Saturday, December 13, 2014

Dec. 14, 2014: 3rd Sunday of Advent B

Click to hear Audio Homily
This past Friday we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which commemorates the apparition of Blessed Mother more than 500 years ago to the Aztec indians in the area now known as Mexico City.  She brought the good news of her Son Jesus to the people who did not yet know the love of God. One year I celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe’s feast day at an unusual place -- Dixon Correctional Facility. It was supposed to be the "Christmas" mass and party for the inmates.  I don't know what came over me, but during the homily I got on top of a chair and preached very lively. As I preached, the inmates were saying, "Amen, brother! Preach it!"

Have you ever done something like that for Jesus? This week, the children of our parish presented for us a beautiful Christmas musical. The main song of that musical was also the title of the musical. And the song goes like this:
Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain,
That Jesus Christ is born.

The message in the hymn is that it’s imperative or vitally important that someone goes and tells  the good news. So when we hear that song, who is that someone that is directed to tell the news? You! You go tell it! Where should I go tell it? Where people can hear you, like on a hilltop or a mountain top. But what news should I go tell? About Jesus Christ being born! And some of us would say, “Well, why should I?” There lies the question we have to ponder each and every day. Do we know what Jesus has done for us in our lives? Are we grateful for what he has done in our lives. If we are grateful, then we will be grateful enough to tell someone about him, even getting on top of a chair and proclaim him to those who are still imprisoned.

Like John the Baptist, I’m not worthy even to touch the sandals of Jesus. I was a nobody, who despised Jesus and God; I was a rebellious teenager and a blatant sinner as a young man. But I was miserable tied to the sins of my flesh. Out of desperation I cried out to God whom I did not believe in. Then it happened. God came to my help and rescued me. I found again joy in my heart! That’s why like Blessed Mother in today’s Responsorial Psalm I said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior!”

This week during penance services at our area churches, I heard the following phrase from many folks who came to confessions. “Someone or some situation robbed me of my joy.” What are we to do if we allowed someone or some situation to steal the joy in our hearts? Our Lady of Medjugorje had this advice:
“Dear children! Rejoice with me! My heart is rejoicing because of Jesus and today I want to give Him to you. Dear children, I want each one of you to open your heart to Jesus and I will give Him to you with love. Dear children, I want Him to change you, to teach you and to protect you. Today I am praying in a special way for each one of you and I am presenting you to God so He will manifest Himself in you. I am calling you to sincere prayer with the heart so that every prayer of yours may be an encounter with God. In your work and in your everyday life, put God in the first place."
Today is the Third Sunday of Advent, called Gaudete Sunday, the Sunday of joy. We are invited to rejoice. Why? Because the Lord is near. Christmas is near. Pope Francis said that the Church is not a haven for sad people but a joyful home! “The joy of the Gospel consists in knowing one is welcomed and loved by God, who comes to save us and who seeks to help, especially those who are fearful of heart. His coming among us strengthens us, makes us steadfast, gives us courage and, when our lives become arid, makes the desert and the steppe rejoice and blossom...God gives us the strength to go forward. God is always with us in order to help us go forward.”

Can you think of something that God has done for you personally that brought joy back in your life? Have you thanked God for it?  Like John the Baptist, are you ready to tell others about Jesus and the peace and joy he will bring them?