Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Year B
Theme: Rejoice in the Lord always
By: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
Homily for Sunday December 13 2020
Responsorial: Luke 1:46-50,53-54
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
Beloved in Christ, on this 3rd Sunday of Advent the liturgy calls us to rejoice and this Sunday is rightly called “Gaudete” Sunday. The entrance song for some centuries was always from the Letter to the Philippians: Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)
The primary common theme running through today’s readings is that of encouraging joy as we meet our need for the preparation required of us who await the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts and lives. The second common theme is that of bearing witness. The prophet Isaiah, Mary and John the Baptist all bear joyful witness to what God has done and will do for His people.
The second reading this Sunday picks up the theme of rejoicing: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” We need to hear both of these realities: rejoice and pray! We can only rejoice always if we are praying without ceasing. God is not asking the impossible of us. We are able to walk through a normal day while keeping Him always in our heart. It is not easy and we shall fail but when we see that God is not in our heart, we can invite Him once more to make us aware of His presence. In that way, we can rejoice and pray all the day long.
The Gospel from Saint John today brings us back to Saint John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a central focus of the Gospel last Sunday and once again he is here for us to consider. We should note that John the Baptist is not at all concerned about being considered great or important. His one concern is to point to Jesus Christ: the One who is to come, whose sandal strap he is unworthy to untie.
Saint John the Baptist is a saint of joy because first he received Jesus with joy, even in the womb of Elizabeth (cf. Luke 1:41) and he points always to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. We also can become people of joy when our lives point to Jesus our Lord. We don’t have to be perfect but we do have to keep pointing to the Lord. Just as in the life of John the Baptist, the more we decrease, the more the Lord may increase. It is a challenge for us to live in such a way that we are always witness to the presence of God and God’s love.
Advent helps us understand just how the news of the birth of Jesus we celebrate during Christmas Season (December 24-January 6) is so very good. In Advent we see, decisively, how God’s reign marks the breakdown and end of every other reign. What the biblical writers knew, and we still know, is that every human reign is disordered, sinful, full of injustice and oppression.
The joyful message of today’s liturgy is clear. The salvation we await with rejoicing will liberate both the individual and the community, and its special focus will be the poor and lowly, not the rich and powerful.
We, as members of the Church, are called to bear witness to Christ by word and deed, in good times and bad—when it suits us and when it doesn’t. We need to be messengers who point out Christ to others, just as John did. John the Baptist’s role as a joyful witness prepared the way for Jesus. John also provides an example for us because our vocation as Christians is to bear “witness” to Christ by our transparent Christian lives.
But it is sad that many are rather living a fake life than a transparent life. This is what we see everyday on the social media, where many people put up appearances different from the reality of their lives, all in the name of packaging. You see such people always in or around exotic cars, drinking and eating in expensive hotels, relaxing on beautiful beaches, cruising on expensive yachts and cruise boats, flying in jets and shopping in expensive boutiques.
Those are the kind of appearances they put up on the social media, and you wonder whether that’s all their life is all about. Unfortunately, such lifestyles are very attractive to our young people, as many of them are made to believe those are the real lifestyles everybody should strive after or at least dream of.
More sadly, these social media lifestyles have only led many aspirants to desperation, resulting in all kinds of vices and ills we have in our society today. The governing propensity is found in the fake life many are living. So one is not surprised to hear in Davido’s song “Life is all about money… Biko nyem ego!” as well as in 9ice’s “K’emi sa ti l’owo…”
Beloved in Christ, by Baptism we become members of the family of Christ, the true Light of the world. Jesus said: “You are the light of the world.” Hence, our mission as brothers and sisters of Christ and members of his Church is to reflect Christ’s Light to others, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun. It is especially important during the Advent season that we reflect Christ’s unconditional love and forgiveness.
There are too many people who live in darkness and poverty, and who lack real freedom. There are others who are deafened and blinded by the fake media lifestyles of others and the cheap attractions of the world. Also, many feel lonely, unwanted, rejected, and marginalized. All these people are waiting for us to reflect the Light of Christ and to turn their lives into experiences of joy, wholeness and integrity. The joy of Jesus, the joy of Christmas can only be ours to the extent that we work with Jesus to bring joy into the lives of others. Let us remember that Christmas is not complete unless we show real generosity to those who have nothing to give us in return.
Let us remember that the Holy Mass is the most powerful of prayers. We must become a Eucharistic people, receiving the living presence of Jesus in our hearts so that we may be transformed into His image and likeness. We encounter Jesus in all the Sacraments. Regular monthly Confession makes us strong and enables us to receive more grace in the Eucharist. Let us also listen daily to God speaking to us through the Bible. Perhaps, we may want to pray the rosary daily and fast once a week all year round, not just during Advent and Lent. After all, we sin all year round, so why not fast also all year round? Let us also find some spare time to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Let us forgive those who have offended us and pray for those whom we have offended.
And the joy of the Lord would be our strength.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*