Third Sunday of Advent

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. End of the quarter, and a whole bunch of things got in the way. But here we are, in a new liturgical year, on the Third Sunday of Advent. Instead of just some reflections, I’m posting the text of the homily I preached today.

There’s a little more light today.

It might not seem like there’s more light, because the days are rapidly getting shorter, and will continue to do so until the winter solstice. The darkness and cold of the night seem so much more prevalent than the joyful light of day.

But still, there’s a little more light today.

It might not seem like there’s more light, when we look at the darkness of our world. It is a world still wrapped in sin and scandal and death. It is a world affected by sickness and disease. It is a world where tragedies and wars still hang heavy on our horizons. It is a world where the sadness of poverty and injustice and inequality and racism still mar the brightness of our days.

But still, there’s a little more light today.

It might not seem like there’s more light, when we look inward at the darkness of our own souls, grown cold in the scandal of sin in the world and grown bitter at the triumph of injustice and death. In our own lives, there is sin, sin that maybe has been defended by our own self-righteousness, or ignored in our jadedness. In our own lives, maybe we have prayed less than we should, or treated others with something quite less than love, or have been greedy, or have damaged our relationships by giving in to lust, or have taken possession of what does not belong to us. In our own lives, maybe our sin has gone unconfessed because of fear or indifference.

But still, there’s a little more light today.

John the Baptist came into the world to point to that light. He readily admitted that he himself was not the light, but drew the attention of the Pharisees and others who were questioning him to the one who was already in their midst – one they did not recognize. And that one was Jesus Christ, the true light of the world.

Because of John the Baptist, we can see that there’s a little more light today.

The Church tells us there is more light as we continue to light the candles on our Advent wreath. With each additional candle, there is more light shining on our celebration and drawing us into the great light of Christmas. We light the rose candle today, the color of which reminds us that this is “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete is Latin for “joy,” and reminds us that even in the darkness of winter, even in the darkness of our world and even in the darkness of our own lives and sin, that there is one among us – one that maybe we don’t recognize as often as we should. And that one light is Jesus Christ, the true light of the world.

Because of the Church, we can see that there’s a little more light today.

In today’s second reading, St. Paul tells the community at Thessolonica to do three things: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in every circumstance. These three actions are the heart of the Christian life, and keep us united to Christ. To do anything less would be to quench the Holy Spirit, and St. Paul insisted that living a life filled with rejoicing, prayer and thanksgiving was the way to become perfectly holy, which is the goal of all of our lives.

Because of St. Paul, there’s a little more light today.

All of this comes as a result of God’s gracious gift in our world and in our lives. By Christ coming into the world as a tiny child, and growing up to take our sins to the cross and rise triumphant over them, the darkness of sin and death are no longer the powers that rule the day. Instead, the great light of God’s love, against which nothing can prevail, becomes the great power of the day.

Because of Jesus Christ, there’s a lot more light today.

So it comes to us. Now we are called to be the light that brightens our darkened world. The spirit of the Lord God is upon us, and we have been anointed to bring good news to the poor and to heal the brokenhearted. We must be the light that releases those imprisoned in darkness and proclaims the vindication of God.

And I would like to suggest that we can use St. Paul’s model to do that in three very specific ways. First, we can rejoice always. In this season, maybe we can all send a Christmas card to someone who wouldn’t otherwise receive one; to someone who probably won’t send one back to us. Maybe that’s to a relative who has grown distant, or a homebound neighbor. Even if you don’t send any other cards this Christmas, send that one card. Second, we can pray without ceasing. And in Advent, maybe that means going to Confession. The Sacrament of Penance can make the world very bright for you and for the community by letting go of the darkness of sin. There’s a penance service on December 21st, and many other opportunities for the sacrament before Christmas. Be not afraid, there is a lot of joy and much light that comes from celebrating the sacrament of our forgiveness. And third, give thanks in all circumstances. This Advent, maybe we can all take the time to thank one person for what he or she has done in our lives this year. God gives us the blessing of so many relationships, but how often do we thank God for them, or even thank them for being God’s presence in our lives? Or maybe we can make a list of people and blessings for which we are thankful, and pray through them as we sit by the light of our Christmas trees this season. Let us give thanks in all circumstances.

Because, if we do even these small things, we will see that in us, there’s a little more light today.

The short URL of the present article is: http://frpat.me/39FFL