2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C (2021): Bar 5:1-9; Lk 3:1-6
Sunday, December 5, 2021
Homily Notes for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C (2021): Bar 5:1-9; Lk 3:1-6
· Many of the prophets of the Old Testament either made excuses to God as to why they should not be chosen as prophets or they ran away from God as fast as they could when they heard the Lord calling!
· When Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord of Hosts in the Temple crying out Holy, Holy, Holy, he pleaded with God to choose another to be prophet in his place since he said he was a man of unclean lips and unworthy of the task. When Amos was called to preach against the sins of Israel, he declared he was but a dresser of sycamore trees and no professional prophet by trade. Jeremiah, of whose secretary Baruch we heard from in the First Reading, repeatedly asked God to remove the yoke of prophecy from his shoulders for his crushing weight. Jonah had the most dramatic response, running away as fast as he could, getting on a boat and sailing as a far away as he could from God, only to be eaten by a whale and vomited back on dry land to begin his prophetic mission among the people of Nineveh.
· It is understandable why these prophets pleaded with God to reconsider or tried to ran away! They realized the mission they were given was dire, filled with a lot of personal suffering, the certainty of being rejected and mocked by their audience and more often than not being put to death for speaking the hard truths few wanted, but needed, to hear. To be a prophet was not to obtain a position of power, honour and human respect, instead it was to be persecuted, slandered, belittled and killed.
· St John the Baptist had a different response to the prophetic call. Instead of asking God to excuse him from the task or running away from the Lord, he instead ran towards God to find Him in the desert wilderness, leaving behind a life that could have brought him much power, wealth and prestige had he followed in the footsteps of his father Zechariah, entering the priesthood of Israel, having a wife and family and even rising to the rank of High Priest on account of being born into the priestly tribe of Levi and given that his father had served in this position 30 or so years before.
· What made the Baptist different in his response? Some theologians have suggested that during the Visitation of Mary and Elizabeth, when John leaped for joy in his mother’s womb, it was because at that moment the Holy Spirit granted him a special grace of removing Original Sin from his soul, equipping him to undertake the prophetic call to prepare the Way of the Lord and help bring to fulfillment what had been spoken by the scribe Baruch, that symbolically “every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low and the valleys filled up” to allow the People of God to walk safely in the glory of God that would come in the Cross and Resurrection.
· This special grace would also allow the Baptist to endure all the trials and tribulations that would come from being the last and greatest of all the prophets, though at the cost of John knowing great persecution and death at the hands of Herod, just like the prophets of old.
· By virtue of our baptisms, when we too were set free from the bondage of Original Sin, we were also given the charism of being a prophet in bearing witness to our faith. Our prophetic call will unlikely be as grandiose as that of an Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jonah or John the Baptist but it will be a sharing in that call to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.
· It maybe that when we feel God is calling us to be a prophet, we respond with reasons why we are ill prepared to do so and or even try to run away from the Lord! This is a reasonable response given that many prophets before and after us have done the same, but the biblical prophets and many of those of the past 2000 years eventually said yes to the Lord and set out on the mission He had in store for them. So too let us ask for the grace that if our initial response to God’s call is to excuse ourselves from his work or run as fast as we can, that we recollect ourselves and in a spirit of trust say yes Lord your will be done in my life, help me to be the prophet you have called me to be!
· Or we might be like the Baptist, without hesitation saying yes Lord, choose me, I am ready, and while as Frodo Baggins once said it is a dangerous thing to step your front door, as your never know where the road might take you, we know that God is with us and will provide the right words and actions and strength to carry out the plans he has for us and those we will prophesy too.
· We may never have thought ourselves as a prophet yet in small and great ways you and I are called to this vocation in Christ. Let us ask all the holy prophets who have gone before us to intercede on our behalf and be confident that we can be the prophets God wants us to be.