John the Baptist represented the culmination of prophecy in Israel. He called Israel to repentance and as we can see in the gospel he exhorted Israel to moral behaviour, insisting that people should be just, honest, and generous.
But as important as all that John did was, moral goodness alone – which effectively was what John preached – would not change the world. There is no shortage of morally good people who can testify to this. Moral goodness alone, for all its value and importance, won’t free human beings from sin and it certainly won’t make eternal life with God possible.
For that something more is needed and that’s what Our Lord offered through his life, death, and resurrection. The grace unleashed by Our Lord’s sacrifice perfected our moral life, it elevated our nature, and it made possible eternal life with God.
RELATED HOMILIES: Enjoyby Friar Gregory Pearson, O.P. (2018) Dancing for Joy by Friar David Goodill, O.P. (2015)
Unlike the secular world, the Church does not celebrate Christmas during Advent; she waits for the Baby to be born. Then, starting with the vigil the evening of Dec. 24, she celebrates Christmas Day for a full octave, or eight days. She continues to rejoice throughout the Christmas Season, which lasts until the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated this year Jan. 9.
The Christmas Octave and the Christmas season are the time for parties. Advent, when “Love, the Guest, is on the way,” is the time for preparation. Starting this Sunday, try to withdraw as much as possible from the “Christmas rush” and participate in Advent. Then “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” as St. Paul says.
Paul says in today’s second reading, “Don’t worry about anything.” Well, how realistic is that? Don’t we have a lot of things to worry about? All indicators show anxiety is on the increase in America. Prozac and other related drugs are the most prescribed medicine on the market. Surveys show that Americans, rather than becoming more secure and confident, are becoming more worried and anxious. Studies also show that most of that anxiety does not make sense. One report claims that 40% of things that people worry about never happen; 30% have already happened; 12% of the people worry about what other people might say; 10% worry about possibly getting sick without any reason to do so. Therefore only 8% of anxiety can be traced to some real and present trouble. How do we then explain that 92% of anxiety seems to be free-floating and not connected to any objective, present reality?
Well, that’s what the song says – but for many, the truth is something very different – and not so wonderful… When you tear off the bright ribbons and wrappings of Christmas, you’ll often uncover, underneath, some sadness… If you look closely behind all the quick and easy holiday smiles, you may find tears, moistening many faces… As you listen to Christmas music, you might hear your own heart echo strains of loneliness and loss…
Have you ever received in the mail or through social media or the internet an offer whereby you have received a $1000 gift card or 50% savings on future purchases at a department store or online business? Especially at this time of the year. Well, this gimmick comes with a hidden fee: consumers have to purchase a certain amount of goods and services before the “free stuff” is honored. Jesus Christ is not a gimmick. His gift to us of Himself born of the Virgin Mary is real and mysteriously incomprehensible. But, He asks of us to repent in order to get the full benefit of the gift.
NO CYCLE C HOMILY AVAILABLE FOR THIS WEEK; HOMILY IS FROM CYCLE B,
Is not Atticus, in many ways, a figure of John the Baptist? Atticus can be seen as a man proclaiming the truth even in the face of persecution, misunderstanding and ridicule. Like John the Baptist, he proclaimed and held to the light even in the very midst of darkness. Both men faced the same temptations – the temptation to remain quiet, to keep ones head down, to not make waves. Both also faced the temptation to proclaim oneself.
John the Baptist was a radical. He called people to make a radical change in their lives. Sometimes we let the sentimentality of Christmas get in the way of our the call of the prophet. Christmas is about a radical change in the world and a radical change in ourselves. Maybe we cannot forget a hurt. But we have no right to let that hurt continually destroy us. We enter into the realm of sin when we let the actions of others be an excuse for our joining them in breaking charity.
What shall we do? Well, we need to develop and nurture our prayer lives. We need to make the time to speak to the Lord, giving him at least fifteen minutes a day. A half hour would be much better.
The past two years have probably been the worst years of their lives for Americans and for those of the rest of the world. Besides all the ordinary struggles that individuals and families have to face – we have had to deal with the Covid Pandemic. This has turned everyone’s personal world upside down. Millions have died from the virus – and millions more will suffer effects of the virus for years to come!
People have reacted, or responded, to this world-wide upheaval in many different ways. Countless people have become depressed – Drug and alcohol abuse have increased – Child and spousal abuse have escalated in vulnerable families. Suicide rates have gone up. And people are polarized over politics and government mandates!
On this, the third Sunday of Advent or Gaudete Sunday, we sense a definite mood change. The austerity of what can be a sombre, though hope-filled penitential season, is replaced by a shift of emphasis. We see a burst of colour appearing at the Mass today as rose-coloured vestments replace the violet and we are enjoined at the Introit to: Rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice or Gaudete in Domino semper, hence Gaudete Sunday. But why this shift in emphasis? We are edging that bit nearer to celebrating the coming of Our Lord at Christmas, that is undeniably true, but also because St John the Baptist is proclaiming the Coming of our Saviour…
Don’t worry; be happy. So we’ve always been advised on the third Sunday of Advent. Crank up the jollies. Rejoice. Cheer up.
