Fr. Michael’s Homily for Sunday, December 16, 2018

REJOICE FOR THE LORD HAS REPEALED YOUR SENTENCE: A HOMILY OF THE THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR III

Man is constantly in search of a being higher himself – The Supreme Being. He yearns for Him always and will never be content or satisfied by any other created thing. Until he discovers Him, man remains restless and unfilled. Man’s daily struggles from dawn to dusk, ranging from his work, avoidance of evil, searching and defending his freedom, efforts to conquer his environment through technological and scientific discoveries, involvement in alcohol, killing, stealing, extortions, intimidation, praying, works of charity, telling lies etc. are some of the various ways man seeks to actualize this ultimate goal of interior joy and happiness.  

This truth was discovered long ago by the great doctor of the Church, St. Augustine hence, addressing God, he said, “Lord you have made me for yourself and soul will never rest until it rests in you.” All the struggles and aspirations of man is to attain fulfillment and happiness but unfortunately he seeks for happiness in the created things that can only give him momentary pleasure, because he fails to understand that nothing outside the Supreme Being Himself can give true joy and happiness, that is why he ends up being frustrated, unfilled and unhappy. Man of every epoch has always repeated this mistake and no epoch has ever learnt the lesson from the previous generation. Solomon, searching for happiness, gave himself into various forms of pleasurable things like: wine, women, acquisition of wealth, acquisition of worldly wisdom etc. and finding it in none of these, he concluded that all these are vanities and chasing of wind. The road to happiness is always hidden from the wise, the learned and the powerful of this world, and it is only revealed to a few who are truly wise.

For Saints. Paul, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Theresa of Calcutta, in fact, for almost all the saints, the way to perfect happiness is paradoxically, the way of the cross, it is the way of self-abnegation. Happiness is discovered by dying to self which is a clear contrary to the way of the worldly minded people.

In the first reading today Zephaniah asks us to rejoice and dance for joy. Why should we rejoice? Because our sentence has been repealed by the Lord. “Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel shout aloud. Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem, the Lord has repealed your sentence.” In the same vein, St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians, invites us to rejoice. “Rejoice always, again I say rejoice, let all know your forbearance.” But in the gospel, John the Baptistshows us how to attain that happiness. In Luke’s account which today’s gospel was taken we see how John the Baptist began his ministry. He may have touched the lives of many of his hearers by opening their inner sight to see the reality of things as they really were. He may have showed them the secret of happiness and how to attain it. He may have convinced them that they were pursuing shadows rather thanreality. That may have being the reason why they were rushing to him in tears, asking, ‘master what shall we do?’ What shall do in order not to labour in vain, what shall we do to be able to do the will of the Master? What shall we do to be worthy to welcome the coming Messiah? What shall we do to attain interior joy and happiness of our daily yearning? Guess the answer given by Christ’s precursor, be sensitive to your environment. Observe the plights of others and try in yours little way to put smiles in the faces of some people, according to your resources. “If you have two tunics, give one to those who have none, if you have food, share it with the hungry. To the tax collectors he said, do your duties of collecting tax but do not surcharge the tax payers, do not extort them, collect no more than what is required of them. To the soldiers he said, stop intimidation and extortion, be content with your pay. By this preaching John was preparing the people for the coming of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord did not just repeal our sentence, He took our guilt to Himself and paid the supreme price with His precious blood. So our joy should be tripled. Our lives should be a live of unending thanksgiving to this all-loving and all-good God.

As we await the birth of our Lord, let us put on the correct garment, as not to be thrown outside the wedding hall. Let us ponder on the true meaning of happiness and how to attain it, so as to avoid repeating the mistakes of past and even the present generation. Let us also ask the Lord for the grace of courage to step into that narrow road which the scriptures say, only few find. As a matter of urgency, we must add to our daily struggles, effort of self-conquering which is the greatest obstacles we often meet on our road to holiness and which unfortunately led to the hatred, war, false living, backbiting, cheating, infidelity etc. as we experience in our world today. We are constantly called to eschew them, as St. Paul would say, ‘those who practice such will never inherit the kingdom of God. We should have to level the mountain of our prideful life, superiority complex, intimidation, racial discrimination, etc. and fill in the valleys of despair, frustration, self-pity, inferiority complex, alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual misconducts etc. When we do this we can be sure that we are ready for the birth of the Lord. It is only then that we can find fulfilment and interior joy and happiness.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS IN ADVANCE.