Theme: ALL FLESH SHALL RECEIVE THE SALVATION OF OUR LORD!
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday December 5 2021
(BARUCH 5:1-9, PHILIPPIANS 1:4-6,8-11, LUKE 3:1-6)
Life is full of waiting, I have grown accustomed to waiting, which is not to say that I gladly welcome it in any sense. When I used to take my dad to his doctor’s appointment, or drop off my car at a car workshop, I expect that it will take time. I am prepared; I read, play smart games especially Spanish on my phone, or answer texts and emails. Also waiting in the bank or even waiting for a package from the courier. I am happily expectant when the delivery has an estimated arrival time. I am irritated as the time slowly creeps over and later. I am always anxious when waiting for a test result. Sometimes I am frustrated when traffic is slow. I am delighted and energized as I anticipate a home trip or an outing with close friends. Each of these instances reveals something about waiting. In those instances of waiting that involve uncertainty and challenge, I look for consolation in any available company.
Advent is an opportunity to step back from that which preoccupies and distracts us daily and make a straight way for the Lord to receive the special grace God has planned for us. The most important people in our world are not those who are in positions of power but those who have powerful positions in our personal lives. This week and next, our Gospel readings invite us to consider John the Baptist and his relationship with Jesus. John the Baptist appears in the tradition of the great prophets, preaching repentance and reform to the people of Israel. To affirm this, Luke quotes at length from the prophet Isaiah.
The three Synoptic Gospels; Matthew, Mark, and Luke—attest to the importance of the presence of John in preparing for Jesus. Only the Gospel of Luke, however, extends the connection between these two men to their birth. Luke identifies three epochs of salvation history: the time before Christ, the time of Christ, and the time of the Church and of course the Holy Spirit (Acts of the Apostles). In today’s Gospel reading, as elsewhere, John the Baptist is presented as the figure who bridges the time before Christ and prepares the way for Christ’s own ministry. In today’s Gospel we also note Luke’s attention to political and historical details. Luke shows that salvation is for all people and is situated in world events. Salvation is understood as God’s breaking into this political and social history of man. Our salvific history is not a concatenated or fictitious idea of a mere sage. It is rather a historical fact.
John’s preaching of the coming of the Lord is a key theme of the Advent season. He cries in the desert instead of the temple, but this is physically a place one can listen to God in silence and solitude. There is something about desert that connects with spirituality. John had something that attracted the people to the desert and that is one thing new and surprising in this prophet. And so, his message was “Repent.” But it wasn’t repent the way we think about it. He was talking about something quite different. He was talking about the word “repentance” meaning metanoia. Metanoia is the word that is used when we say, “Come back to the Lord.” And what it really means is to turn your life around. Stop walking all over the place in those silly little pasts, full of hopelessness. The Messiah is here.
Beloved friends, the message of John this Sunday underscores the importance of this season. It is a time of not just for material preparation. Rather, it is a time of retreat, the image of the desert, a time of deep reflection on the mystery that God is about to reveal to the world. It is a time of cleaning up and leveling the rough edges of our lives with the hope of receiving our Lord in a wonderful state of mind and body.
Have a blessed week!
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara