I BECAME like the one I looked up to! That was cool . . . and it was certainly POSSIBLE, because it was my VOCATION. I was called to DO what a priest does . . . and I learned a lot from Fr. “O’Brien, just as Fr. Donahue himself did!
Well, all the people of Israel are getting excited about the coming of their OWN hero, and so they are asking John the Baptist, “What are WE to do?” and what does he say? “Give and Share what you have. Be fair in your dealings with others. Give thanks for what you have.” Why did he give THESE Instructions? He gave them for good reason . . . Because he was showing us what this HERO was like . . . and he was showing us how WE could imitate Him. The first week we learned, while Heaven and Earth pass away, this Hero’s WORD will never pass. We can LISTEN to this Word in Prayer.
The second week, we learned that we must prepare the Way for our Hero by turning back to Him, especially through the powerful sacrament of Confession. We encounter His amazing Story in the Word, and become a part of the Story through the Sacraments . . . And now, this third week, we are shown how we can LIVE the story, how we can imitate His heroic example. Others may try to imitate other models, but instead of justice, generosity and gratitude, it results in injustice, selfishness and pain. We know this all too well in our world, especially with what happened in Connecticut. The world needs a hero, and praise God it has one, and one that we can truly imitate! A young boy proudly imitates the way His Dad shaves in the morning, a young altar server imitates his parish priest by playing Mass with potato chips, young fans of Michael Jordan wears the number 23 on their jerseys, and eternally young disciples follow their Lord by giving thanks, being fair, sharing in generosity, and always following His every Word. It has already shown in wondrous ways – our young adults visited the homes of the elderly yesterday morning, and the teenagers will be visiting the homebound tonight to sing them Christmas carols! What joyful love! What joyful service! Why are we so joyful at this time of Advent? Why is JOY written all over the readings today? Why is the priest wearing such a . . . mmm . . . “joyful” color? Because we have a hero coming our way . . . a hero whom we, EVERY ONE OF US, can imitate . . . and in so doing, we will BECOME like the one who look up to, for with JESUS, WE are meant to be HEROES as well!