Homily (Reflection) for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, (A) (18th December, 2016) on the Gospel
Is 7:10-14;Ps 23:1-6. (R. cf. vv. 7.10)
Topic: Called to be righteous.
Today is the fourth and the last Sunday of Advent, the season of threefold preparation for the Lord as explained in the homily for the First Sunday of Advent. It is important each person evaluate the success of this season because we are expected to come to its end better than who we were at its inception.
Today’s gospel reading tells us how Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary engaged to Joseph whom the bible describes as a righteous man. Some translators prefer synonyms like good, upright, virtuous, just, pure, pious, religious, saintly and so on to righteous. Considering how Jesus was conceived, what would have happened if Joseph was not a righteous man? In Joseph, we see one who is prepared for the coming of the one Jeremiah prophesied: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jer 23:5, cf. Jer 33:15). Truly, if Joseph was not righteous the story would not have been the same. We must be righteous to be ready for our Saviour.
Being righteous is the outcome of cooperation with God’s grace in line with Jesus’ exhortation, (cf. Matt 5:48). God is righteous, cf. 2Chr 12:6, Ps 116:5, Ps 119:137, Ps 129:4 and “a righteous judge” (Ps 7:11). Only the righteous can enter God’s abode, (cf. Ps 118:20) and see His face, cf. Ps 11:7.
A righteous person walks with God, cf. Gen 6:9. The Psalmist reiterated that “the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (Ps 1:6). Righteous person repays good for evil, (1Sam 24:17) as Jesus commands us to bless those who curse us and to pray for those who abuse us, cf. Lk 6:28. The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom and his tongue speaks justice (Ps 37:30). He or she also gives generously, cf. Ps 37:21. He is a man or woman of faith and lives through faith, cf. Heb 10:38. Hence, the bible tells us: “By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by accepting his gifts; he died, but through his faith he is still speaking” (Heb 11:4). Saint Peter writes: “… the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil." (1Pt 3:12, cf. Ps 34:15, 17,19, Ps 146:8). It is only the righteous who can praise God, cf. Ps 33:1.
As we celebrate the last Sunday of Advent, how many of us can be described as righteous persons just as Joseph? Whoever cannot be described as one still have hope, God is still beckoning on us to confess our sins and pray for one another that we may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects, cf. Jas 5:16. Do not be pulled down by your sins because “there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Eccl 7:20). Hence, in his letter to the Romans, Paul quoted Ps 14:1-3 "None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom 3:10). First Letter of St John reads: “If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jn 1:9). And in the gospel Jesus tells us “Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt 9:13, cf. Lk 19:10, Lk 5:32, Mk 2:17). We can cause great joy in heaven by offering ourselves completely to God because “… there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents …” (Lk 15:7). What are you waiting for? Saint Peter asks us "If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?" (1Pt 4:18)
Saint John has an advice for us because we normally claim to be righteous when we are not: “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous” (1Jn 3:7). This is because “… it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified” (Rom 2:13). It is one who walks according to God’s statutes and observes his ordinances carefully is righteous, cf. Ezek 18:9.
Bible Reading: Gen 18:16-33; Ex 23:1-9; Ps 34; Ps 24; 37; Ezek 3:17-21; Ezek 18:1-32; 1Pt 4:12-19.
Thought for today: Are you righteous or evil before God?
Let us pray: Lord, as we wait for the coming of your Son our Lord, Jesus Christ, may we be righteous in our thoughts, words, and actions – Amen.
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:20)
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