First Sunday of Advent Homily Below-
3rd Sunday of Advent
Reading I: Zep 3:14-18 II: Phil 4:4-7
10 And the multitudes asked him, "What then shall we do?"
11 And he answered them, "He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise."
12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?"
13 And he said to them, "Collect no more than is appointed you."
14 Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what shall we do?" And he said to them, "Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages."
15 As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ,
16 John answered them all, "I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
18 So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people.
When John the Baptizer first appeared, he did so proclaiming "a baptism of repentance" (3:3). When he speaks, he demands "good fruits as evidence of repentance" (3:8). Here various groups approach Jesus demanding to know precisely what "good fruits" they are to bear.
It was a common cultural belief in those days that if someone has more of something, someone else automatically has less. Also in this culture to have more than one need is greed.
In the Roman Empire a chief collector was usually a native who bid for the right to collect tolls but had to pay the assessment to Rome immediately upon winning the bid. It was then his task to recoup this sum and make a profit if possible.
The soldiers are best understood as Judean men enlisted in the service of Herod Antipas. These soldiers were despised because they worked for Rome's puppet king and strove to enforce the will of Rome, the occupying power.
"Loosen the thongs" This task was reserved to servants, never performed by children of the household. A rabbi's disciples were forbidden to untie his sandals and so John disclaims the role of disciple. He is, simply, a servant and less than a servant.
One Main Point
It is not the religious leaders who are willing to repent, but the ordinary people and those who are on the fringes of Jewish society: toll collectors, soldiers. These are the same people who respond positively to Jesus' teachings.
Are greed, selfishness and abuse of power and position still my weaknesses?
Who is the modern voice crying in the wilderness for me at this time? Am I invited to be this voice?
FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT HOMILY
Growing up in an alcoholic family, my Dad was a loud and sloppy drunk. We moved often because he would get angry and punch holes in the walls-landlords didn’t like that, often arrested or just taken home from a bar fight by police. Finally my mom couldn’t take it any more and threw him out of the house. Away from his 5 children for almost a year, he hit bottom, stopped drinking and came home. He also joined AA. Unfortunately two of my brothers followed in his footsteps. The next brother after me ,an ex marine with 3 beautiful daughters, drank heavily after work, until one night he fell asleep while driving and ended up in the retaining pond of the Husdon bay, thank God he had a big car and didn’t drowned. He hit bottom and stopped drinking. My youngest brother never hit bottom and died an alcoholic at 41.
The concept “hitting rock bottom” in AA and all 12 step programs; that is, an individual will not admit his or her sickness and seek help until her or she has experienced the greatest amount of pain possible. To hit “rock bottom” is to reach lows that cannot be exceeded. Truly the bottom.
Today’s Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent also describes conditions which appear to be beyond “the point of no return”: There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in distress, confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. (Luke 21: 25
Our Church, our country and world are in very precarious situations. The Church’s power and sex abuse crisis is upsetting thousands of clergy and lay people; even this week the diocesan offices of the Houston Texas church were raided by authorities. It not going away. Many believe that it will bring about historic changes in the institutional Church. When will we hit bottom?
In the world, The number of people fleeing their homes due to famine, violence, and poverty is at post World War II high. The US and Saudi backed war in Yemen and its blockage of ports have 22 million people starving, a child dies every 10 seconds. When will we hit bottom?
In our own country, At our own border, 7000 troops and border agents under equipped to process those fleeing violence in their countries from seeking legal and legitimate asylum. In the chaos, agents are pelted with rocks and bottles and barefoot women and children in diapers are gased. Have we hit bottom yet?
Fires, floods, and hurricanes are producing storms of the “century” on a regular basis, wiping out farmers’ fields, destroying people’s homes, We’ve seen 1/3 of California burn. And yet some deny climate change as a hoax. If we hit bottom on this issue, its too late.
We make these things political to support or defend our tribal way of thinking. And it continues to divide us. How low do we have to go?
The Jewish people expected great calamity before the coming of the Son of God, we too can take heart, searching for and finding a silver lining during these challenging times. As the addict is most likely to seek help when feeling the sickest, when they hit bottom, we too must rise to the occasion, when our Church, our nation and world seem to be most broken and beyond help.
To repeat a slogan from my police academy walls, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Yes there are signs that the world is near rock bottom, But such signs of catastrophe and chaos have been taking place throughout history.
Those signs tell us to be aware of the Lord's presence amid the turmoil of life and to be ready to stand before him when he makes his ultimate return in glory. We do that, as Saint Paul tells us in our Second Reading, by conducting ourselves in ways pleasing to God. And we must always remember, “When we do it to the least, we do it to him.”
True, This season of Advent calls us to be prepared for the celebration of Christmas.
But even more importantly, Advent reminds us to be alert for the Lord as he shows himself in our desperate world, You will see Him, JUST, BE ALERT!