We Are Heralds of the Good News in the World!

Fr Chris Lemieux’s Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent [Sunday December 15, 2013]; at St. Patrick’s Parish in Markham:  Where have
all the prophets gone?  Why are there no more prophets in the world?  This is one
of the questions I’ve been asked by the students, maybe some of the San Lorenzo or St. Julia students here with us today. How come we don’t have Isaiahs, Moseses, Jeremiahs running around among us anymore?  How come we don’t have John the Baptists here anymore?  Well, what I tell the young people when they ask this question is something that might be news to you too, because as I try to, I do a little research before I answer some of those questions.  We have prophets, but prophecy is assumed by Jesus Christ, and when we are baptized, and receive the sacraments, in the way we become intimately connected with Jesus, like Him we become prophets too.  It’s our job to proclaim the Gospel and evangelize, although that task may lay dormant in us; it is there.  Jesus is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, that
is, God’s very self, made man.  So what He has to say, what’s contained in this book is everything; prophecy could say no more.  But even if there was a John the Baptist in our midst, would we recognize him?  we are the prophets, the John the Baptist; we are supposed to be the ones who prepare the way for the Lord, and this is something that we celebrate and reflect on a little more deeply in the Advent season.  We are to be instruments of Christ, we are to be the precursors, the ones who prepare the way for others to draw closer to Christ as well.  One of the things though that all of us should ponder is how the times we live in, and the times recorded for us in Scripture, though different share important similarities.  In Isaiah, the people at the time were being oppressed by the Babylonians.  In the Gospel times only centuries later, the Romans were oppressing the people.  So another question is who oppresses us today?  Is it our careers and the hours that we have to work?  Is it our employers?  Is it consumerism?  Materialism?  Well, all of these things are certainly making a contribution to what oppress us, and perhaps this is more difficult to pinpoint for all of us because it might be different for each of us.  If our particular situation forces us to have to work a lot just to make ends meet, then we are often oppressed by capitalism and the employment structure.  But if we are a little better off, we can be oppressed by materialism and consumerism.  There is however a constant theme; that what was prophesied and made perfect in the Gospel was this; our faith and the trust we have in that faith; the extent in which we are willing to trust God is what will set us free; not the changing of our circumstances.  This is what Pope Francis implores us to do in his letter to us, his Exhortation.  In what he calls “the joy of the Gospel”, he calls us to be full of Christian joy, a joy that lasts.  He comments on how throughout his life he has seen the greatest joy in the people who have the least, people who by all accounts we might judge to be oppressed.  He illustrates how in fact it is those among us who seemed to be more oppressed, actually might have the greatest freedom and live in joy through their faith.  As I watched a biography just the other day on Nelson Mandela, this resonated with me once again.  Unjustly imprisoned, this man realized that he was oppressed by the conditions and elements of the world that he lived in, but he chose to allow his heart to be free, in this way, Nelson Mandela lived in full awareness of what God had given him; the freedom to love and to choose love.  And so he did, and so by doing so this man changed the course of history.  My brothers and sisters, we need to seek the greatest possible awareness of how we live, and in particular how we live our faith.  The Gospel never exists in a vacuum and just as John the Baptist teaches us by his seeking and striving to discover the truth about Jesus; we too must realize that it’s in continuing to
follow Christ and live by faith that we too will find the greatest joy; the joy of the Gospel; the Gospel message we rejoice in on this Gaudete Sunday.  And as we continue to work on finding that freedom for ourselves, and helping each other with this task – let us remember that we are the prophets, the heralds of the Good News for all the world.

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