Fr. Bob’s 3rd Sunday of Advent homily…
3rd Sunday of Advent C
When a prophet is around, you should ask them questions. They have a way of looking into the future. Not in a “are the Giants going to cover the spread?” kind of future, but they have such an intimate knowledge of God, they can see where things are going. They have the ability to note God’s presence, and perhaps more importantly, where God is lacking. So if you are blessed enough to be around a prophet, ask the most important question, “What should we do?”
It is asked by those who stream to the Judean desert to ask John for baptism. He tells them, “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” To tax collectors, Jews collecting for the Roman Empire and notorious for their greed, he demands, “Stop collecting more than what…
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Both writers differ in their details, but their central religious message
about the meaning of Jesus is often remarkably similar.
The Birth of Jesus, according to the Gospel of Luke 2:1-20+
Jesus is born as one of the poor: Good News! Emmanuel: God-is-with-us!
Luke’s story emphasizes that:
- God is utterly faithful.
- God upsets human expectations.
- God is found in the most ‘unlikely’ places: in humble, faithful servants, in the needy and oppressed, in the poor and ignored, in the rough and ‘uncultured.’
- God delights not in suffering, but in life
- God cares for and honors the poor.
- The ordinary can be filled with God’s glory and power.
- As followers of Christ we should value cooperation, mutual support, faith-sharing, rather than competitive status and power-seeking.
- We are called to prayerful contemplation of the mystery of God’s loveand to humble service.
The people in Luke’s story:
Zechariah Elizabeth John Mary Joseph Angels Shepherds Simeon Anna
How do these people further the meaning to Luke’s story? What else do you find in this story?
From Celebration Dec. 2004:
On keeping Christmas all year long: believe and live as if love is the strongest thing in the world – stronger than hate, stronger than fear, stronger than death. “God-with-us” – God’s power and love is forever involved with all that is human.
Karl Rahner says that “when we say that God is the Lord and goal of humankind, that without God there is no meaning to our lives, that God is our helper and savior” . . . then we shall know what it means that God-is-with-us.
The Birth of Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew 1:18-16+
Jesus is a Light to the Nations.
Matthew’s story emphasizes that Jesus is:
- sent by God and fulfills the Jewish OT prophecies.
- rejected by the powerful, the greedy.
- welcomed by the humble, the just, the wise.
- recognized by people from all nations.
The people in Matthew’s story:
Joseph Mary Angel
3 seekers from the East King Herod
Chief priests and teachers or scribes of the Law
What meaning do you find in their reactions to Jesus? What meaning do you find in these symbols?
The Star Frankincense Myrrh Gold
*How do both stories ‘prefigure’ the story of Jesus’ life and death?
What similar meanings do we find in both stories?
What differences do you notice?
An unknown poet wrote:
“When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flock, the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among brothers, to make music in the heart.”
*from “Birth of Jesus” The Catholic Vision, by Mark Link
Fr. Bob’s 2nd Sunday of Advent homily…
2nd Sunday of Advent C
Prepare the way of the Lord. Nothing sums up Advent more than those words. As John the Baptist prepared the way for the coming of Christ, we too are called to prepare the way for Christ coming into our lives. But for John and for us, it is not as easy as we would think. Evidently, there are obstacles in the way – the high mountains and deep valleys, the winding roads and the rough ways.
Why is it hard for the Lord to come to us? I have a theory. It is not God’s fault. Actually, not being God’s fault is a theological foundation for me. The whole history of God proves it. God created the world that we might be in relationship with the divine. God gave us beautiful things so that God might be known. And in an ultimate way, perfectly, God…
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Fr. Bob’s 1st Sunday of Advent homily…
1st Sunday of Advent C
Ominous signs will appear. The sun and the moon and the stars will change. Waves will rise and the seas will roar. Nations will be in upheaval. It will be so bad that the fright of all this actually kills people. Then the Son of Man will come riding in a cloud into this turmoil. But it is different for the Christian. While everyone else is falling apart, the believer, unafraid, will stand erect and lift their heads. Their redemption is now at hand.
Why is it different for the believer? It is different because we have a relationship with the one who is to come. He is our savior, our hope and our friend. It is different because this is not what we fear, but what we pray for – “Thy kingdom come.” We are not afraid because we possess something utterly unassailable…
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The 1st Reading – Baruch 5: 1-9
This short, prophetic book was claimed to be from the hand of the famous secretary of Jeremiah, but theologians think it was more likely written later (between third and first century BC) as a work of encouragement to those Jews being forced to adopt Greek ways (Reading the Old Testament, Boadt, 502-503).
