Homily (Reflection) for the Third Sunday of Advent, (A) (11th December, 2016) on the Gospel
Is 35:1-6.10;Ps 145:6-10. (R. cf. Is 35:4)
This Sunday, Third Sunday of Advent, is also known as Guadete or Rejoice Sunday as we explained on the First Sunday of Advent. Rose or Pink vestments can be used today instead of Violet or Purple.
Topic: Unless we make others rejoice.
In the gospel according to Saint Matthew when the people were questioning in their hearts whether John was the Messiah he answered them: “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11; cf. Mk 1:7-8; Lk 3:16-17; Jn 1:20, 26). Again in the gospel according to Saint John we also read:
The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming towards him and declared, ‘Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me’…. And I myself have seen and testified that this is the Son of God’” (Jn 1:29-30, 34).
Saint John the Baptist among all the prophets had the singular privilege of both prophesying for the coming of the Messiah and also showing Him to the world. He is both the last prophet of the Old Testament and also one who ushered in the New Testament.
In today’s gospel, this same John the Baptist sent words through his disciples to Jesus asking: “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Although it is not explicit why John sent his disciples to Jesus but among many possible reasons, three stand out: first, it could be out of curiosity. Secondly, maybe he wanted to sing with the Blessed Simeon out of joy, cf. Lk 2:28-32. Or lastly, was contemplating whether the Messiah could allow his faithful servant languish in prison for His Word. Considering these three possible reasons, I settle for the third one because although it is possible for one in prison to ask out of curiosity or to sing for joy but his or her freedom ought to be uppermost. One can feel the pains John the Baptist was going through in the prison and probably expecting the one for whom he was in prison to come to his rescue.
As we celebrate the Rejoice Sunday, we all are called to rejoice because our Saviour is nearer. But how can this be possible considering the condition of many even those who are in the Church with us today? Or can we celebrate the Guadete or Rejoice Sunday without everyone actually rejoicing? This will certainly be a contradiction. Again, it is important to remember the Igbo adage, amụ ofu onye na-ere eze ure, literally meaning that one man’s laughter causes tooth decay. Although for some this call to rejoice is all about spiritual joy but while meditating on the words Jesus gave the messengers to take to John I ask myself: What will the scenario be like when “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news preached to them”? I think that there will be rejoicing without bound just as Saint Paul charges us to rejoice always in the Lord, cf. Phil 4:4.
There is no gain saying that even during the time of Jesus not all the blind received their sight, not all the lame walked, not all the lepers were cleansed, not all those who were deaf heard, not all the dead were raised and also not all the poor heard the good news preached. If these could not be achieved during the time of Jesus how possible is it in our days because the call to rejoice is made to all? Or do we hope to achieve it believing the words of Jesus himself: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father” (Jn 14:12)? Apart from looking for extraordinary ways of bringing joy to others, we can do this through ordinary means. Let us take the lame for example. The ability to walk about helps one get what he or she wants and avoid what is harmful or undesirable. If the lame can get what he or she wants and avoid what is undesired, the inability to walk will not cause much sadness. This is also true for every situation. In the same vein, there are many things we can do today to make others rejoice. You can be a miracle worker that can bring joy to others today. The primary thing God expects from us and for which we will be admitted into the kingdom of heaven or thrown out is charity, cf. 1Cor 13:2, Matt 25:31-46. God expects us to bring joy even to our enemies, Prov 25:21, Matt 5:43-48.
It is an incontestable fact that there are people like the blind man in the common story who feels that people around him cheat him. As a result, he never stopped complaining. At a point, his kinsmen decided to make him stop complaining at least for once. They bought a goat and prepared it for him alone. When they presented it to him, he felt the meat and asked them to give him his own share. They told him that all was his. He laughed scornfully and said ‘if as much as this is brought to a blind man then those who can see must have gone home with elephants or something much more than that’. On hearing this, his kinsmen shook their heads and left. They concluded that his problem was beyond their power.
It is our duty to make others rejoice. You can do this even without any material gift like visiting a John the Baptist in the prison of sickness or other forms of prison. If a great man like John the Baptist could inquire whether God is still God, what about others we have forgotten for so long? In conclusion, unless you and I make someone rejoice here on earth, we will not rejoice in the kingdom of God.
Bible Reading: Prov 25:21-22; Jn 1:29-34; Matt 25:31-46; Jas 2:14-17; 1Thess 5:12-25; Phil 4:4-7; Matt 5:43-48.
Thought for today: Do you make others rejoice?
Let us pray: Lord, may I desire today and all the days of my life to make others rejoice – Amen.
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
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