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3rd Sunday of Advent
December 13th, 2015

 

A Man Named John

 

 

Reading 1
Is 35:1-6a, 10

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to them,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Those whom the LORD has ransomed will return
and enter Zion singing,
crowned with everlasting joy;
they will meet with joy and gladness,
sorrow and mourning will flee.
 

Ps 146:6-7, 8-9, 9-10.

Responsorial Psalm

R. (cf. Is 35:4) Lord, come and save us.
The LORD God keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Lord, come and save us.
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.
R. Lord, come and save us.
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations.
R. Lord, come and save us.

 

Jas 5:7-10

Reading 2

 

Be patient, brothers and sisters,
until the coming of the Lord.
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth,
being patient with it
until it receives the early and the late rains.
You too must be patient.
Make your hearts firm,
because the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another,
that you may not be judged.
Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

 

Mt 11:2-11

Gospel

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ,
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question,
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John,
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.
Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women
there has been none greater than John the Baptist;
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

 

 

His task was only to prepare and announce.  His mission was very external.  He could not reach the cause.  He couldn’t really touch sin, the poisoning, and the human disorientation itself.  He could amend, patch up, and repair.  He could warn, advise, recommend, and urge, but it was like pouring oil and spices over rotten food.  He was not the Christ.  He could not change humanity.  He could only baptize with water.  That is why he started to insist:  “Don’t think that it is me.  Don’t think that I will be able to change you.  I baptize only with water.  Someone else is going to come after me.  He really will change your mind, your heart, your soul, and your body.”  He insisted:  “Please forget about me.  Let me get smaller and smaller.  Let me be forgotten.  It is HE who is going to change you.” This is what John the Baptist said when he first emerged on the scene in scriptures.

 

But in this reading, John is in prison and sends messengers to Jesus to ask "if he is the one who is to come or have we got to wait for someone else?"  That is what prison had done to his mental state, diminished it to the point that he had forgotten who Jesus was.  But John knew that he wasn't the one who was going to change the world, but instead Jesus was, even in his dark prison cell.  I wonder how many of us are hemmed in some kind of a prison, notwithstanding the obvious economic, political, terroristic, and Obamlistic prison that our country is now in, while we wonder if that is ever going to change.

 

This world can change only if people change their attitudes, their minds, and their ways.  I am no less one of those people.  Each day it is a struggle for me to make that decision to change, to reform to the teachings of that man to come, Jesus.  And it is only fire and Spirit that are going to do it.  If we ever needed some fire and Spirit, these days are certainly the right time.  This world, and especially this country, is in more than just a recession in material ways, but most certainly in a moral recession as well. And the only way to remedy this course is through Jesus, our Lord and Savior. 

 

Ultimately, we each decide what Christmas will mean for us.  We must decide how much we will allow ourselves to be influenced by those who see Christmas as simply the biggest merchandising season of the year.  We have to choose what Spirit we will follow during this Advent.  Will we see Advent as a season of preparation for a deeper and wider love for others?  Will we surround ourselves with symbols of Advent and take time for reconciliation, for reading the scriptures and prayer to prepare our hearts for Christ the infant child?  Or will we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with the shopping mall music and the pre-Christmas sales and the Christmas parties that end before Christmas even arrives and all the frantic efforts to buy and wrap and bake and decorate?

 

The alternative is well presented in a Christmas song called, “What Will You Put Under Your Christmas Tree?”  So what will you put under your Christmas tree?  Will it be gifts for the poor, love for the elderly, care for the weak, the sick and suffering?  What will you put under your Christmas tree?  Will it be packages neat, candy to eat, trinkets of gold?  What will you put under your Christmas tree? How about Fire and Spirit.  Let us be willing to receive them.

 

We will have to release ourselves from the prison that we are in.  We can't do too much about the prisons that our government has leashed upon us, both Republican and Democrat, but we can do something about the little prison we are in, that keep us from reaching out to one another in love, to share that much needed Fire and Spirit. Every day I get emails from folks who are trying to do just that, and it is so very hard.  The prisons are many and often times different for each person;  the prison of loneliness, because of the recent loss of a loved one; the prison of uncertainty, not knowing if there is going to be income to make that next house payment or any bills;  the prison of doubt, searching for something, for someone to believe in that will free one from the darkness of sin, not knowing that Jesus is the only one who can do that, not knowing who He even is;  the prison of frustration and desire to just give up, after searching for employment and coming up short each time, time after time after time.  No way to support oneself and family.  These are only a few of the many that face us each day my friends, as many of you know so well.

 

The changes that we look for, those that really make a difference can only come from Jesus, that little infant baby boy, soon to be born unto us.  It is only in Him that there is going to be change, only in him that there is going to be hope.  We must merge our wills to that of his, by letting a feeling of expectancy and anticipation grow among us during these final days of the coming of the Lord, knowing that he will come again in His glory to take us who have been faithful to His word, back to Paradise.

 

May God bless you all this coming week and grace you with good health in mind, body, and spirit.  Continue to put God first in your life, and then others. 

 

© Deacon Steve A. Politte

December 13th, 2015

 

 

A Christmas Easter!


 

It’s wonderful to ponder the Christmas season –
Perhaps to reflect on what it might bring?
Is it really so much about the person –
or in our lives, what He actually means?

The spirit and joy and awe of this time –
is echoed throughout nations aplenty,
and celebrated with much anticipation -
this event that has changed the lives of many.

Hearts seem to be touched as never before –
as we ponder the infants’ mission to come.
That’s when we begin to realize so clearly -
what happened when His childhood was done?

And the mission He came to accomplish –
which, at this time, we don’t surmise,
because it’s overshadowed by His birth –
and not about the cross, on which He had died.

Inclined to journey to a place in time –
led by the Spirit to a dessert land.
It seems to be the place to go –
as the infant grew, from childhood into man.

May we already be graced to know –
that this season of Christmas is just the beginning,
only to be drawn to a place called Calvary –
for that’s where this infant would find His ending.

He lived a life of unconditional love –
the message given on the roads He did trod,
inviting all who would listen, to follow Him -
for our salvation, in the end, He would nod.

And so, as we take a preview of what was to be –
this Christmas Easter began in the crib where He laid,
with Sheppard’s in the field, on that first Christmas eve -
‘for our eternal life’, the price our Infant Savior paid!



Steve A. Politte 

copyright 2005

 


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