Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homily for Wednesday of Gaudete–The Third Sunday in Advent


Isaiah 40:1-11; Isaiah 60:1-11; Luke 3:2-3

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The history of humankind is marked by man’s willful choice of slavery and bondage rather than obedience to God’s Word and Law. Our First Parents chose to follow their own wisdom and will over that of their Creator. Likewise did their descendants up until the days of Noah. After God sent the flood to destroy the corrupted earth and its inhabitants, the descendants of Noah and his sons continued in our First Parents rebellious ways. When the children of Israel found themselves in the wilderness desert and God provided them manna and quail, they grumbled and complained and they longed for the bread of slavery and the fleshpots of Egypt. The story of Israel is a continuous cycle of unfaithfulness, enslavement, repentance, and redemption. When Jesus was born, Israel had been under Roman rule for around seventy years, and under Greek rule for about one hundred sixty years before that. Still, the religious leadership of the Jews chose to suffer under continued Roman oppression rather than to confess their sins and receive forgiveness as Jesus preached and taught. As the high priest Caiaphas infamously and prophetically said, “It is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.”

Though sin entered the world through the one man Adam, and death reigned through Moses and beyond, yet through the one man Jesus have all men been made to be righteous. He came to those who could not and would not come to Him. He came as light into a world of darkness and sin. He came as life into a world of death. He came as the New Adam, the New Man, holy, obedient, and righteous. He laid down His life unto death that men might live through Him. He came to draw all men to Himself – nations to His Light, kings to the brightness of His rising. Sons and daughters will come from afar, nations shall come to Him. For, He is for all people comfort, pardon, and peace with God.

But, has He not always been this? Has not His disposition toward man been one of mercy, love, and forgiveness. Yet, men hide from Him and love the darkness because their deeds are evil. Men love the creation and hate the Creator of all things. And men willfully chose bondage and slavery to sin and death rather than the God who is and gives life because they will not submit their own will and wisdom to the One who made them, who loves them, and who still preserves them.

And so, God sent them prophets to prepare them for salvation by calling them to repentance, to turn from their sins and the way that leads only to death, and return to Him for forgiveness, life, and salvation. The prophets too were repeatedly persecuted and killed. Then He sent John the Baptist, the son of Zechariah, the last of the prophets, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin. He was sent to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus by bringing down man’s mountainous pride and by raising him up out of his valleys of desperation. Though he spoke to them harshly, it was necessary, for John was the physician who pronounced mankind terminal with a sin-sickness that leads unto death. He proclaimed that all flesh is withering and dying grass. But, he pointed men out of their hopelessness, death, and despair to the only source of comfort of hope: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

He has come. He comes. He is coming. Though our Savior Jesus has come in lowliness and humility, still He comes to us in grace and mercy, and He is coming in glory and great might. Still, the voice of John the Baptist prepares in us the way for the coming of the Lord through a preaching of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. We must hear his words daily and return to the Lord our God in repentance. We must return daily to our baptisms in repentance and receive holy absolution for the sake of Jesus. For, comfort is here. Peace has come. And, the Light of the World has risen upon us.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

No comments: