Thursday, December 10, 2015

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 3rd Sunday of Advent C, Dec. 13, 2015 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

John the Baptizer is preaching good news to the people—
the Messiah is coming!
And the people are “filled with expectation.”
They are wondering, is John the one?
the Anointed One, the Messiah?
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For over a hundred years before Jesus and over a hundred after,
Judaism saw people step forward to prophesy
and even to take actions that were interpreted as messianic.
The Jewish Messiah could be a king like David or Cyrus the Great.
Isaiah says the Messiah will establish a government in Israel
that will be the center of all world government,
both for Jews and gentiles.
Or the Messiah could be a military leader
who would defeat their enemies
and establish an independent Jewish kingdom,
like Judas Maccabeus who revolted against the Seleucids
to free the Jews from foreign domination,
or like Judas of Galilee, Simon of Peraea, and Athronges,
who fought Rome about the time of Jesus' birth
and were defeated.
Or the Messiah could be a charismatic teacher
who would give the correct interpretation of Mosaic law,
restore Israel, and judge humankind.
Jeremiah prophesies that the Messiah will rebuild the Temple,
re-establish worship in Jerusalem,
restore the religious court system,
and establish Jewish law as the law of the land.
Or the Messiah could mean a holy king
who would deliver the Jews from oppression
and usher in an age of peace and justice
known as an Olam HaBa—
the world to come, the Messianic Age,
the peaceful co-existence of all people
in which hatred, intolerance, and war would cease.
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But none of those types of Messiah come,
not a governmental tyrant or a military leader
or a judgmental religious dictator or a magical deliverer.
God sends and anoints Jesus a priest, a prophet, a king...
but he's not priest, prophet, and king like ever before.
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Today Luke gives us a snapshot of John the Baptizer
as one of the messianic prophets,
telling the crowds he is not the Messiah
and prophesying the coming
of a very harsh and judgmental Messiah.
The people want to be the wheat gathered into the barn,
not the chaff thrown into the fire.
They ask John, “What are we to do?”
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The answer Luke puts in the Baptizer's mouth is startling.
He doesn't tell them to abandon their work
and spend their time in prayer.
He doesn't tell them to go to the synagogue.
He doesn't tell them to put more money in the Temple treasury.
No: Luke has John tell the crowds
the same thing that Jesus will be telling them.
Share your food and your clothes
with people who don't have any.
Put your beliefs into practice in your life.
He doesn't tell tax collectors to quit collecting the taxes.
He tells them to be honest—
not to take more than the going rate.
He doesn't tell soldiers to quit the army.
He tells them to be honest and not take bribes;
he tells them to be fair
and not accuse people of things they haven't done.
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Preparing for the coming of the Messiah
is very different from what they expected.
It's not preparing for war against the Romans.
It's not insisting on expensive sacrifices in the Temple.
It's something everyone can do right where they are,
and they are filled with expectation.
Imagine that: business people would be honest and fair!
Police would people with dignity and respect!
Everyone would develop
a sense of fairness and justice and responsibility for others!
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Throughout this advent season
we prepare once again to celebrate the first coming,
the birth of the Messiah, the Holy One of God.
We still look forward to the Second Coming,
the time when all creation will reach spiritual maturity
and learn to live in peace with justice.
In this meantime, we experience a Third Coming—
the coming of Jesus in our daily lives.
Jesus comes again
every time we share our bounty with people in need.
He comes among us
every time we treat people with honesty and fairness.
He walks with us along the Way.

--
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

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