Preacher’s Sketchbook: Third Sunday of Advent
November 29, 2011
Each week, a Dominican member of the Provincial Preaching Advisory board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration. NOTE: Due to an editing error this was attributed to the second week of Advent, but has now been amended to reflect its proper place as the Sketchbook for the third week of Advent.
Bl. Pope John Paul II, Misericordia Dei
By identifying Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29), Saint John the Baptist confirms this mission. In all his deeds and preaching, the Precursor issues a fervent and energetic summons to repentance and conversion, the sign of which is the baptism administered in the waters of the Jordan. Jesus himself underwent this penitential rite (cf. Mt 3:13-17), not because he had sinned, but because “he allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already `the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (Jn1:29); already he is anticipating the `baptism’ of his bloody death”. Salvation is therefore and above all redemption from sin, which hinders friendship with God, a liberation from the state of slavery in which man finds himself ever since he succumbed to the temptation of the Evil One and lost the freedom of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:21).
Bl. Pope John Paul II, Angelus, Third Sunday of Advent 2003
To know that God is not distant but close, not indifferent but compassionate, not aloof but a merciful Father who follows us lovingly with respect for our freedom: all this is a cause of deep joy which the alternating ups and downs of daily life cannot touch. An unmistakable feature of Christian joy is that it can go hand in hand with suffering, since it is based entirely on love. Indeed, the Lord who “is near”, to the point of becoming man, comes to fill us with his joy, the joy of loving. Only in this way can we understand the serene joy of the martyrs even amid trial, or the smile of saints, full of charity for those who are suffering: a smile that does not offend but consoles.
Pope Benedict XVI, Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent 2007
Some people ask: but is this joy still possible today? Men and women of every age and social condition, happy to dedicate their existence to others, give us the answer with their lives! Was not Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta an unforgettable witness of true Gospel joy in our time? She lived in touch daily with wretchedness, human degradation and death. Her soul knew the trials of the dark night of faith, yet she gave everyone God’s smile. In one of her writings, we read: “We wait impatiently for paradise, where God is, but it is in our power to be in paradise even here on earth and from this moment. Being happy with God means loving like him, helping like him, giving like him, serving like him” (The Joy of Giving to Others, 1987, p. 143). Yes, joy enters the hearts of those who put themselves at the service of the lowly and poor. God abides in those who love like this and their souls rejoice. If, instead, people make an idol of happiness, they lose their way and it is truly hard for them to find the joy of which Jesus speaks. Unfortunately, this is what is proposed by cultures that replace God by individual happiness, mindsets that find their emblematic effect in seeking pleasure at all costs, in spreading drug use as an escape, a refuge in artificial paradises that later prove to be entirely deceptive.