3rd. Sunday of Advent (B)
(Isaiah 61: 1-2, 10-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1: 6-8, 19-28)
I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul; for He has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.
Who can speak like that? Only the Christ, speaking of His humanity,
Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem,
and the blessed Virgin Mother referring to her Immaculate Conception:
like a bride bedecked with her jewels.
The book of Revelation (19:7) gives us another viewpoint:
Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him (God) glory, for the wedding day of the Lamb has come, His bride (humankind) has made herself ready.
And the reason for all this our Advent rejoicing is because, as the prophet Isaiah tells us:
The Lord God will make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.
However, the greatest of all the prophets who was uniquely close to our Blessed Lord Jesus on the very cusp of Israel’s fulfilment, found himself confirming Isaiah’s prophecy by making use of more sober language in order to reveal with all clarity a truly disconcerting reality:
I am not the Christ; I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord; for there is One among you Whom you do not recognize, the One Who is coming after me, Whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.
That, dear People of God, is the setting for our Advent preparations to welcome the Lord coming to His spouse, Mother Church, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem:
There is One among you Whom you do not recognize.
Dear People of God, look all around you this Advent time at the great majority of Christmas celebrations and you will have no doubt about the truth of the Baptist’s words:
There is One among you Whom you do not recognize.
Why is Jesus not recognized today by those, so many of them, who were formerly professing Catholics or Christians? It is, to a certain extent, because many have succumbed to the lure and enticements of popular sin, or have fainted or despaired under the burden of personal and worldly cares.
There is, however, another cause for Jesus being unrecognizable to too many modern self-styled believers, and that is because they are out of touch, unaware of and insensitive to the authentic Traditions of Mother Church … they are ‘undoctrinal’ believers, being entirely given over to and satisfied by the emotional feelings and convictions welling up from their just-me-and-Jesus-here-and-now drive, enthusiastically accompanied by others who much prefer to feel rather than to think about Jesus; who prefer to demonstrate publicly rather than to privately pray to God in the solitude of their hearts, or to consider calmly with other good Catholic friends, or (most unacceptable of all) to humbly seek enlightenment. They make use of the Bible of course but interpret it popularly for themselves, as they will, as they want, here and now.
Dear Catholic People of God, we Catholics are the original Christians, members of the original body established by Jesus as His Church on the foundations of His Personally chosen and endowed Apostles, to whom He uniquely said:
I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told YOU everything I have heard from My Father. (John 15:15)
Moreover, He promised those original Twelve:
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in My name — He will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you. (John 14:26)
Those original Apostles are thus the source of Mother Church’s essential doctrines and traditions, and it is absolutely necessary that those Apostolic memories of Jesus’ words, addressed Personally and directly to them as His personal friends for the good of further friends to come through their ministry, that those Apostolic traditions known from Jesus’ very actions and attitudes witnessed by their own eyes and heard by their own ears, remain intact in Mother Church today. No one -- not even Pope, and certainly not Prince -- can sever us from Jesus’ love and guidance handed down through the ages in those Apostolic traditions and teaching.
There are difficulties today for a faithless generation wanting to justify itself and confirm its worldly popularity: it tries to confuse issues by subtly ‘updating’ texts, by teaching in accordance with modern preferences while, on the other hand, simply trying to consign to oblivion what cannot be thus ‘updated’.
This is due to the fact that (as Jesus Himself said, John 14:17):
This is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, because He abides with you, and He will be in you.
The world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth because it does not, will not, believe in Jesus:
And when He (the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth) comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin, because they do not believe in Me. (John 16:8–9)
The Apostles, on the other hand, know the Spirit of Truth, because He now abides with them as the future Catholic (universal) Church of Jesus, and will be in them, individually, as faithful disciples of and witnesses to Jesus their Lord, their Master and their Saviour.
The season of Advent is a time of great expectancy, because we are looking forward to the coming of the Lord; and, being certain that His coming anew this Christmas will be for our blessing, we beseech His most Holy Spirit to prepare us to welcome Him with hearts and minds authentically attuned to Him in the Apostolic purity of Mother Church’s teaching and traditions.
We are also aware that at the appointed time -- we do not know when -- He will come in glory to judge the world, to triumph over all His enemies and cast out Satan; and then, after having ultimately established the Kingdom of God, He will lead all His faithful ones to worship, and rejoice in, the supreme Lordship of His Father. This is what St. Paul explained when writing his first letter to his converts in the great Greek seaport of Corinth (1 Corinthians 15:22-26):
As in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For, He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet; the last enemy that will be destroyed is death, for, "He has put all things under His feet."
This season of Advent is, consequently, a time of joyful expectancy, because the true disciple of Jesus, although being fully aware of his human weakness and personal sinfulness, nevertheless, most assuredly hopes and trusts that, ultimately, he will be called to share in His Lord’s heavenly glory and experience eternal blessedness in His Kingdom, for Isaiah (40:10) rightly spoke of the Lord God coming to His People with an abundance of blessings:
Here comes with power the Lord GOD, Who rules by His strong arm; here is His reward with Him, His recompense before Him;
and therefore, even now, all true disciples of Jesus can take up in all simplicity, humility, and sincerity the blessing, the reward and recompense, of rejoicing enshrined in Isaiah’s great prophecy:
I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul.