Basic Information

Mass Location: St. Mary Magdalen Chapel, 2532 Ventura Blvd., Camarillo, CA 93010
Mass Time: Sunday 10 a.m. (check parish website bulletin for special feastdays which may be different)
Confessions: 9:00-9:45 a.m. - see schedule below

Monday, December 21, 2015

Homily - Fourth Sunday in Advent - December 20, 2015

1 Cor. 4:1-5; Lk. 3:1-6

The Gospels of the second, third, and fourth Sundays of Advent give us St. John the Baptist.  Today’s Gospel, from Luke, gives us the content of his message.  As you know, John the Baptist belongs to the Old Testament.  He is the last of the prophets.  He announces Christ, the beginning of His public ministry, and of the Church.  So, at this moment in history, the Gospel tells is, “The Word of the Lord came to John,” to let us know that all of this is the work of God.

John the Baptist proclaims repentance for the remission of sins.  The early Church fathers are at one in reminding us that St. John the Baptist could not forgive sins.  He is like the old law, which could point out sin, but could not forgive sin.  Only Christ can forgive sins.  And so we live in a time of forgiveness.  It is not a time of judgment.  That will come at the end.  And this is what St. Paul tells us in the epistle.  He does not judge.  He does not even judge himself.  In this time, it is simply for him to be the faithful steward of the mysteries of God.

Forgiveness is something very special to us as Catholics.  The Protestant reformers did not believe in forgiveness.  Luther said that when God forgives, He simply covers up our sins, like snow, but our sins remain.  There is no sanctifying grace.  Anyone can do that.  But when God forgives sins, He takes away our sins.  We say that in the Mass, not only once, but three times.  “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.”  And, “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.”  We hear, “Peace on earth,” during this time of year, and we long for it, especially in view of so many disturbing events which unsettle us.  Here is the key to peace on earth, the redemption of Christ, and that He take away our sins, and the sins of the world.  It is right here, in our faith, and in our Mass.  It is the time of forgiveness.

When our Lord presents Himself to John, he says, “There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  John’s whole purpose is to point out Christ, not himself.  He says, “I am not the messiah.”  He says, “I must decrease, He must increase.”  And His message of repentance is that.  It is an interior sorrow for sins in anticipation of the forgiveness of Christ.  He says the valleys will be filled and the mountains laid low.  When a visiting dignitary would come to town, people would go out and clear the road for him, filling in the low points, lowering the mounds, to hasten his way.  And so we clear way anything which is in the way of the Lord’s coming.  He says the crooked shall be straight.  This repentance is a turning toward God.  The word metanoia in the Greek means literally to turn.  If you have ever looked at the moon through a telescope, you know that if you are a few millimeters off at this end, you are 10,000 miles off at the other end.  We turn our attention to Christ, then, even in the small things, and His forgiveness, and set our sights on heaven, life’s goal.

All of the prophets of the Old Testament situate their ministry in a historical setting, and the same is true of today’s Gospel and St. John the Baptist.  He appeared in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, to signify that the coming of Christ would affect the whole world, and the Jewish leaders are mentioned, since the promise was first made to the Jews.  During the time of the emperor, because Christ came as king, and the priests, because He came as High Priest, that by the paschal mystery of His birth and incarnation, cross and resurrection, He would redeem the whole world, by forgiving our sins.