Introduction: The greatest Advent hero, John the Baptist is praised today by the Lord, because of his steadfastness and determination, because of his absolute commitment to the TRUTH. He is not the reed shaken by the wind; he is not looking searching for a comfortable life. His mission is to give the testimony to the truth. And myself, in my life ??? What is my position in front of the truth?
Penitential rite: Let us recognize that very often we compromise; we betray and deny the truth because of our small personal reasons.
- Lord Jesus, you came as the final Truth, the straight Way and the eternal Life; give us the strength to change our life according to your truth, Lord have mercy,
- Christ Jesus, you were the ultimate witness to the truth and you died for the truth; help us to recognize in you the final goal of our life, Christ have mercy,
- Lord Jesus, you invite us to gain the freedom by knowing the truth, protect us against the freedom which compromise the truth, Lord have mercy,
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
Today we are celebrating the Gaudete or Rejoice Sunday or we can even say the Hope Sunday. In these final weeks of Advent we wait upon the Lord with hope that He will finally come to lift us up from our human miseries and sins. He alone can open the door of freedom. He alone can lift us from sadness to light.
About sixteen years ago a priest received a very unusual request: A young woman asked him if he would help her get rid of her unborn child. The priest was obviously surprised, but he tried not to react negatively. "Why do you want to end your pregnancy?" he asked. She replied that when she told her boyfriend, he said he was going to leave her. She loved him and desperately wanted him back.
The priest resisted the temptation to say, "your boyfriend is a rat." Instead he asked her to do three things: First, to allow the priest to pray with her and bless the baby. Second, to see a medical professional that he knew. And, third, to watch a short video. The video showed the development of the human embryo.
After she left, the priest thought about the young woman and wondered what she would do. In his room he had a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He noticed the black ribbon below her folded hands and he remembered that the ribbon signified pregnancy. The child within her, of course, is Jesus. The priest asked Our Lady to help that young woman.
A month or so passed. The priest heard a knock on his office door. When he opened the door, he saw a shy, smiling face. It was the young woman. She told the priest she had decided to keep her baby.
A year later he saw her again. She was holding a lovely baby girl. After some conversation, the priest asked her, "Would you give up your baby for anything?" "No," she said, "she is my treasure." The girl is now a teenager. She lives with her mom and grandmother. In their home they have a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe that the priest gave to mom.
By a nice coincidence, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe falls on the Third Sunday of Advent. The readings show God transforming despair into joy. He did it when he "ransomed" the Israelites and crowned them with everlasting joy. He did it for John as he sat in the darkness of Herod's prison. He did it for the Aztec people when he sent them a beautiful lady. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe brought them immense consolation and hope.
He was quite a sight, this John the Baptist. He wore clothes of camel hair, and had a leather belt around his waste. His food was locusts and wild honey. He told people things that they may not have wanted to hear. He told everyone that they needed to repent. He called people sinners. And yet they crowded around him. They went out into the desert to hear him. They were mystified by John’s words because they were straight forward and true. John didn’t care about anything other than the truth. Truth is the ultimate value which cannot be compromised. What is the value of the truth nowadays? Everything and everybody has its price the truth also!
People were sick of a world where every fact could be bent a dozen ways to serve the interest of the speaker. They were sick of the Romans and the Greeks using their adroitness with language to twist the law or to twist logic to justify horrible, abominable actions. They were sick of the Temple priests, and the Jewish religious parties, the Sadducees and Pharisees, using religion for their own gain. They just wanted they truth. It attracted them. John fascinated them because he was not afraid of the truth.
The facts, the reality is not much different now than it was back in Jesus’ day. The way that people form their own concepts of reality was no different in Jesus’ day than it is now. Every fact could be bent a dozen ways to serve the interest of the speaker. Politicians are using their adroitness with language to twist the law or to twist logic to justify horrible, abominable actions. People are still moulding facts to suit their desires and needs. People are still using religion for their own personal gain. The truth is still very hard to find in our world. Even in the church and among the Catholics.
We are sick with the twisters and the jongleurs of words. We are sick with the politicians searching only the voters, we are sick with greedy international companies looking only for their business, we are sick with all those who bend and wave the truth for their private and egoistic purposes.
We have to listen to John the Baptist, who is the voice crying out in the wilderness and we have to listen to Jesus Christ, who is the Truth, the Way and the Life. Otherwise we will be misguided by the malicious cleverness of the word magicians.
We have all witnessed family, friends and neighbours twisting truths to justify every abominable action imaginable. Books are available that justify every sort of outrage. Many people have discarded the belief that we will be judged by God according to our actions. They would rather see God as some sort of a Barney that will sing "I love you, you love me" to us for all eternity even if we spent significant portions of our lives singing to God, "I hate you and all you demand of me." The concept of universal laws has been rejected. The concept of ultimate Truth (which is Jesus Christ) has been exchanged for the treacherous concept of tolerance.
It was brushed aside by a misuse of the word "values" so that the Ten Commandments have really been turned into the ten suggestions. Many college professors report that nearly all of the students who enter the classroom believe that the truth is relative. Why then should be so surprised that the truth is whatever people want it to be? What do we want to hear when we come to Church? Do we come to hear a priest saying that sin doesn’t exist, or that maybe for us this or that sin doesn’t really matter? Or are we attracted to the Church because we are good people and we want to hear the truth no matter how popular or unpopular it may be?
I am convinced that we go to Church because we are good people, who want to be better people. I am convinced that we go to Church because like the people who went out into the desert to see John the Baptizer, we are attracted by the truth. I am convinced that we go to Church because like the people of Jesus’ day, we are disgusted with those elements of society that pervert truth to serve their own needs. More than this, I am convinced that all of us want to be freed of the darkness within ourselves that threatens to enslave us in our own selfishness. The truth alone can set us free.
This truth that sets us free is more than a concept. It is the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit. "I am the way, the truth and the life."
Prayer of faithful: We rejoice, but we are also aware of the necessity of repenting and changing of our lives. Jesus Christ is the joy and happiness of all who look forward for His coming. So let us ask our Saviour and Redeemer for necessary graces for the church, for our parish and for all our families.
O God our Creator and Redeemer, Jesus Christ is the Truth and the light which shines in the darkness of our lives; we rejoice in the gifts of Your love and Truth given to us through His Life, Passion and Resurrection. Because He is Your Son, the King of Truth and the Prince of Peace, and with You and the Holy Spirit He lives and reigns forever and ever.