Homily Third Sunday of Advent Year A God comes to save

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Homily: Third Sunday of Advent Year A

Reading 1: To understand Isaiah we have to put ourselves back in his time. The people of Israel have been conquered by their enemies, because they did not live up to their covenant with God. They had forsaken the God of their ancestors. They are in exile from their homeland. In the midst of this desolate reality Isaiah gives them a message of hope. God will come to save them. Like the desert after a spring rain blossoms with flowers, so God will restore them. They will see the glory of God, his divine power.

What shall be signs of confirmation that God is saving his people? The blind will see, the deaf hear, the crippled restored. And the people in exile will return to Jerusalem singing for joy.

What was prophesied by Isaiah became a reality when the people were restored to Jerusalem. In time what was desolated and destroyed was restored to a greater glory. God once more saved his people.

But we know this prophetic word, though initially fulfilled by the return from exile, its complete fulfillment took place by the coming of Jesus. God became man to save his people from the eternal exile of separation from him. The signs and wonders spoken of by Isaiah performed by Jesus was the clear sign of who he was. Recognizing this should give us great joy, resulting in thanksgiving to God for fulfilling his promises.

Gospel: There are two parts. The first is addressed to John and his disciples; the second is addressed to the crowd about the significance of John and his ministry.

John may have presumed that Jesus would continue the Baptist’s ministry, primarily preaching a message of repentance and confronting the moral wrongs of the day. Jesus does preach repentance and calls for reform of one’s life. But he goes beyond. His is a ministry of love and mercy, compassion and service towards those afflicted either by natural causes or spiritual bondage.

Jesus identifies his mission as the one we heard in the first reading from Isaiah. He has come to save and restore. No, John, you are not wrong in recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. You were wrong in your expectations of him.

To the crowds Jesus affirms the ministry of John as a prophet, not just any prophet, but the prophet who would come in the spirit of Elijah. His mission was to prepare the way of the Lord and point him out when he came. Not only is he a prophet, but because of his role, his significance is unique.

Birth by nature is special; but birth by grace into the kingdom of God is greater. John is called to recognize the true identity and ministry of Jesus; the people were called to recognize and honor the unique role John played in the history of salvation. We are called to realize what God has done for us and respond with gratitude and in a way of life commensurate with the grace of salvation.

Reading 2: Last Sunday we heard that the Scriptures were given to us to teach us patience and encouragement. The promise of God will be fulfilled. Today, again we are called to wait with patience for the coming of the Lord in glory. As the farmer, who plants the seed waits with patience for it to bear fruit, so must we.

Last week we were told to live in one accord with one another, so that with one voice we may glorify God. Today, we are told do not grumble against one another. Do not focus on the fault of others. Do not stand in judgment towards others. Like Jesus we are to endure our sufferings at the hands of other by fixing our eyes on the coming as the Lord. It takes a bigger person to bless and not to curse; to rejoice and not to retaliate.

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