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Homilies by Father Jaimon Dominic » Notes » Third Sunday in Advent 2019

  • Third Sunday in Advent 2019

    Posted by Mary Wilson December 14, 2019 - 295 views - 0 comments - 0 likes - #Joy  #king  #Gaudete Sunday 
    HOMILY BY FR. DOMINIC ON MATHEW 11:2-11 A few years ago in Reader's Digest a lady named Barbara Bartocci reported searching for the perfect birthday card for her husband. She came across a promising one. On the outside it read: "Sweetheart, you're the answer to my prayers." Then she turned to the inside, which was inscribed, "You're not what I prayed for exactly, but apparently you are the answer." For thousands of years, the Jewish people had been praying for a Messiah, a deliverer who would conquer their enemies and establish a kingdom of righteousness and might. Their deliverer would be powerful, a warrior and a king, and through his power the Jews would again reign in peace and prosperity. Then along comes Jesus, a poor carpenter with questionable friends. He claims to be the long-awaited Messiah who has come to set up a very different kind of kingdom. And so we can forgive even Jesus’ strongest supporters for asking, “You’re the answer to our prayers? Really?” Does John the Baptist in today’s gospel find himself in a similar situation? John has spent all his life in the Judean desert in anticipation of the Messiah who was to come. He has prepared the way for the Messiah by calling the people to a baptism of repentance. Now he is languishing in prison because he denounced the sins of Herod Antipas. In the meantime Jesus begins his public work as the Messiah. He doesn’t go to visit John in prison or send him a word of encouragement. John hears that he is performing miracles. Why doesn’t he use his miraculous powers to set John free and vindicate him? Doesn’t prophecy say that one of the signs of the Messiah is that he will set prisoners free? Naturally John would expect to be one of the first beneficiaries. After all it was he who baptized Jesus in the first place. Some reciprocal benevolence would certainly be in order. So John sends messengers to Jesus to remind him. Jesus’ message back to John was, “Yes I am indeed the Messiah. But please do not take offence at me if all your expectations are not met.” Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me”. It’s interesting to note that Jesus never directly answered John’s question: “Are you the expected One or shall we look for someone else?” He never gave a straight “yes” or “no.” Jesus could have pointed to hundreds of Biblical prophecies that his life had fulfilled. He could have performed some dazzling miracle that would have instantly silenced all of John’s doubts. Instead, Jesus announced, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Why did Jesus choose these particular things to prove his Lordship? What does this tell us about his priorities? These miracles all seem to involve restoration and compassion. Just as they are today, the deaf, the blind, and the lame were kept outside the mainstream of society. They were often forced to beg to support themselves. Others viewed their disability as a punishment from God. Lepers were outcasts, unclean, cut off from all social or religious acceptance. Jesus didn’t just hear these people – he restored their place in society. These answers demonstrate Jesus’ compassion for the least and the lowest. They remind us that Jesus came for the hurting, helpless, overlooked people of society. That’s always a good thing to remember at this time of the year when our greed and materialism are given free rein. From the nature of Christ’s mission flows the nature of our Christian religion. Don’t confuse our society’s celebration of Christmas with the character of Jesus. The two are as different as day and night. Lieutenant Gerald Coffee spent seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. During his second Christmas in that rotten hellhole of a camp he made an amazing discovery. He had been stripped of everything by which he measured his identity: rank, uniform, family, money. And yet, alone in a cramped three by seven foot cell, he began to understand the meaning of Christmas. Removed from all commercial distractions, he was able to focus on the simplicity of Christ’s birth. Although he was lonely and afraid, he realized that this Christmas could be his most meaningful, because now, more than ever before, he understood the event. We can assume that John the Baptist discovered the same thing. As he sat in his prison cell, stripped of all the things we think are necessary for life, he discovered the one most important thing: hope. John glimpsed the hope that the Messiah had come to set up an eternal kingdom, a kingdom of justice and mercy, compassion and healing. A kingdom that was for all people. No, it wasn’t exactly what the people were praying for. It was so much more than that. During this Christmas season, may we all discover the same hope.