From the Pulpit
Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent (C) (6th December, 2015) on the Gospel

Baruch 5:1-9;
Ps 125 (R.V. 3);
Phil 1:3-6.8-11;
Lk 3:1-6.

Father Sagayanathan writes about Rabbi Eleazar who declared: “Repent one day before your death.” And his disciples who heard him asked: “How does one know which day that it is?” “Exactly,” answered the sage, for that reason we ought to live every day as though it were our last.[1]

Topic: Forgiveness of sins.
Last Sunday, we reflected on preparing for Christ in threefold because He was, He is and He is to come. In today’s gospel, Saint John the Baptist went into all the region around the Jordan and proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, cf. Lk 3:3.

We know that for some, it is useless reflecting on the forgiveness of sins because they stopped sinning when they become born-again. And for some, although one can sin but why confess to fellow human beings (priests)? There are other obstacles but in this homily our focus is on why confessing to priests. The issue of being sinners or not among others will be subjects of another day. It is important we know before going further that these problems can be found even in the Catholic Church. So let no one think either we talk to them or about them. We talk to ourselves and about ourselves.

We should remember that when a paralyzed man was brought to Jesus and He said to him: “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mk 2:5; cf. Lk 5:20) the scribes termed the statement blasphemous because it is God alone who can forgive sins, cf. Mk 2:6-7. And they are correct in saying that it is God alone who can forgive sins, cf. Ps 32:5; Is 45:25; Jer 31:34. 33:8; Mic 7:19. In line with this, the Psalmist prayed to God for the forgiveness of sins, cf. Ps 79:9. And Christ Himself taught us to pray to God for the forgiveness of our sins, cf. Lk 11:4; Matt 6:12. But the scribes missed a very important point – ‘who is Jesus Christ?’ Jesus tells us who He is: “I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30; cf. Jn 1:1; 1Jn 4:10). So Jesus forgives sins because He is God but the scribes among others did not know this fact.

On the other hand, we read that when Christ appeared to his disciples He breathed on them and said to them: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn 20:22b-23). And Jesus unequivocally tells us that He sends His priests into the world just as He was sent by the Father, cf. Jn 20:21. And based on these among others we uphold that God forgives sins through His priests. But just as the scribes did not understand who Jesus Christ is many do not understand who is a priest, another Christ.

So my dear brothers and sisters as we prepare for Christ, the gospel tells us that Saint John the Baptist’s proclamation is the fulfilment of the prophesy of Isaiah:

The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and rough ways made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Lk 3:4-6; cf. Is 40:3-5).

In preparation for Jesus Christ, we must be watchful as the gospel tells us of both the things we overdid and the things we did not do enough - valley on one side and mountain and hill on the other; crooked ways to be straightened and rough ways smoothened.

The Psalmist rightly writes: “I acknowledged my sin to thee, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; then thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin” (Ps 32:5). And in his first letter Saint John writes: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jn 1:9).

My dear brothers and sisters, what are you waiting for? Remember that by Christ’s wounds we are healed, cf. 1Pt 2:24. The letter to the Hebrews tells us to: “... exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13). So let us acknowledge our sins, mend our ways and confess our sins so that He who is faithful will forgive us. We ought to live every day as though it were our last as the sage declared in our introductory story. Confess to God through His instruments (priests) and you shall be healed.

Bible Readings: Heb 3:6-19; Jn 20:19-23; 1Pt 4:1-11.

Thought for today: Are you ready to confess your sins?

Let us pray: Lord, help us to be always ready for you – Amen.

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[1] Sagayanathan, A. (2009). Launching Pad: Stories for Sunday Homilies, year A,B,&C. Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, p. 233.

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