Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent Year C 2021
Many of us have stood at a greeting card rack, trying to pick out that perfect card that says how we are truly feeling for the person that we are buying it for? A phrase or a few words catches our attention and it’s sold. For years, advertisers have used the same approach. Just look at TV commercials… 30 seconds to 1 minute short stories to catch our attention and hopefully to sell us a service or product. Especially this time of year… Gib Forester vignettes on the radio…short snippets of bygone Christmases to help make us realize the real meaning of Christmas.
Luke’s Gospel today has done the same thing: a short story that not only catch our attention but as well, to move our focus away from John the Baptist and direct it to Jesus. And look how it’s done: Everyone is coming to John the Baptist: crowds of people, including tax collectors, soldiers, those on the fringes of society, the unaccepted and the hated…a cross section of people…and they’re all asking the same question: “what should we do?” Although his answer is practical John challenges these people’s behaviour to make others the focus of their care: “Whoever has 2 cloaks, should share with the one who has not…to the tax collectors, stop collecting more than what is prescribed…to the soldiers, do your work honestly…” His answers indicate that something new is happening. His good news pointed to the one who is ALL good news, “a mighty Saviour” who is in our midst (as we heard in the First Reading). The Good News is not a message but a person. The Good News is Jesus.
“What should we do?” How many of us have asked ourselves that question? Students preparing to graduate from High School, college or university no doubt are asking this question. Those who find themselves living in unhealthy relationships are asking this question? Economists who are fearful of the rise in inflation are asking, “what should we do”. Governments are asking scientist as we battle covid and it’s many variants, “what shall we we do?” to start: GET VACCINATED! The Leadership of the Church, which is having a two year synod, is asking us the first time ever, “what shall we do?”People in western and eastern Canada recovering from flooding and now people in Kentucky and 5 other states ravaged last night by tornadoes are definitely asking “what should we do?”
The gospel gives a simple challenge: make Jesus the center of our lives. Look how Jesus responded to people… not with lofty terms, laws or regulations but rather with love and compassion. This is how we are to respond… with open and hope-filled hearts.
This is the Third Sunday of Advent, two weeks from today is Christmas Day. Today our emphasis is not on the fact that Christmas is almost here. Rather, the emphasis is that Christ is always being en-fleshed in our midst. “What should we do?” We know the answer: love and point others to Jesus, just as John the Baptist did. Amen.