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3rd Sunday of Advent, Year A – Homily

3rd Sunday in Advent, Year A
Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10
Psalm 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10
James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-13
December 11, 2016

“Be patient.”

These are the words of James offers to the recipients of his letter.  What are they to be patient in waiting for?  “The Coming of the Lord.”

The Letter of James is writing sometime in the 1st century following the death of Jesus.  Some of the people reading his letter would have been alive when Jesus lived on Earth as a human being.  Some of them may have even seen Jesus face to face.

With Jesus First Coming still fresh in their minds, they are already waiting in anticipation of his Second Coming.   Yet they have to wait.  Turns out they were not being very patient in their waiting.  Some even fear they missed it for they were sure it would happen very soon.

How good are we at being patient?  I know I like to have things done now so I am not good at waiting.  No matter what we do, sometimes we just have to wait.

Here James uses the example of a farmer.  In the spring, farmers plow their fields and plant seeds.  They can make sure the plants are watered and fertilized but no matter what they do, at some point you have to wait.  No matter what we do, it takes time for the plants to grow so the farmer must wait.

Today, often we want everything now.  Our responsorial verse today is “Lord, come and save us.”  If this was written today one would probably add the word “now”.  Come and save us now.

We might not like to wait but somethings are worth waiting for.  Our first readings for Advent come from Isaiah and many of them involve prophecies of what the Messiah would be like.  Today’s reading says the Lord will come with vindication, meaning He will make things right.  He will open the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf should be cleared, and the lame with leap.

Jesus came and fulfilled all this but He didn’t come immediately.  The Jews had to wait several centuries for Jesus to come.  While there were many prophecies about what the Messiah would be like, they did not know when He would come.

Even John the Baptist wasn’t sure exactly when Jesus would come.  Even when Jesus came, John could only hear about him from prison and he wasn’t sure if Jesus was the one so he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He was “the one who is to come.”

What was Jesus’ response?  It was not yes or no.  He told them to tell John what they have heard and see.  That the “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk….”  Jesus does this to reveal to us who He is.  He fulfills the prophecies.

We are now in the third week of our new liturgical year.  This year we hear predominantly from Matthew’s Gospel on Sundays.  For Matthew, it was very important to make sure that the readers of his gospel understand that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies because this might He is the Messiah they have been waiting for.

It is also important for us to see how Jesus fulfills the messianic prophecies because we have to wait for his coming.  Hearing that these prophecies are fulfilled can give us confidence to be willing to wait.

Yet, many people have given up on waiting and lost the faith.  It seems like, no, it doesn’t seem like, it is a fact that fewer and fewer people are coming to church.  Some of them have rejected the very notion that there is a god.  Some say they believe but they don’t need to come to church.  Some just do what I did for years, just fade away.

I don’t know about you but I know I need to come.  I need to hear reassurances that God loves me.  I need to hear the stories of how even when people suffered, God was with them.

In two weeks we will celebrate Christmas.  I’m sure there are some here today who can’t wait for it to get here.  Many, many people will celebrate Christmas.  I wonder how many of them have no idea what Christmas is about.  I even wonder among believers how many will talk about the real meaning of Christmas.

I mentioned before some of the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled.  There is one more I want to mention that He includes in what He says to John’s disciples, “and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”

Jesus came and proclaimed the good news to the people.  Today we need to share the good news.  We need to talk about our faith.  I’m sure some of you are thinking, “I don’t know how to talk about our faith.”  I understand but I offer a response in two parts.  First, we need to put some effort into learning more about our faith.  Secondly, we learn by doing.  We can learn how to talk about our faith by doing it.  It all begins by you sharing with others what Christmas means to you.

I know you may have family or friends who will tell you they don’t want to hear about it.  Now, the goal is not to force faith upon them but here are some simple places to start.

  • When making your Christmas plans, make sure they know you want to get to church for Christmas Mass.
  • Offer to say grace before the meal and mention in the prayer that you are glad we can celebrate Jesus’ birth.
  • Invite your family and friends to church

On a related note, when you come for Christmas Mass and you see someone here that hasn’t been here in a long time, welcome them here.  If you see a stranger, tell them you are glad they are here.  Tell them that Jesus loves them.

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