Monday, December 5, 2011

Homily Third Sunday of Advent Year B. Fr .Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily Third Sunday of Advent Year B- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Reading: Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11; Ps /Luke 1:46-50, 53-54; 1 Thes 5:16-24 and John 1:6-8, 19-28.

Advent:  Season of Favor- Spirit of Joy in Christ!

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God….”( Isa 61:1-2a).

These are words from the Prophet Isaiah, Trito- Isaiah, after the exile. It is a song of joy and a  message of salvation. This prophecy  brings goodness and glad tidings to the poor. It brings relief to the oppressed and the brokenhearted. It celebrates salvation as a gift and envisions the ministry of Jesus as a fulfillment of the experience of Suffering Servant ((Isa 40–55). And no wonder Jesus in Luke chapter 4:17-19, in the beginning of his ministry, would pick up the scroll in the synagogue of Nazareth and read this same very passage from Prophet Isaiah “the spirit of the Lord is upon….”

Interestingly, Isaiah did not stop here. He went on (as Mary would in today’s Responsorial Psalm) to say, “My soul rejoices in the Lord… for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice...” (Isa 61:10-11).

 My brothers and sisters, as you all know, Advent which began two Sunday’s ago not only introduced the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal, but many pious and sacred adjectives have been used to qualify it. Many have called it “a Season of Hope;” others, a period of prayer, some, a time of comfort and expectation.  I want to invite you all today, in the Light of Scripture passages just read, to reflect with me on the theme: “Advent, a Season of Favor filled with the Spirit of Joy in Christ.”

Each of us would have to ask ourselves, what gives me joy? What makes me happy? Or how do I respond to the many favors I have received from God, family, friends and neighbors?  What about the gift of my particular vocation, here in the seminary, my marriage, my family and friendship; the gifts of priesthood?

For the members of the restored community, the source of their joy was not far-fetched. The year of the Lord’s favor, the season of grace and justice had begun for them when they heard the announcement of their release  and freedom from Babylonian captivity and return to their homeland. This liberty put smiles on their faces. Last Sunday we heard from Deutero-Isaiah,“comfort, give comfort, to my people…” They have received this comfort and healing for those years of their broken hearts.  Today, they now live under the umbrella of the good news of freedom, the glad tidings of joy, liberty, forgiveness of sin fulfilled in Christ Jesus.

All the favors Mary received from the Lord; be it the visit of Elizabeth  or that of the Angel Gabriel, Mary has always responded to them with a sense of praise and gratitude. This is demonstrated in today's Responsorial Psalm, when Mary sings, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord..,” (Luke 1:46-54), a theme that we have constantly revisited during the course of this school year, here in our Seminary.

My brothers and sisters,praise, joy and thankfulness are natural responses to grace, especially grace that has been personally received and experienced. I had minor surgery a few days ago at Wheaton Franciscan – Elmbrook Memorial Hospital. I am surprise that I am here today. I Thought I would need 2-3 weeks to be back here, but here I am. With this I am joyful. I am grateful to God, the source of all favors.

Upon many gifts that many of us have received since the beginning of this year, we really want to pay particular attention also to what John the Baptist says to the Priests, the Levites of Jerusalem and  to the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, “there is one among you whom you do not recognize,” ( John 1:6-8; 19-28).  This is the one who will baptize not only with ordinary water, but with the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” This Spirit was there with Christ at his baptism. It was there as he began his ministry  and throughout the course of his ministry. After his resurrection, before ascension he left the same gift of the Holy Spirit with us, the Church. The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Us!!!!

Sometimes it is very easy for us to be carried away by our successes, by the external rush for Christmas trees, and the busyness of family shopping. In weeks and days leading to Christmas, it is very easy for us to pass-by Jesus in the poor members of our communities, in the sick, in the destitute and even in our colleagues,  friends, and neighbors, without noticing, because we are very busy with other material preparations.

Also for any seminarian , professor, staff and  administration, the last days of any academic semester, the period around the Third Sunday of Advent, can also be so overwhelming with examinations, papers and projects to turn-in or to read.  Each of these exercises, including the celebration of salvation, must not be done in isolation from Christ, the Savior,. We want to allow ourselves in all our activities, be it here in our Seminary/Parish Community, or at home to be anointed by the Spirit of the Lord- the Spirit of patience, endurance, hope, forgiveness, peace and love.

Finally let us subscribe to St. Paul pieces of advise in  1 Thessalonian 5:26, which says,
 “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus… the one who calls you is faithful and he will also bring it to fulfillment,” (cf PPF 5, n.375).