18. December, 2016Church News, Feature, Ladyewell News Comments Off

HOMILY FOR 3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

Today is liturgically described as “Gaudete Sunday “. That is why our priests are vested in pink or rose regalia. “Gaudete” is a Latin word for “rejoice “. The church calls her children to rejoice for their salvation is near at hand. She presents to her children the glimpse of hope in the redemptive work of the Messiah among us. It does not matter the circumstances one finds himself or herself. The call remains that of Joy. St Paul made this acclamation superbly in his letter to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say Rejoice “(Phi 4:4).

 

The questions that often come to mind are: “How can I really rejoice in the midst of the unprecedented persecutions unleashed against Christians in the Middle East and some parts of Africa? ” “How possible is the manifestation of blissful joy in the presence of hunger, political suppression, poverty and high rate of fatal diseases such as Cancer?” “Are we really called to rejoice while the threats against Christian marriage and family life abound?” “Does the church really mean this clarion call or is it for formalities, and just on the level of quixotism without practical application? ” All these aghast socioeconomic and politico- religious circumstances that bedevil our world of today question the idea of “Gaudete.”

 

Like John the Baptist in the gospel we all have the tendency to ask the Lord; ” are you the one who is to come, or have we got to wait for someone else?” John the Baptist as we all know is the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He identified or pin pointed Jesus as the Messiah from his mother’s womb. He baptised Jesus and humbly proclaimed him the Messiah with a noble assertion that has become a liturgically icon expression throughout the history of the church;” behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world “(John 1:29). He even refused to be identified as Christ. He humbly declared “I am not the Christ… He who comes after me, the thong of whose scandal I am not worthy to untie “(John 1:20,27).

 

St Augustine masterfully analysed the disposition of this effervescent Baptist thus; ” Take an example of humility from John himself. He is thought to be the Christ, but he says he is not what people think. He does not use the mistake of others to feed his own pride” (Sermon 293,3). He was not the WORD.  He was rather the voice that spoke and inculcated and stamped the WORD in the consciousness and existence of the people of his time. That was an indispensable preliminary of the preparation for the coming of Christ, “the Word made flesh”(John 1:14). John has his own limitations. He is not perfect. Some exegete like William Barclay can hardly describe him as a holy man.

 

This calls my attention to the abyss stretch between being spiritual and being perfect; as well as being holy and pious or ascetical. One can be so ascetical with great ability to buffet his body and bring it into control while sticking rigidly to his prayer programmes without excelling in Love, which is the underlining identity of Christian life. When one’s spiritual life does not make for advancement in charity and disposition for the will of God, there will always be the tendency to misunderstand God. This is ocular in the life of John as he didn’t understand the mission of Christ as that of Love and Cross. Barclay writes “he knew the holiness of God, he declared the justice of God but never learnt the cross of Christ and least in the kingdom of God is more than him”. He preached a very scathing message against the Pharisees and predicted a Christ who will punish sinners and reward the righteous. (c.f. Matt 3:10-12).

 

SIMPLE LESSONS

Christian life is identified in the life of the cross; one cannot experience the power of grace without experiencing the power of Christ; neither can one experience the power of Christ without the experience of the cross. As Christians, we ought to avoid showcasing a life of dichotomy between spirituality and cross, piety and love. Every follower of Christ should realise that the Christian way is that of the cross and be disposed without doubt for a seemingly disappointment from God. His ways are not ours and his thoughts are different from ours.