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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Advent 3 - Homily

Gospel: Matthew 11:2-10

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The messenger who is sent by the Lord to the people is not who they expect to see. He is not advertised on billboards. He does not preach steps to a successful life or even the purpose-driven life. He is sent before the Face of the Lord to point people to the Coming One. He does not live the comfortable life-style nor is dressed with the clothing of Kings. He is in prison and will soon die. Yet He is sent by Jesus who says, "blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." If people come to church only to see people or be seen by them then Jesus says they are not blessed of God. The prophets, apostles and evangelists, the preachers of today are those whom Jesus sends to speak comfort to the people of God. They are sent by the Lord of the Church to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins. The Lord is coming! He is coming to Judge the world and He is coming to bring His salvation. Do not be fooled by John's appearance or his clothing or the fact that he is in prison awaiting death. He is the one who sends his disciples to Jesus saying, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?" He does not wallow because he is in prison. He is always looking for the Coming One and leading the people to always look for the Coming One; pointing to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This is the Messiah, the Suffering Servant who will die on the cross for the sins of the world. Jesus says, "blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." Blessed because they see with the eyes of faith. Blessed because they are not fooled by the outward appearances of success. They see the cross and the suffering and the death and know the Face of the Lord and His salvation.

John is the ultimate prophet, the prophet of prophets. Not only does he fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament as the last and greatest prophet, he recognizes Jesus while still in the womb. What does the Coming One do so that John's disciples may also see? "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them." Jesus brings the mercy of God to the bodies and souls of people. Still, John does not appear blessed by the Lord. While John is in prison Jesus calls him the greatest among those born of women. He is the one chosen by God to baptize Jesus. Jesus speaks the words of the prophet Malachi: "Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me." He preaches Jesus and baptizes Him. He knows Jesus and points people to Him. John is ready to die blessed of the Lord. The road is prepared and Jesus comes healing, preaching the gospel, bringing the forgiveness of sins and comfort to people who labor and are heavy laden. He comes into the world born of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the songs of praise of the angels. He calls John an angel as He does every priest and pastor who faithfully proclaims the word of God and points people to Jesus - Jesus coming in the flesh, Jesus dying on the cross, rising and ascending, Jesus coming in His Word and in His Body and Blood, Jesus coming again. "I am with you even to the end of the age."

Jesus came as John predicted and took away your sins. This is the message of the cross, Christ crucified. John suffered all that people would see Christ. Jesus sends His apostles and the Church lives and thrives on the apostolic teaching. He gives the church His holy Supper and the church feeds on Christ being prepared by His forgiveness for His second coming. He sends pastors into the Church throughout the world and they are sent to speak His comfort to you. Your sins are paid for. They are forgiven. There is no longer warfare between you and God. God has sought you, His beloved Creation, and renewed you, bringing you back to Himself. So the Apostle writes, in effect, of the nature of pastors who are "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God." They are judged by the Lord. Until the Lord comes these are the men through whom you hear the Shepherd's voice and come to know the Shepherd. They have nothing but the word of God and water and bread and wine to keep Christ's Church fed and satisfied and ready for the glorious coming of the Lord. They have nothing but His invitation to share with people as they point to the feast at the altar: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Jesus says, "blessed is he who is not offended because of Me." Christ is coming again. The Holy things are here for the holy ones. You are indeed the blessed ones of God. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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