Third Sunday Of Advent C
In last week’s reflection on the Gospel, Father Bill challenged us to do more. Do something extra to help grow our faith through our prayer life. Read the bible on a regular basis. Pray the Rosary. Donate time to any of our outreach programs or in Eucharistic Adoration in our new chapel.
As people of faith, we know we can always do more. We are all busy but our prayer life has to be a priority. As Christians, we want to strengthen our relationship with Christ and in turn with God, our heavenly Father. By being diligent in our prayer and continually speaking with God, we are working towards perfection in faith. We may never, in our minds, reach perfection, but God doesn’t care about perfection. What He does care about is us and our relationship with Him.
Our prayer can come in many forms as I mentioned a second ago. We have formal prayer, the act of sitting and reciting what we’ve been taught and used over our years. Prayer can be in doing for others. Our prayer can also come in the most mundane of tasks that we perform each day, if we approach those things in a prayerful manner.
In the Gospel today, just as Father Bill explained to us last week what we can to do in order to strengthen our faith, we hear John the Baptist explain to the people of his time what they needed to do when they questioned, “What should we do?”. John tells the people, share what you have with those who don’t have. Be fair in your dealings with others. And be satisfied with what you have and where you are in life. If we are able to follow these couple things we would be living out Gods command to love ourselves and to love one and other.
At those times when we think that we don’t have time for anything additional or we are too busy for more, that is when we need to evaluate where our focus is. It’s probably at those times, when we need prayer the most. We can easily get caught up in the trappings of life. We can easily become consumed with what we want rather than what we need. None of that matters to God. He just wants that intimate relationship with us.
When Father Bill or any of the clergy give a homily, we are to take that message with us and think about it, ponder it throughout the week. Think about how the message fits in our own lives. It’s meant to get us to think about how we are doing on our journey through life. So as I went through my week, I thought about what Father said and thought about my life and where I’m at in my journey. In the past year or two my wife and I have made big changes in our lives. Selling our family home, coming to Florida, leaving the kids. At times it’s been difficult. I’m sure many of you have gone through the same things and had the same feelings that we’ve experienced. Change is never easy.
What has made it easier for us, is that we found a faith community that we love. You have embraced us, you’ve made us feel welcome and we are grateful for your warmth and caring. As I contemplated Fathers homily, though, I thought about where I fit in in the parish and where I could best serve. As a guy, I always want to jump in and go to work but it takes time to get a feel for where you are and I’ve spent some time getting to know you and getting to know the rhythm of the parish. But still, I felt like I should be doing more here. Then it dawned on me that part of Fathers message last week, and it ties in with the Gospel this morning, is that we have to bloom where we are planted. We have to live God’s message right where we are. The people of John the Baptist’s time asked “What should we do?” In essence John tells them, do what you are doing, where you are doing it, just do it better. Do it honestly and be generous about it.
So for my own life, as my role here at the parish is evolving and as God reveals where He wants me, my ministry also extends to where we live now. I think that both Peg and I have been a positive influence on our community.
After getting to know us, I find that people are more open about their faith. God and prayer is talked about more frequently. We openly offer prayer for other people. People are more willing to speak frankly about issues and faith matters. These are all good things. As Christians, isn’t that our mission? To take our faith out into the world?
In general we live relatively quiet lives. We go through our days doing things that we’ve done hundreds of times before. Whether it is folding the same clothes for the thousandth time. Working at a desk, as we have for thirty years. Or repairing another bathroom after doing that type of work for what seems like an eternity. Whatever it is, we are called to do, even the most mundane things, to the best of our ability and to do them for God.
Whatever we do, we are doing it for someone else. We are doing it for one of God’s people. It can be our spouse, our boss, a customer, or for a complete stranger. But whoever it is, we should always give the best we can. We don’t have to be perfect, but we should strive to be. Again, God doesn’t expect perfection, He just wants us to do whatever we do, the best we can and with a loving heart.
This idea of not being perfect in what we do is demonstrated in the first reading this morning. We remember that the Jewish people had a hard time staying on track at times. The prophet Zephaniah writes that no matter how many times the Jewish people messed up, they were to sing joyfully, be glad and exalt because the Lord had removed the judgement against them. He wasn’t holding anything against them. It goes on to say, Fear not, don’t be discouraged because God is in their midst. The Lord always forgives, even when they stumble. He is always with them. He renews His love for them and sings joyfully because of them.
That was God’s covenant with the Jewish people. Today we are the people of the new covenant. So when we stumble, when we are not perfect, when we mess up, it’s ok. We don’t have to fear and we shouldn’t be discouraged. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up. God is always with us and He renews His love in us and He sings joyfully because of us. Isn’t that amazing? God sings joyfully because of us!
We should always remember and take comfort in the fact that when we’re not perfect, we are in good company. John the Baptist was doing everything he could to sacrifice for the Lord. He was living out in the desert. He was preaching and baptizing and still he wasn’t perfect. In fact, he tells us even after all that he did, he was not worthy to loosen the thongs of sandals of the one who was to come! If someone like John couldn’t reach perfection, with all that he did, what chance do we have?
Well, it doesn’t matter. From the second reading, St. Paul tells us of the love that God has for us even when we are not perfect. He tells us to rejoice in the Lord always. The Lord is near, He’s always with us. He goes on to say, “have no anxiety but in everything pray and give thanks. Make your requests known to God and give thanks. Then God will give you peace”. God will give us peace. He’ll give us peace of heart, peace of mind. Peace so that we can enjoy this life that He has blessed us with. So that we are not going through life beating ourselves up when we stumble or not as perfect as we think we should be. He just loves.
The bottom line is this, we have to bloom where we are planted, and we have to do the best that we can, in whatever we do. Do it with honesty and integrity and with the love of God in our hearts.
Again we don’t live “big lives” as the world would see it, we’re ordinary people. Like the disciples. Like most of the saints and all the people who helped to build the Church and kept it strong and vibrant after all of these centuries. Out of all those ordinary people came this miracle which is our Church. Despite wars, schism, scandal, the fact that our Church is still here, is a miracle. It is proof, that God has His guiding hand on us. We should rejoice in that. We should rejoice in God, He certainly rejoices in us.
My brothers and sisters, we have so much to be grateful for. We have a God who loves us, even when we are not perfect. We have a church where we come together to gain strength, to help us in our journey toward an everlasting life in heaven. It gives us an avenue to help increase our faith through its many programs and happenings. All, thanks to the promises and sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We also have each other. We gain God’s grace and receive blessings from Him as we grow in faith together. Always remember and celebrate that God rejoices in us! Because He does!!! Isn’t that amazing!!!