What if you don’t feel like it? What if you feel besieged, overworked, overwrought, tired, cramped, and alone?
Sometimes the most useless thing to say to a sad person is “Snap out of it.” Yet this is what the Liturgy of the Word seems to insist on. Zephaniah tells a timid, disheartened people: “Fear not, be not discouraged. … God will rejoice over you with gladness.” Simple as that.
This Sunday you will probably see pink colour instead of the habitual violet, symbol of prayer and penitence. Pink, lighter colour, symbolises joy. Similarly, among the four candles on the Advent wreath you may have a pink one that will be lit. In so doing, we are reminded to keep in mind, and never lose sight of, the joy of meeting our savoir that inspires our prayer and penitence during Advent. Half-way through our journey, we take time to relish this experience of grace. Indeed, it’s important to celebrate the small victories we make along the way as a way of maintaining our zest.
Friends, a couple years ago, there was a poll conducted in Great Britain that revealed that the majority of people there feel that Jesus was not a real, historical figure, but rather more of a mythic character. There are all kinds of spiritual systems that trade in mythic language bearing spiritual truths—but that’s not what Christianity is.
Have You Found Joy?
Friends, on this Gaudete Sunday, we are called to rejoice! Detach yourself from the anxieties of the world and live in the peace and joy of Christ.
Sunday Podcast Archive
The podcasts on this page are from the archives of Bishop Barron who has been doing them for over 20 years. All of the podcasts below relate to this Sunday Readings.
Like most of the prophets, Zephaniah trades in a fair amount of doom and gloom—but he also dreams of the great day of victory and vindication. The Apostle Paul—the former rabbi Shaul, who had studied the prophets and their works under the great teacher Gamaliel—came to see that in the Paschal Mystery, in the dying and rising of Jesus, the totality of Zephaniah’s message was realized. The destruction that Zephaniah and the others foresaw came massively true in the destruction of Christ’s body on the cross. However, having gone all the way down, God in Christ brought the human race all the way up. Therefore, rejoice!
Our Gospel for this third Sunday of Advent is of extraordinary importance, for it speaks to us of the transformation, the transfiguration of the self, which is unique to Christianity. To be baptized in the Holy Spirit is to be immersed in the ocean of the divine love. When we are dipped into this reality, we become capable of something that neither Aristotle nor Plato nor the Founding Fathers nor the prophets themselves dreamed possible: we can love with the very love of God.
Our Gospel for today centers around a question that is bracing in its directness and simplicity. A group of people come to the Baptist and ask “what should we do?” The spiritual life is about a set of behaviors and practices, focused, as John the Baptist specifies, around the work of justice.
The third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday, Rejoice! Sunday. God is a community of joy and the purpose of creation and redemption is to share that joy. Everything in Christian life–from law and ritual to doctrine and moral praxis–is meant to lead us into deeper joy.
Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, shares thoughts on preaching pro-life on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Cycle C. The theme of joy is the center on this Sunday’s readings and what this joy means.
As Christmas draws closer, the Church’s liturgy today emphasizes the theme of joy, which is not simply a happiness based on good circumstances, but a profound exultation of spirit based on the salvation that comes from God himself. Every human spirit longs for joy, but often does not know how to find it. Instead, we are all too aware of the things that rob us of joy and peace, and the evils, both in our own lives and in the world, from which we need to be saved.
Advent is about the expectation of complete salvation. It is not a time that we pretend that Christ has not come and try to imagine welcoming him for the first time; rather, it is a time when, acknowledging that Christ has already come, we await the full unfolding of the effects of the salvation he brings. That’s what the first and second readings today refer to. “He has turned away your enemies…you have no further misfortune to fear…Have no anxiety at all…” People may find these assurances unrealistic, but they are not. For one thing, the coming of Christ has destroyed the power of sin and death at its roots. No matter what misfortunes may still happen, or what causes of anxiety may still torment us, the fact is that we always have access to God. That is why we dismiss anxiety from our minds. He has baptized us in the Holy Spirit, as John the Baptizer promised (today’s Gospel). That Holy Spirit gives us total access to God, to an understanding of his word, and to the grace of salvation. Hence, no matter what is happening in our lives, we can say “Merry Christmas.”
The total salvation Christ brings, which is unfolding each day, is physical as well as spiritual. The whole universe will be transformed. All physical violence, such as abortion, will be overcome. Therefore, we rejoice now, as we embrace the Christ who has already come, and as we wait in joyful hope for him to come again.
