Homily (2) Third Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReading: 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.
Expecting the Lord with Joy!
When we expect an important guest or an appointment, there is always that natural tendency or social protocol, to call back and forth in order to confirm the arrival of our guest or confirm our appointments. When our guest finally arrives or appointment successfully met it brings us joy and happiness. Advent, from Week 1 continues to communicate these elements of hope, expectation, joy and happiness. The joyful mysteries!
Saint Paul puts it well in today’s second reading. He says, “Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing. Give thanks to God in every circumstances.” Even though this is Advent, we must make it a joyful and a prayerful Advent. What brings us joy and happiness during Advent is the fact that Our Lord is near; the birth of our Savior is at hand. He comes to free us. He comes to forgive us. He comes to liberate us. He comes to bless us. He comes with peace and justice lacking in the world and in our families today. This is emphasis over and over again in today’s bible readings, particularly through the examples of the prophet Isaiah, Saint Paul and his Community, John the Baptist and of course, our Blessed Virgin Mary.
Today’s first reading “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)”, often cited by Luke 4:18-21 as the inaugural address of Jesus, gives us joy. It reminds us of the sending of the prophet, the role of the prophets, in this case 3rd Isaiah, the conscience of the people, the defender of the defenseless, protector of the poor, and precursor/source/channel/conduit of joy to the people!
Our mother Mary sings the joy that the birth of her son, Our Lord brings at Christmas, through the Magnificat (Luke 1:46–48, 49–50, 53–54) which as our responsorial psalm today. Think of what Mary had to go through from her immaculate conception, betrothed to Joseph, her mysterious encounter with the Lord, through the Angel Gabriel. Although there were moment of sorrowful mysteries in Mary’s life, today Mary prays the joyful mysteries because of the nearness of the Lord. That which was told her, as poor and lowly as she was, has been fulfilled. She became the mother of our Savior. To have Christ is to have joy, unhappiness sets in when we lose Christ. Mary through the joyful mysteries is an example one who possess Christ through listening obedience to the will of God, love of one’s neighbor, purity of mind and body, poverty of the spirit and humility to serve others, as she visited her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant with John the Baptist. At Mary’s visit, John the Baptist who was few months older than Jesus, imitated the mother, Elizabeth joyfully honoring Mary and her son, Jesus. Recalled, John the Baptist leapt in her mother’s womb when Mary visited her.
In the Gospel of John, the same leaping John the Baptist insist joyfully in that humility. He baptizes with water, but the one coming after him at Christmas, namely Our Savior will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John is not even worthy to untie the strap Jesus’ sandals. What a humility! Unless we forget ourselves and not so much be consumed in our ego, we will not be able to know and serve and have Christ who is the true source of joy and happiness! Advent, especially in a today’s world of isolationism, is a time we reach out to our neighbors, support one another, pray for one another, and bear one another’s burden.
Advent is time we rejoice and try to be a source of joy to one another. It is a time we strive to imitate Israel’s prophets, the missionary zeal of Paul, John the Baptist, and importantly our mother Mary who knew how to expect her baby Jesus with joy, and who expresses that joy in the joyful mysteries, and at the birth of her son. As we joyfully expect Christ at Christmas, may we daily pray the joyful mysteries(the annunciation, the visitation, the nativity, the presentation and the finding of Jesus in the temple) radiate that joy and happiness in our neighborhood, churches, dioceses, parishes, stations, schools, offices, homes and places of work!