Are You The One? Homily for the 3rd Sunday in Advent A-Rejoice! By Pastor Judy Lee
This is the Sunday of Joy in waiting for the coming of Christ-for the fullness of Christ within us so that we reflect Christ; for the Christ born in relative poverty and shepherds rejoicing on Christmas day; and for the Christ who will return when the kin(g)dom is close to fruition. The pink candle of joy is lighted and we are only one week away from the birth of the baby in the manger.
Isaiah tells us ((35:1-6,10) tells us that when our God comes to save us, the blind will see and the deaf will hear, the lame will leap and the mute will sing for joy. I take this to mean, beyond the miraculous, that finally we will all understand and see and hear what the kin(g)dom of God is about, love and justice-and joy. We will get up off of our comfortable seats and walk and dance this kin(g)dom into existence. The faithful will enter Zion with joy, sorrow and lament will flee and there will be everlasting joy on their faces. For Isaiah’s exiled people freedom will bring that joy even as Mandela’s triumph brought a lasting joy to South Africa. Yet that joy is there despite the poverty that exists among the poorest for whom little has changed in South Africa. The work of the kin(g)dom is not anywhere near done there or here or anywhere. The Psalm also assures us of God’s love and provision for the poor- “You secure justice for the oppressed- You give food to the hungry”. And at the same time we whose eyes are open know that our work is intense- there is so much work to be done so that there is justice for the poor and all are fed. And we know this even though we do our part in feeding the poor and working for justice regularly. The epistle reading today (James 5:7-10) asks us to wait patiently for the kin(g)dom to come even as the farmer waits for the crops to grow. And yet we know that we must work to bring forth the crop and the kin-dom- to unite all of us as God’s family. James wrote about that strongly –faith without works is dead! (James 2:26)
Good Shepherd Church-Pearl Cudjoe and Debbie Carey serving the Sunday Meal
But we know this (that our work is needed) only if we have indeed found the One that leads us into this kin(g)dom and asks us to work together to bring it here. John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, his Mom Elizabeth and Jesus Mother Mary were close friends. John knew who Jesus was from the start-from the womb as it were. John knew that his own job was to prepare the way for Jesus. John’s preaching did this and he had already baptized Jesus and experienced the Spirit of God affirming Jesus. And yet in today’s Gospel (Matthew 11:2-11) John seems confused. Perhaps we would be as well if we were in prison and it looked like there would be no reprieve and if we could not see the works that Jesus was doing, but only hear about them second hand. (And that is how it is for us, isn’t it? So we can look around and see the pain in the world and ask John’s question too. ) John sends a messenger to ask: “Are you the One who is to come, or do we look for another”? Maybe John’s Messiah was to literally free the Jews from the Romans, maybe he was to overturn the political establishment by whatever means necessary. Yet John knew the holiness and greatness of Jesus saying “I’m not even worthy of latching up his shoes”. Maybe John was just confused. I can resonate with that-we see Jesus, the Christ, filtered through so many eyes old and new, traditional theology and contemporary theology, that tell us who Jesus is or isn’t, it can be very confusing. All do it with great authority as if they finally have God in the box. But God just doesn’t fit in any box. So if we are honest we too may ask Jesus, “Are you the One?”
Do you remember a time in your life when you were looking for “the one?” I don’t mean for the Messiah, the Anointed/Chosen one, but for the one you would love and cherish and want to spend your life with? The one who would be your lover and beloved forever? I remember that time. It was more than one time. Finding the love of your life is so complicated and so much mutuality is needed and people change so much that you don’t always get it right. I remember wondering if this one, or that one was “the one”.
The African American people also had a long period of time and sometimes still ask when a child is born: Is this the one? Meaning the one who will lead the people to freedom who will show the way. I wonder if they knew when Martin Luther King Junior was born that he would at least be one of the ones who would lead the way, or Rosa Parks, or Sojourner Truth? Is this the one? Did Nelson Mandela’s mother know he was the one to lead his people to freedom? Maybe not, they say he changed in prison to become the gentle forgiving leader that galvanized a country-not only by his great courage but by his love.
Well, the answer Jesus gave is a really good one. He answered with what he DID not with what he was supposed to be. He referred to the passage in Isaiah about the reign of God and pointed out that he has been making the blind to see, the lame to walk, the unclean clean/lepers cured, the deaf to hear and even the dead to be raised to life. And the “have-nots” have the Good News preached to them-by him. So blessed are they who can see this and not take offense. Offense at what- at the man who is fulfilling prophecy and bringing on the kin(g)dom? Yes, this would offend the powerful and also the traditionally religious who can’t believe that this is happening in their midst. “Can’t” because they may be expecting someone else a military leader for example. “Can’t” because he comes from a small not powerful town, though one that was prophesied for the Savior’s birth. “Can’t” because they just don’t get who he is or what he’s doing. “Can’t” because his being and preaching, his inclusion of women and outcasts threatens the status quo, including their religious establishment power.
For those who seek the one to love and settle down with-the answer is also in his or her deeds. Is this the one for me? It is if their actions not just their words show their love for you. And if you in turn reciprocate this love with loving deeds. With love it is a two way street. Well, it’s the same with loving Jesus, the Christ. If we love Christ our deeds will show it. We will become Christ-like-we will become like our Beloved. We will work hard to feed, shelter, cry for justice with and for, and love EVERYBODY. And Christ might just ask us too “Are you the one?” It is all about love after all. And that love brings us great joy-it also brings on the kin(g)dom of God on earth and forever. So do you know this Christ, is this the One for you? If it is, REJOICE!
Pastor Judy Lee,ARCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community Fort Myers, Florida