Celebrant: The Lord is in our midst. With peace of mind, let us bring our needs to Him.
That the Kingdom of God ushered into our world by the coming of Christ may turn away the destructive power of terrorism and war, we pray to the Lord…
That elected leaders may have wisdom, courage, and sincere concern for those they represent, we pray to the Lord…
That through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn, couples may experience the joy that comes with every new life, and in that joy find strength to overcome the difficulties they may face, we pray to the Lord…
That those who are burdened by anxiety may experience God’s own peace, and the joy of His presence, we pray to the Lord…
That the sick and dying may be comforted by the love of God and the Christian community, we pray to the Lord…
Father, you call your people to rejoice
at the coming of Your Son.
Make our joy complete as you grant these petitions.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
When the year 1000 was about to dawn, people fled to mountains, expecting the return of Christ. When 2000 came, people feared major computer — and hence societal — breakdowns. Neither happened. Yet both moments in history remind us of something deeper, the lesson of Advent. Advent means “coming.” The Lord wants us to anticipate and prepare for His coming, not as something that we hinge on a particular date or identify with a particular calamity, but as an ordinary aspect of our daily Christian living. On the one hand, we know He is coming; on the other, we don’t know when. Yet every moment is an opportunity to make that coming more central to our lives. Lord, may we welcome you daily in your Word, your Sacraments, and in all our brothers and sisters!
As we prepare for the Lord’s coming this Advent, there are many things we can learn from John: on the personal level for greater kindness and honesty, more consideration for others, being content with what we have; and on the social level for greater social awareness leading to action towards social justice and structural reforms.
Everyone wants to be happy, yearns for happiness. Who does not wish to be happy? I’ve never met a man who complained about being too happy. Here and there we get a taste of it, not often enough, but a taste of happiness nonetheless. Think of those happy personal experiences we’ve had. How one way or the other they involve others, and if they do not how we will search out others to share our happiness. Even the little “thank you’s” we share with each other are signs of gratitude, happiness and heaven. Imagine a world without ‘thank you’s’. We know we have acquired this taste for heaven – “not as the world gives” — Jesus told us, but in the “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you always. … Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful”, John 14:27. This love, this peace, this taste for heaven, operates in all circumstances including sorrow and pain, the first gift of heaven we may experience here.
It’s difficult to be cheerful when there’s so much left to do this holiday season, especially when we’re trying to make up for all we missed last year due to the pandemic. The last thing we need is someone telling us not to worry – unless it’s the apostle Paul, writing to Philippi from death row in Rome – whose message of joy should serve us as well now as it did 2,000 years ago! Don’t worry. Rejoice!
LIFEISSUES.NET WEBSITE PUBLISHES ARTICLES DIRECTLY RELATED TO ISSUES RAISED IN EVANGELIUM VITAE, AND RELATED HOMILIES BY FR. AL CARIÑO, O.M.I., FR. TONY PUEYO, AND OTHERS.
U.K. Woman Arrested Twice for Silent Prayer | EWTN Pro-Life Weekly | Thursday, March 23, 2023
Pro-Abortion Measures Could Be on the Ballot in Ohio and Missouri | Pro-Life Weekly | March 23, 2023
CENSORED: How Can Pro-life Americans Fight Back Against Big Tech? | Pro-Life Weekly | March 23, 2023
FULL EPISODE: EWTN Pro-Life Weekly | Thursday, March 23, 2023
Rep. Ayanna Pressley Wants YOU To Praise Abortionists | EWTN Pro-Life Weekly | March 23, 2023
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A SERMON FOR EVERY SUNDAY (13:43) – The Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery is the dean of Duke University Chapel and Associate Professor of Homiletics at Duke Divinity School. A national leader in the theological study of the art of preaching, Powery regularly delivers sermons at Duke Chapel as well as at churches throughout the U.S. and abroad. In this week’s sermon from Luke 3:7-18 he notes, “‘You brood of vipers,’ probably isn’t the best way to start a sermon,” but John the Baptist does have a way of getting our attention. As the sermon progresses it becomes clear that John was fed up with, “Jesus talk without justice walk.” How about you? Are you walking the talk?
John the Baptist is not interested in people’s roots, their membership cards, their family connections, their past. He’s interested in their fruits: what they are doing now with mercy on their minds, what they are doing now for God’s own pleasure and purpose. John doesn’t care about how they talk, whether they know the right words and can string them together. What concerns him is how they walk, whether they are moving down Repentance Road in the direction of the kingdom, whether they are striding one step at a time toward Jerusalem the Glorious.
And that’s why I love John. John the Baptist, forerunner of Christ, advance man for the kingdom of God! Out there in the desert he calls us to repentance and cares enough to insist we get it right.
