Homily for December 14, 2014: 3rd Sunday of Advent: Msgr. Jim Miller

Third Sunday of Advent
December 14, 2014

Reading 1 is 61:1-2a, 10-11

Responsorial Psalm lk 1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54

R/ My soul rejoices in my God.

Reading 2 1 thes 5:16-24

Gospel jn 1:6-8, 19-28


Who are you?   This question addressed to John the Baptist is a question all of us need to answer.  It is a question posed to us individually, but also a question addressed to us as a community.  Who are you?   When asked, “Who are you,” our usual response is to say our name, “I am Fr. Jim Miller, the son of Leo and Helen Miller of Cascade, Iowa.”   I enjoy being active, traveling, the outdoors, playing cards, sports, a good movie, a good book, music and prayer time.

But today’s question to John the Baptist is asking for more.  It is asking for the essence of who we are.  It is asking us to reveal the foundation of our identity.  It can be an uncomfortable question.

I could answer that I am a Catholic priest.   I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.   I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and is my Lord and my Savior.

I could answer that I am a sinner but I keep trying to overcome my sins and to do the will of God.

I could say that I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.   This may be the best answer.

John the Baptist on the other hand tells us who he is not:  I am not the Christ.  I am not Elijah.  I am not the Prophet.   He said he “was the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord” and “There is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”

What deserts do you find in your own life that test your faith but can be an opportunity for you to deepen your conviction about who Christ is?  For example, the “desert” of a long, debilitating illness tests our trust in God’s Presence and care.  The “desert” of a failed relationship tests our understanding of love and fidelity, and our willingness to forgive.  The “desert” of unemployment and financial stress tests our priorities and values and our willingness to depend on God.  The “desert” of the loss of a loved one tests our hope and trust as we try to live on when there is a “hole” in our heart.  Such testing shapes our convictions, helps us encounter Christ in our daily living, and enables us to testify to him with greater authenticity. 

In the second reading Paul gives us actions to take as we wait for the return of Jesus Christ.   He tells us to rejoice ALWAYS, to never stop praying, and to give thanks in ALL circumstances.   This means giving thanks and rejoicing even when our circumstances are not always moments of joy and thanksgiving, or when we are confronted with difficulties of the world.   When we are prayerful we can rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances because we are people of hope.