daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, 3rd Sunday of Advent, December 11, 2011
Isa. 61:1-2, 10-11, Luke 1, 1 Thess. 5:16-24, John 1:6-8, 19-28

"May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:23).

We are now awaiting the coming of the Lord and are already illuminated by its splendor, which motivates us to reform our life. Therefore we have gone to the desert to hear John the Baptist, to see and imitate his way of life, and to prepare with him the way of the Lord. This is what we are now trying to do: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isa. 40:3-5 KJV).

As we long for the light of his coming, he actually comes to us interiorly in the realm of grace and fills us with splendor. We are now preparing ourselves for an increase of this splendor as we prepare ourselves for his glorious final coming on the clouds of heaven with all his holy ones in great light. We want to be blameless when he comes (1 Thess. 3:13). This luminous coming, which shines even now in our hearts in hope, motivates us to undertake a general moral and spiritual reformation of our life, of our whole way of living. We want to make straight the way of the Lord in our life, to fill in every valley, and make low every mountain and hill in the way we now live, wholly for the Lord; to make the crooked ways straight and the rough places plain. And we want to straighten out our environment too, as best we can, as did John.

We want to live in great gentleness, modesty, and moderation in the desert with John during these days of Advent, for the Lord is near. At the same time we rejoice, for the Christ whose coming we long for is already with us, and his kingdom is within us (Luke 17:21). We therefore rejoice in both the presence and the nearness of the Lord. He is both with us, and we long for his coming, for we hope for an increase of his grace during the Christmas Mass, during all the Masses of the beautiful Advent-Christmas season. Hence St. Paul tells us today, "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" (Phil. 4:4-5 KJV, Entrance Ant.). We should live these days of Advent in quiet, gentle joy, moderation, and modesty in the desert, imitating John the Baptist, who left everything of this world to live for God alone with all his heart. He was preparing himself and his people for the coming of the Lord, and this is how he did it, and so should we do during Advent, following his footsteps.

The Parousia or second coming of Christ in power and glory on the clouds of heaven in great light is always our great inspiration during Advent. "See the Lord coming from afar; his splendor fills the earth" (1st Sunday of Advent, 1st Vespers, Magn. Ant.). We live even now in the reflected splendor of that luminous day as it shines in our hearts, lighting them up with hope. We are now walking in this beautiful inner light, and so we want to make the Lord's way straight in the desert, for that is where we now are to live more intensely for God alone in every aspect of our life, not dividing the love of our heart with any creature. Those who have chosen the more radical way of perfection try to live this way (Matt. 19:21; Luke 14:33; Matt. 13:44-46; 1 Cor. 7:32-34)-for God alone in a most literal way, as did John the Baptist. They want to prepare the way of the Lord in the desert and leave a good example behind them for the encouragement and inspiration of the world.

"The mountains and hills will sing praise to God; all the trees of the forest will clap their hands, for he is coming, the Lord of a kingdom that lasts forever, alleluia" (1st Sunday of Advent, Lauds, Ant.). We are now living in this kingdom of heavenly peace without end that will cover the whole earth. But we are also preparing ourselves for its coming on the last day in power and in manifest glory that every eye shall see. And we are preparing ourselves for an increase of its splendor in our hearts at Christmas time and during the whole Christmas season.

What will this kingdom be like? The king who is coming "shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth" (Zech. 9:10). His peace will be without end, and he will be called, "The Prince of Peace," and his throne shall shine like the sun. "Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end" (Isa. 9:7). "His line shall endure forever, and his throne as long as the sun before me" (Ps. 88:36). "And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth" (Ps. 88:27). Righteousness shall flourish in his days over the entire earth. "In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth" (Ps. 71:7-8 KJV). "His name shall endure forever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall bless themselves in him: all nations shall call him blessed" (Ps. 71:17 KJV).

"And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. And this man shall be the peace" (Mic. 5:4-5 KJV). Our peace shall be in him. He shall be our peace, and he shall extend to the ends of the earth. He shall be called, "The Prince of Peace," a peace that the world cannot give (John 14:27). "He will be great ... and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:32, 33). "His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:14).

On that day "the Lord will become king over all the earth" (Zech. 14:9), and "the whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft upon its site" (Zech. 14:10). On that day God will be exalted over all the earth, and there shall be a great light, and no more night (Isa. 60:20; Rev. 21:25). Then "the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of seven days" (Isa. 30:26). "And there shall be continuous day ... not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light" (Zech. 14:7).

It is for that day, that kingdom, and that great king, the Prince of Peace, that we now prepare ourselves in the desert with John, that we might be blameless in his sight when he comes (1 Thess. 3:13).

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