John the Baptist is a holy embarrassment! During these December days all the world appears caught up in conspicuous consumption and sickening sentimentalism, marshmallow ethics, spirituality where hearts are warmed by what may be simply indigestion. So what does John the Baptist do? He stands up and shouts that we are no better than a bunch of baby snakes! He doesn’t care who we are, where we come from, what beliefs we hold. John gets right into our faces like the best friend we ever had and demands that we repent. The guy’s for real!
Some people find themselves in the margins of life for reasons they do not choose. They are born in poverty, for example, or they are a minority of some kind in their culture. War displaces people. Disability can push a person aside, or illness. Death, also. Last Sunday, a room overflowed with those in our church who are bereaved and know how alien it feels to be grieving in this season of joy.
But John challenges the crowd to choose the margins intentionally. Here’s how: those with two coats give one to somebody in need, those with food share with those without, tax collectors don’t cheat, soldiers show respect and be honest. It has echoes of that other prophet who said God only wants this: that you love mercy and do justice and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8).
To live like this puts you on the margins because – watch an hour of TV, go to a movie, read a best seller, attend an office party – and you know the world doesn’t work that way.
“What can we do?” asked the tax collectors. “What can we do?” asked the soldiers. Both of these groups were despised people in the Jewish culture; outcasts actually. Tax collectors took great advantage of people, collecting much more than was required by Caesar, and keeping the difference for themselves. Soldiers were Roman citizens with little regard for the Jewish people, and would often unfairly accuse individuals of a crime and then be bribed to recant the accusation. So John offers both groups an alternative. Don’t collect more tax than you ought to; don’t swindle people.
These are simple changes in lifestyle; changes in attitude, really. But it gave the people of John’s day hope. They did not need to fear the coming of the Messiah if their hearts were in the right place. They did not need to live perfect lives; they did not need to change the world. “Love God and serve people.” That was John’s message.
Well, it’s been 2000 years, and it’s still a good question: “What should we do?” The problem is, few are asking it today. We are busy working our jobs and raising our children and maintaining our homes and enjoying our friends, it rarely occurs to us to ask “What should we do to prepare for the coming of The Christ?” Nobody is asking the question “What should we do?” NOBODY IS ASKING THE QUESTION “What should we do?” (Someone in the congregation finally asks the question.)
So, what do you hear John calling you to do as you prepare for the coming of the Lord? How do his words speak to you? I don’t mean to step on any toes, but here’s a loose paraphrase to consider:
“You who eat too much, go on a diet. You who drink too much, practice moderation, or abstain altogether. You who work too much, leave the office earlier. You who talk too much, bridle your tongue. You who spend too much, practice frugality. You who worry too much, pray more often. You who give too little, be more generous. You who are egotistical and self-absorbed, focus on the needs of others rather than yourself.”
It is a scary world. Our minds and hearts were recently traumatized by the loss of seven brilliant and brave astronauts. What a sadness. But it is not to diminish their sacrifice to remind us that on the same day 20 died in a bomb explosion in Lagos, an American serviceman was shot in Qatar, an elderly couple burned to death on Chicago’s south side and there was an accident death on the Northwest Tollway.
It is a scary world. A man recounts how lying in bed one night, he finds himself saying, “It is very strange. Here I am lying in bed, and I don’t have a worry in the world. Then the thought came, “That worries me.”
Wouldn’t it be great if you and I could reach the point where worry and anxiety never kept us awake at night, or glued to the television, never left us fatigued of body or distraught of mind, did not haunt our attitudes and activities. How much misery in life is due to the fears that dog, the troubles that plague and will not go away. How many of our physical ills are rooted here? How many mistakes we make in business or relationship because we are hounded by some apprehension, some self-absorption, some lack of clarity of mind.
A column in a California newspaper talks about “Hallowthankmas,” the three month marathon of card sending, party throwing, putting up and taking down decorations, overeating and overbuying.” Says the writer, “Hallowthankmas starts before Halloween, continues through Thanksgiving and Christmas and ends after New Years. (Someone insisted, ‘after the Superbowl). Nobody will admit to liking it, but we seem powerless to dump it.”
So what if we could achieve an inner equanimity that would enable us to sail through such seasons with their hectic pace with a glad heart and serene spirit? Good days and bad, hectic and gray, a deep joy and central peace. And not only in this impossible season, but all the seasons of our lives. What would we put out for that prize?
Well, that’s precisely what the Apostle Paul offers his friends in Philippi long ago. “All joy be yours.” “The peace of God be yours.” Note that he is interested in the mood of his friends. Mood does make a big difference, in how well we function at our labors, in how well we get along with one another, in our attitude toward the world and its future.
And the secret of his offer seems to lie in two words at the heart of his remarks, the words “with thanksgiving.” For this old story and faith, thanksgiving is the one inner dynamic, the one spirit and emotion, that springs us loose for joy and peace and hope.
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