Sunday, December 15, 2019

Homily for Today

Taken from A Catholic Moment,

The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday- “Rejoice.” Before its liturgical reform, Advent was celebrated with a rigorous 40 days of preparation with fasting like Lent. Although this practice was dropped, its penitential character still remains as it is a time for deep spiritual preparation for the coming of the Lord. And as a mid-point break, “Gaudete Sunday” invites all to rejoice for our salvation is close. That is why in the Roman rite, this character of rejoice influences the liturgical colour, Rose instead of Purple. Gaudete Sunday shares the same liturgical character with “Laetare Sunday” of Lenten season.

FIRST READING: Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
In this glorious vision, Isaiah foresaw the nature of the future of the people. Probably at this time the northern kingdom (Israel with Samaria as its capital) was already in Assyrian exile (722 BC), but certainly the southern kingdom (Judah with Jerusalem as its capital) was still enjoying stable peace. But eventually this peace will be interrupted by the Babylonian invasion in (586 BC). So the prophesy is meant to strengthen the people beforehand that though they may have to pass through horrible moments, but time shall come when Yahweh will restore their peace.The wilderness, dry land and desert are used to express how the promise of God will be located within every human lack, every loneliness, and every desolation.
Yes God’s arrival is meant to transform every form of inability into ability and every lack into miraculous abundance. Why all these? First, it means that God who is perfect will not cohabit with imperfection. Secondly, these transformations are meant to celebrate the glory of God. Certainly the lame will regain strength in his legs to walk. He will not just walk, he will jump; for the presence of God should command jubilation. The mute will be able to speak. He will not just speak, but he will shout at the top of his voice. He will become a singer; for the presence of God cannot be lived in silence. It steers joyful praise. On this day, the place that was once a wilderness and dangerous will cease to be. It will turn into access road for the redeemed people of God to go home (35:8-9); for the power of God is so enormous that obstacles and dangers can not withstand it.
This chapter 35 of the book of Isaiah invites each one of us today for our own home-coming. It is God’s plan that we regain our freedom. Isaiah makes us to understand that we cannot celebrate the coming of the Lord in captivity. Hence, any form of “wilderness, dry land and desert” that may have form part of our experience must give way as the Lord comes to us; and he is capable of transforming all our weaknesses into strengths.

SECOND READING: James 5:7-10
Many of us if not all can testify that there are moments we have sought for God’s presence in our lives and situations and he seemed not to be there for us. This often happen when we are in difficult situations needing his intervention. Thus, it is human to feel tired and discouraged when we can’t find reasons to keep the faith alive. This is the Fate of the Christian Community of the Apostle James. They were no longer comfortable with the Lord’s delay as they suffer persecutions. They felt that the whole doctrine of “Parousia” (the Lord who returns soon) was becoming a scam. But the Apostle comforts them with the holy word of “Patience” as an indispensable tool of their Christian faith. And using the analogy of a farmer who waits for a long time before harvest, he assures them that the Lord will surely come no matter how long they think he has delayed. He equally drew their attention to those who have preceded them in faith; how they remain steadfast to the end. This is meant to encourage them that whatever they feel they are passing through had already been experienced by their predecessors.

GOSPEL: Matthew 11: 2-11
Isn’t it beautiful to behold the internal order in the Word of God? Last Sunday John the Baptist gave a witness about the Messiah that will come: “I baptize you with water but he that comes after me whom am not worthy to untie his sandals, he will baptize you will the Holy Spirit and fire.” Today Jesus in turn gave a witness concerning John: “…yes more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written; behold I send my messenger before your face who shall prepare your way before you. Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist yet who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he.”

The Gospel shows that John was in the prison while Jesus was in the open. The imprisonment of John was the result of his opposition to Herod who took his brother’s wife while his brother was still alive. But there is something more to that passage. John needed not to be in the open at the same time with Jesus. It is a fulfillment of his word: “He must increase; I must decrease (Jn 3:30).” Jesus’s public appearance necessarily needs to cause John to hide. And since John’s mission was to witness to Christ, therefore the public manifestation of Jesus should be a reason for his disappearance. It reminds us that God’s presence is safe-evident. It doesn’t require human proof and mediation. John must not continue to witness when the “Witnessed” is around.

For some bible scholars, this question of John does not suggest that John was not convinced of Jesus, rather it is meant to help his disciples to go and discover for themselves the person of Christ. And for others, John seemed to be confused because like every other Jew, the peaceful approach of Jesus shows that he was not the type of Messiah they were expecting. And being in the prison, Jesus should have liberated him from the hand of Herod.
But for me, there is something more to the dilemma of John. It shows that the mystery of God will always transcend total human grasp. The presence of God is awesome but at the same time confusing. It is a presence-absence. God’s revelation is gradual but sure. John couldn’t have had a total knowledge of the identity of Jesus because that would have limited his Divine Nature. This limitation reveals the humanity of John present in all. God remains a mystery for John, for me and for you.

Let the new spring of hope from the prophet Isaiah today be the joy of our heart. When we face tough moments, it is not the end of our story. The God of Israel is our God. He is capable of transforming every wilderness; every dry land; every desert in our lives into fertile land. We must receive this prophesy of Isaiah in the Spirit. Our God is a God of wonders.

We belong to James community. Let us learn to live beyond comparing our lives with others. It can cause crisis that is capable of making us give up on God. But certainly crisis must come, but let us remember that God is always close to us. We must learn to hang on him.

Those who have experienced the marvels of God cannot keep it to themselves. They must go out and share it with John, with Mary, with Ann and with all. Have you experienced Jesus? If yes, please don’t keep keep him in your box. He must be given out. There are “JOHNS” in the prison who have not experienced him. He sends us to them today to tell them that he is capable of taking care of all their needs: the deaf hear, the blind see, the dead live (Mt. 11:5), and what more? Absolutely nothing!

No comments:

Post a Comment