HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR A.
THEME: IS HE THE ONE? IS SHE THE ONE?
BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong
1. Genesis to Revelation. Here is a funny advice for husbands and wives: “Never laugh at your spouse’s choices because you happen to be one of them.” And before the marital choice was made, there were doubts. Is there any married person here, who never pondered the question before commitment: Is he the one; Is she the one? While we are at it, let us continue to pray for and support those currently pondering this question as they seek to become husband and wife, and hopefully parents, as God intended. Yes, from Genesis to Revelation; from Gen. 1:27, where we read: “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them”, to Rev. 19:5-9, where our complete union with our Messiah is presented as the “wedding feast of the Lamb”, we see that relationships between human beings are meant to reflect the relationship between God and human beings. Just as would-be spouses ask: Is he/she the one, John the Baptist asks in today’s Gospel reading: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Interestingly, the ways of answering these questions are also similar.
2. Is he/she the one? Whether it be about relationships between human beings or between God and human beings, we can arrive at answers through signs. Spouses remember being told 10 or 20 or 50 important signs that he or she is the one, eg, he/she supports your dreams; he/she is attentive to your needs, and so on. From Genesis to Revelation, God gives mankind thousands and millions of signs that He is the ultimate One for all of us. Today’s 1st reading (Is 35:1-6a, 10) prophesizes several of those signs that would help people recognize the Messiah, the ultimate One for us all. The signs begin with metaphors: desert and parched land blooming with flowers. The signs include God’s interventions in people’s lives: “then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing”. In today’s Gospel reading (Mt 11:2-11), in response to John the Baptist’s question through his disciples: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?”, our Lord replied: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.” Wow! In Jesus Christ, the promised signs of the Messiah are fulfilled. Carl Frederick Buechner puts the response in contemporary parlance: “You go tell John,” said Jesus, “that former lepers have skin that dermatologists envy, that those once deaf are listening to Mozart, that those formerly blind are enjoying flat screen TV, and those once paralyzed are playing championship soccer.”
3. Patience. Sisters and brothers, in spite of trillions of signs from God, we can find ourselves in John’s situation in which we begin to doubt if God is God, if Jesus is the Messiah. John was imprisoned by Herod for speaking truth to power, for condemning Herod’s adultery. John may have expected the Messiah, whom he baptized, to deliver him. John may have felt abandoned by the very Messiah whose forerunner he was, whom he had pointed out clearly to others: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (Jn 1:29). John’s crisis of faith was both surprising and understandable. Surprising, because John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit even while in his mother’s womb (Lk 1:15). John received crystal clear signs to recognize the Messiah: “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” (Jn 1:33). At the Baptism of Jesus, a great miracle of confirmation happened, John saw it and heard it all: the Spirit of God descended like a dove on our Lord and a voice from heaven spoke: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased!” (Matt 3:16-17). But what makes John’s crisis of faith understandable? Some months after this Baptism, John was in the cold cell of Herod Antipas! Understandably, John was shaken as we get shaken by personal crises. The solution is the same: from today’s 2nd reading (Jas 5:7-10), “Be patient…until the coming of the Lord”. And if our relationship with Almighty God calls for patience, so too does relationship with one another: with spouses, parents, siblings, colleagues and so on. Yes, the God of miracles continues His work of redemption even while His faithful ones are in painful circumstances which are opportunities for growth in holiness through patience. Yes, God is the ultimate One for us all, so let us persevere in holding unto Him, until perfect union at the marriage feast of the Lamb, when He will “crown us with everlasting joy”. Amen. Gaudete!
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