Sunday, December 13, 2020

Homily for Gaudete Sunday/3rd Sunday of Advent

 It ain’t me babe; no, no, no it ain’t me babe.  It ain’t me you’re looking for.

I loved this song as performed by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon in the movie about the life of Johnny and June Cash.  The song was written by Bob Dylan and performed by a group called the Turtles before Johnny and June Cash performed it.  I wonder if any of these performers were thinking about John the Baptist?

We sometimes look to others for our heroes, role models and guides and often we’re looking at the wrong person.  Sometimes the real heroes in our lives don’t fit the stereotype so we anoint another.

As people of faith, do we look to Jesus as our only hope?

We should put today in context.  As our Advent journey arrives as week three the Church asks us to shift focus; to rejoice: Gaudete!  Hence, we see the rose colored vestments and we notice something different in our prayers and our readings.  Today, as we wait in joyful hope, the Church asks us to prepare for Jesus’ coming; yes, as the babe of Bethlehem but also as he comes to us always and will come again!  Remember, He comes in history, in mystery and in majesty!

To help us prepare we are given the example today of John the Baptist whom the people and the leaders wanted to be the messiah.  At least they thought he was.  But John gives us the example we all need to follow even today: point to the one who is the one: Jesus.  Even when John is asked directly: who are you his answer is all about Jesus. 

John tells the people he is a voice crying in the desert; make straight the way of the Lord.  John quotes the prophet Isaiah, who we heard proclaimed here today, testifying that Jesus is the one.

Even in acknowledging his own ministry, for John the Baptist indeed is proclaiming Jesus and baptizing with water, John refocuses on the mission of Jesus; the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.  Of him, John goes on to say that he, a very holy man, is not worthy to untie his sandal strap.  Throughout his mission, throughout his whole life, John identifies “who he is” by proclaiming Jesus.

So as we continue our Advent journey, as Christmas draws near, how are we to respond to today’s Gospel and the example of John the Baptist?  For starters, we can all examine our own lives and ask ourselves, does my very being point others to Jesus?  In my everyday life, do I exude the confidence and hope in Jesus Christ as John the Baptist, did?  Each of us must answer that question in our own time of prayer and reflection in this third week of Advent.  In our prayer time this week, to remember the example of John the Baptist, can we pray the words of the Morning Prayer known as the Benedictus?  In this prayer, John’s father gives thanks for John’s life as even he acknowledges that John comes to proclaim Jesus.  Listen to these words:  “You my child shall be called the prophet of the most high, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.  In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

This is a beautiful prayer to focus on Jesus for the remainder of Advent.

Also, we know that Advent helps us to prepare and what better way to prepare for Jesus then by revisiting the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Let us make straight our paths and prepare the way for Him. 

So remember, whether it’s Bob Dylan or the Turtles or Johnny Cash or even John the Baptist, it ain’t me babe, it ain’t me your looking for!  It’s him; it’s Jesus, who we wait for in joyful hope!

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