| DEAR FRIEND IN CHRIST, DUE TO MY PREACHING COMMITMENTS IN THE UAE FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH (9TH NOVEMBER TILL THE FIRST WEEK OF DECEMBER – 2009) A FEW HOMILIES MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE ON THE HOMILY PAGE. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING. GOD BLESS.
FR. RUDOLF V. D’SOUZA OCD
SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT – 2009
Thomas Edison tried two thousand different materials in search of a filament for the light bulb. When none worked satisfactorily, his assistant complained, “All our work is in vain. We have learned nothing.”
Edison replied very confidently, “Oh, we have come a long way and we have learned a lot. We now know that there are two thousand elements which we cannot use to make a good light bulb.”
We hear of John, previous to our text, as the babe that leaps in Elizabeth’s womb (1:41). After his birth we hear the song that his father, Zechariah, sings about his role in preparing the way for the “mighty saviour” (Luke 1:67-79). Yet, between his birth and his appearance in our reading there is no mention of John. The scripture does not tell us when he enters, or how long John is in the wilderness. It is only conjecture, but perhaps John is sent into the wilderness away from his parents, away from civilization to be tested and to endure a trial that teaches him to depend solely on God.
We know John will speak out against wrong and be imprisoned (Luke 3:19-20), then beheaded by Herod (Mark 6:28). We know the one whom he heralds compares him with prophets of old and praises him (Matt 11:11-13). What we do not know is how this unlikely messenger moves to the edge of the wilderness, just beyond positions of power and orderliness, to call the people back to God, cajoling them into a baptism of repentance (metonia) for the forgiveness of sin. We can conjecture that it is God who empowers John the Baptist to be able to cry out, to all within the range of his voice, to be washed in water, and see the coming salvation of God (3:6).
Paul, another unlikely messenger, thanks and congratulates the followers of Christ in Philippi for believing and “proclaiming God’s message.” He prays that they continue to grow in a fuller condition of love and that this condition might influence how they live their lives. Paul calls us all to live so that Jesus would be proud.
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways.” Yes, I know I am quoting a Michael Jackson song, and even as I write I know you the reader may groan. With all the previous media attention around Michael Jackson’s death in June of this year, these are the words that come to mind as I think about John’s cry of repentance (metonia). Metonia word-translated repentance from the Greek can be interpreted as “a change of mind.” It implies a sense of regret or remorse. The very potent lyrics of Jackson’s song, “I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat. Who am I to be blind? Pretending not to see their need” implies the regret of not seeing what is right in front of him. The song, composed by Seidah Garrett, is calling us to stop and change our minds.
John the Baptist’s call is similar. He steps out of the wilderness in a clear strong voice calling us to stop ignoring God. “Prepare the way of the Lord,” John cries. Later he will tell those gathered how. (Luke 3:11) But how do we? As we move closer and closer to the most commercialized day of the year, in a time of recent economic crisis, how do we “make his paths straight”? Could the economic crisis, which might be thought of as a wilderness experience, help us depend solely on God? This Advent can we change our minds about money, power, status, and our sense of orderliness? I believe we can. We are empowered by God through the waters of our baptism; we are promised the forgiveness of sins; we can change our minds. Yes, I know Michael Jackson is an unlikely messenger of repentance but as he sings, he calls us to “Take a look at ourselves and make that change.”
Repent and believe the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repentance is a way of getting back on track. It is a time to be self introspective. I have been preaching now in the UAE and I myself feel the power of working among people. Repentance really gives people another chance for a change, a change that can bring them immense joy and a change in their attitude makes them really happy and healthy people.
John the Baptist did just the same inviting people to repentance. Asking them to change their old ways and keep updating with the new ones that lead them to the joys of God’s Kingdom.
Father what can I do? I do not know to get reconciled with my wife. I said start with a smile on your face. Change your basic attitudes towards her. Look for creative ways of dealing with her. Be sure of this sooner than later you will find changing waves in your wife’s life style.
Basically we know that our mistakes make us perfect. We need to learn from them, that is the secret of our success. If you are afraid of making mistakes, you will never arrive anywhere.