Homily for the second Sunday of Advent - Year A - Mt. 3:1-12


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.


"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father"; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.' "





Homily:


"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.' For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, 'The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.' Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey."


"The kingdom of heaven is at hand!" This is what John the Baptist proclaimed to all who came to listen to him. This is what the Church repeats today! For there is no difference between the time of John the Baptist and our own: today, like yesterday, the kingdom of heaven is at hand! It is here, in our midst, within our reach, but invisible... Just as Christ was already present among the men and women who came to listen to the Prophet John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus is in our midst: invisible, unknown, and one might even say ignored.


"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Mt. 18:20) Thus, here, in the midst of the assembly of the faithful, Jesus is present. But we do not see him. Or, at least, we do not see him with the eyes of the body. Similarly, Jesus is present in the sacrament of the Eucharist. But even there we do not see him with the eyes of the body: we need the eyes of faith to see him and to recognize him to be present under the appearances of the Eucharistic bread and wine.


"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth... God is spirit." (Jn. 4:23-24) This is very important: God is spirit! And our spirit must dominate our body! Then, and only then, will we be able to see the Lord present in our midst... If we live a life of faith and of union with God, then we will be worthy to see the Lord in eternity, and even here on earth. John the Baptist said so: "Repent!" And Isaiah before him said: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." (Is. 40:3)


"John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey." John the Baptist was not content to preach repentance to others: he himself lived a hard and austere life. Saint Paul went so far as to say: "I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (1 Cor. 9:27) In this spirit, in order that the world might finally live in Peace, Pope John Paul II asked us to fast on this December 14th: let us think about it and be generous in this effort!


"Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, 'You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, "We have Abraham as our father"; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."


Many people came to John to be baptized by him, but several of the Pharisees and Sadducees, considering themselves to be righteous, did not think they needed a baptism of repentance... Even if they had good reason to consider themselves righteous, these Pharisees and Sadducees had everything to gain by humbling themselves before John to receive his baptism! For who can claim to not need the grace of God? Who can openly say that he does not need the prophets and guides whom the Lord has sent to his People?


John the Baptist prepares for the coming of Christ. Of course, by then, Jesus had already been born: he was approximately thirty years old when John the Baptist was at the apogee of his mission. But, during those thirty years, Jesus led a hidden life, one that was almost invisible. It was thus necessary, one day, for him to be revealed to Israel as the Son of God: it is for this revelation that John the Baptist prepares. Now, who can receive such a revelation if not he who has a humble heart, the heart of a child, the soul and the spirit of a little one? Jesus said, in his teaching: "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes." (Mt. 11:25)


A choice is made, a partition is carried out: some are for Jesus, and the others are against him... There is no alternative. God is good, God is all Love, but God is just. Each person is free to love or to not love God. He who loves God respects his Law and his commandments, he receives his revelation like a little child, he entrusts himself to the omnipotence of the grace of God. Finally, he who loves God will be welcomed by Jesus into his Paradise, gathered as wheat into his granary...


May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us to always make the right choice, the choice that saves and that leads to Paradise! Today, with the heart of a child, let us receive Jesus in his Eucharist: the eyes of faith, simple and welcoming, will allow us to see the Lord present in us, through Mary!



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