(Homily for December 11, 2016. Third Sunday of Advent. Year A.)
Bible Study: Isaiah 35, 1 to 10. James 5, 7 to 10 and Matthew 11, 2 to 11.
Since the beginning of Advent, the themes of our Sunday readings have centred on how we are to prepare for the coming of Christ. On the First Sunday, the emphasis was on spiritual vigilance while the Second Sunday was on the need for us to change our hearts and be converted so that Christ may find in us a pure dwelling place when he comes. On this third Sunday of Advent, also called GAUDATE SUNDAY meaning: REJOICE SUNDAY, our readings literally beckon on us to put on us to rejoice and be happy because of Christ’s coming.
It is time to put on your dancing shoes and let the celebration begin for God is about to do something great and marvellous in our eyes. The prophet Isaiah says to us this morning: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the dessert shall rejoice and blossom; like the lily it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing…”
When we look around us, we cannot but notice a lot of frustrating circumstances that tend to limit or probably cut off our happiness, the state of insecurity in the country, the harsh economic recession which is pushing many to commit acts of man’s inhumanity to man. Not too long ago, a seven year old boy was beaten to pulp and burnt to death just because he was accused of stealing Garri to take care of his hunger in a time of recession like this. The only thing that makes us proud as a country is football, yet our girls having won the African Cup are being told there is no money to pay their allowances and bonuses while our Senators who do not seem to understand the meaning of recession are cruising away in millions of naira.
Recently there was an attack on Christians in Southern Kaduna but instead of the Governor to bring those behind the attack to justice, he went to share huge sums of money to them as if to placate or rather congratulate them for the genocide thereby proving to the world that we have a government who not only cannot secure its citizens but is totally biased towards a certain group of people; the Fulani to be precise.
In the midst of all these, our readings today call us to be happy rather than being fearful and hopeless. In fact, to use the very words of Isaiah: “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, Be Strong, Fear Not! Behold your God will come with vengeance… He will come and save you.” Dear friends in Christ, this is the message for us today. Fear not! No matter how bad things may be in this country, GOD does not, will not, has never and will never ABANDON US. Christmas is the assurance we need to know that God still cares for our troubled world. Christmas draws our attention to the God who choose to dwell among men to help men solve their problems.
Do you know that if Christ was never born, things would have been a lot worse today? Who knows if any of us would have been alive at all? So we have to rejoice, we have to happy. We are happy not only because Christmas is fourteen days from now, but because we have HOPE. Hope that with Christ dwelling among us, our problems will not last forever, hope that we can always talk to the baby Jesus without fear because as we know, babies are harmless, precious to behold and ready to do anything they are told. This is what God achieves at Christmas, humbling himself to come as a baby that we might FREELY approach him.
James adds his voice to this hope that should be in us by using the analogy of the Farmer who waits patiently after planting for the earth to bear its fruit. He says: “You also be patient. Establish you hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at Hand. Do not grumble…” Enough of all grumblings and complaining about the state of the Nation or even about the state of Christianity today. Let us celebrate the hope we have.
John the Baptist was in Prison when he sent people to confirm from Jesus if he was really the expected Messiah. Note that this was the same John the Baptist who introduced Jesus to the world saying: “Behold the Lamb of God.” the same john the Baptist that did not complain when two of his disciples left him and started following Jesus. The same man who said: “I must decrease and he must increase.” Now, he is in prison and his faith is shaking, he has begun to wonder why Jesus is not doing anything about rescuing him from prison. This is exactly what happens to us, when we are in crisis, we begin to ask if God still cares about us.
But Jesus sent words back to John the Baptist saying: “Go and tell John what you see and hear: the blind receive their sight and the lam walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offence at me.” Indeed, blessed is the man who refuses to take offence at God because things are hard for him. Blessed are we when we can rejoice despite our situation, despite our economic meltdown. Blessed are we that we can still sing praises to God even when things are difficult.
Rejoice, cast off all your worries aside, just rejoice in the Lord. Be happy for the coming of God into our life and situation. And if you are really really down, I tell you a secret to quickly activate your happiness. REACH OUT TO ANY SAD PERSON YOU CAN FIND AND MAKE THE PERSON HAPPY. Reach out to the poor ones in your midst, reach out to the lonely, the unloved, those abandoned in the hospitals, those in prisons, those who have no father or mother, bring joy to them and I tell you, the measure you give out is what you would receive and double as well.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, fill me with joy that I may bring joy to the world as well. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. Happy Sunday