Homily for the third Sunday of Advent - Year C - Lk. 3:10-18


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"The multitudes asked John, 'What then shall we do?' And he answered them, 'He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.' Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, 'Teacher, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Collect no more than is appointed you.' Soldiers also asked him, 'And we, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.'


"As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, John answered them all, 'I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.'


"So, with many other exhortations, he preached good news to the people."





Homily:


"The multitudes asked John, 'What then shall we do?' "


John the Baptist had just announced his mission to a few Jews who had come to listen to him. He had declared to them that his role consisted in preparing for the coming of the Messiah with a baptism of repentance: "He went into all the region about the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." (Lk. 3:3) Everyone was to prepare for this coming, for this meeting with the Lord: their hearts and souls, along with their bodies and the entire world, were to be made ready to appear before He who IS, the Eternal, the Creator of all things in Heaven and on earth!


The power of his word had convinced quite a few people, for who can resist the Word of God? In fact, only he who does not want to listen to the Word of God, or he who stops listening to it, strays onto the way of perdition. For everything depends upon one's will: man either does or does not want God to come and save him from his sins. If he is willing, then the grace of God gives man the power and strength necessary to obtain salvation. But if he is unwilling, then this grace is lost... John the Baptist preaches and proclaims the coming of the Messiah and those who want to carefully prepare for this event cry out with one voice: "What then shall we do?"


A few years later, another man, a fisherman of Galilee named Simon Peter, also preached the coming of the Messiah. It was on Pentecost, fifty days after Passover. Peter proclaimed the coming of the risen Christ: he said that he had already come, that he had been crucified, that he had risen from the dead, and that he had gone away in order for the Holy Spirit to come, that "other Counselor" (Jn. 14:15), that other Christ! "When they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: 'Brethren, what shall we do?' " (Acts 2:37)


"And he answered them, 'He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.' Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, 'Teacher, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Collect no more than is appointed you.' Soldiers also asked him, 'And we, what shall we do?' And he said to them, 'Rob no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.' "


John the Baptist replies to everyone by saying: practice justice! It is not charity that John the Baptist tells them to put into practice, but rather justice. For the coming of the Lord judges all our acts: Christ is coming and, when he comes, he will reward the good and punish the guilty. So, to prepare for the coming of the Lord, we must practice justice while we still have the opportunity to do so. For, later, it will be too late. The coming of the Lord, about two thousand years ago, has already brought humanity into what Saint Paul calls "the fullness of time" (Gal. 4:4). This means that the judgement is already a reality and that the justice of God must be put into practice by all the men and women of the earth. The more that justice is practiced by men during their life on earth, the more that the Glory of God will shine in them for all eternity in Heaven!


We are already in the time of justice! Let us not forget this! Moreover, He whose mission is to remind us of all the words of the Lord - namely, the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn. 14:26) - cannot fail to put our memory into action on this subject, for it is the Spirit of God, the Spirit who came on Pentecost, who is already judging the world: "And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged." (Jn. 16:8-11)


"As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, John answered them all, 'I baptize you with water; but he who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.' "


John the Baptist does not hesitate to humble himself before everyone present: he knows that he is not the Messiah! For he is not the supreme Judge: he is but a man, not God! Only God can judge the world, only God can send to the earth the retributive fire of his Spirit! "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." John baptizes with water, water which purifies and which prepares hearts for the coming of the Messiah. But Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire, a fire that punishes the guilty: those who do not want to believe in him, or who stop believing... "His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."


Let us listen to John the Baptist! Let us, too, practice the justice of God! Let us recognize the Lord when he is present! When we communicate of the Bread of Life, the food that is the fruit of the Love of God, let us not forget that it is the Lord whom we are receiving in us - for, in this too, more than in anything else, Christ judges us: "Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself." (1 Cor. 11:28-29) So let us watch ourselves, let us be vigilant but confident: let us have confidence in Mary, the Mother of us all!



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