A mitre, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is a headdress worn by archbishops, bishops and abbots. It is also a joint between 2 pieces of wood to form a corner. A cornerstone, in particular, is a stone at the base that binds 2 walls. The cornerstone must be strong and secure for the integrity of the building. God is in your corner! Do you wear God like a mitre, to advance secure in God’s glory?
The Greek word for justice more closely means doing what is right. If we try to do what is right, we will display God’s glory and splendor. What does that mean to you? Think deeply about that question. Doing what we feel is right within us is what is right with God. This is what brings joy and mercy into the world. What wonderful thoughts to have this Advent!
The 2nd Reading — The Letter to the Philippians 1: 4-6, 8-11
Paul had established this church in about 50AD (the first Christian church on European soil). It was one of Paul’s favorite churches. Paul was in prison (probably in Rome) when Epaphroditus, an old friend from Philippi, arrived bearing more gifts from this church. Unfortunately, Epaphroditus became very sick. Later, he recovered and Paul was anxious for him to return home so that those who are worried about him will be relieved. Paul sent this letter with him. Despite the hardship and imprisonment, Paul’s letter is full of thanksgiving and joy, a very personal letter filled with strong emotions. (Serendipity, p. 375)
This is a love letter. Paul’s love for the people of Philippi is bursting in his words, and he wants that love he has for them to have an effect. Love is powerful! It moves people. It changes us. It makes us want goodness. And since God is love, of course it makes sense that love transcends and transforms all that is. When has someone’s love transformed you? When has it opened your eyes to something? How does love make a difference? The second candle in the Advent wreath stands for love! May its light inspire you along with Paul’s words!
The Gospel – Luke 3: 1-6
Have you ever celebrated the sacrament of reconciliation privately? Most people admit that they are nervous on arrival but relieved afterwards…like a weight has been lifted. There is a freedom in knowing that God comes to us where we are. God takes us “AS IS”. Sometimes you may see items on sale “AS IS” and that usually means they are damaged goods or less than adequate. God makes us ready for to be full price again! And God’s love is the same no matter what condition we are in. We are beloved, which is what John the Baptist proclaimed LOUDLY!
From Living Liturgy, 2004: Salvation – the fullness of life that our God wishes to offer us – is revealed – or shows forth – in our repentance. To repent means to change one’s mind – one’s life. Our work of repentance is about turning ourselves toward God who wishes to embrace us in mercy, forgiveness, and love. Sometimes, mountains of work, or paths of indecision, or valleys of doubt and fear keep us from the Lord’s embrace – the Way of the Lord. It is a reading that seems more like a civil engineer’s road plans. But it is only this God who can give sure direction to our lives. Let God re-engineer our lives. This Advent may we take the time to rest in the security of God’s nearness. (p.6). Then our ‘tense hearts’ can be eased opened to receive Jesus, the true Good News.
Luke takes great care to situate the ministry of John the Baptist and thus Jesus in the midst of human history. He mentions both secular leaders (Tiberius, Pilate, Herod etc.) and religious authorities (Annas and Caiphas). It is sort of like a “chronological drumroll.” He also chooses to include all of Isaiah’s directives (Isaiah 40:3-5) leading to the universal cry of “and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (God’s universal and pastoral care for all peoples is a major theme of Luke’s gospel and his Acts of the Apostles.) When we dare to try to put someone or some group outside of God’s saving concern, we should remember this theme. This Good News of Jesus Christ is intended to disrupt and disturb us until it enlarges our hearts, enlightens our minds, and unclenches our fists to welcome the truth of God’s love for all human flesh. (Celebration, Dec.10, 2000)
God breaks into human history through the birth of Jesus. By the incarnation of the Word, God enters human life, history, the world. But the Incarnation also makes it possible for us to enter the very life of God. Through the Incarnation, God became part of our eating and drinking, our sickness, our joy, our delight, our passion, our dying, our death. But all this is for the purpose of drawing us out of ourselves, away from our own self-preoccupation, self-absorbtion, self-fixation, so as to participate in the divine life (Altogether Gift, Michael Downey, p. 79).