daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Friday, 3rd Week of Advent, December 16, 2011
Isa. 56:1-3, 6-8, Ps. 66, John 5:33-36

"Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed" (Isa. 56:1 KJV).

The Israelites longed for the coming of the salvation and the righteousness of the Lord to the earth. They longed to be saved and made righteous-justified. This hope was fulfilled when the Messiah came. Jesus Christ came into the world and brought it the salvation and righteousness it longed for.

John the Baptist was the final prophet, the one who prepared in the desert the way of the Lord, so that all flesh might see together the revelation of his glory. John "was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light" (John 5:35). He fulfilled the role of Elijah, who was to return before the day of the Lord to "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers" (Mal. 4:6). John was "a burning and shining lamp" (John 5:35) precisely because he was fulfilling the role of Elijah, who was like a fire: "Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire, and his word burned like a torch" (Sir. 48:1). The angel Gabriel said to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, that his son "will go before him [God] in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared" (Luke 1:17). And Jesus said about John, "If you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come" (Matt. 11:14).

During Advent we go to the desert with John to prepare the way of the Lord. God's righteousness and salvation have come in Jesus Christ. We now live in his righteousness. We are justified by the death of Christ on the cross through our faith in him, and illuminated by the splendor of his resurrection. We therefore walk in the light of Christ and try to make it manifest to all parts of the world for the illumination and salvation of all who hear us with faith. Yet like the Jews and John, we too still long for the coming of the Lord. We long for it in his Parousia on the clouds of heaven with all his holy ones in great light. It is for this, for this great manifestation of the glory of God, that we now prepare ourselves in the desert with John, who is our guide, our "burning and shining lamp" (John 5:35). While we hope and prepare ourselves for this with joyful expectation, Christ comes into our heart and illuminates it with his splendor. We hope for this coming at Christmas, when we celebrate his first coming into the world, which brought us his righteousness and salvation, which make us resplendent in his sight, and in reality.

Following John the Baptist in the desert, living only for God with all our heart and with all our actions and with all our time, we can reflect to everyone the light of Christ in which we live, and be, like John, "a burning and shining lamp" (John 5:5). We will thus be lights in the world that shine in the darkness "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation" (Phil. 2:15). Thus we will be witnesses of Christ in the world, showing the way of salvation to those who are lost. So we invite all to live in the light, in the salvation and righteousness of the Lord, which Jesus Christ brought into the world when he was born among us in Bethlehem.

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