With jesus's baptism, a new era of love, mercy, and forgiveness begins and continues until his second coming
Sunday, January 13th, 2019: The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Where we must go, Jesus has already gone before us. Jesus leads “The Way.” And the way for us to enter into Jesus Christ is through the sacrament of baptism. Holy Mother Church teaches wisely that we must be baptized, be born again of water and the Holy Spirit. We must be baptized in Jesus Christ, in His baptism. Jesus Christ was baptized into His own death, which leads to eternal life. That’s why Jesus insists that John the Baptist baptize Him.
John has a big message for those who think he might be the Christ, the anointed one. John says that “one mightier than I is coming”(Luke 3:16). John says his baptism is only in water. It is an outward sign signifying what the person inwardly must express. Jesus’s baptism will be definitive. It will be an act of God bringing salvation and judgement. St. Luke presents John baptizing Jesus last, after all of the people have been baptized. John’s mission climaxes here. Jesus receives the special anointing of the Holy Spirit as the Messiah in this baptism. Immediately, a new era begins. God opens the heavens and visits His people. This is the turning point in human history. God’s great salvation dawns at Jesus Christ’s birth and is achieved at Jesus’s death on the Cross. God gives a new revelation to His people. The Holy Spirit rests on Jesus to reside in Him bodily. The voice from heaven identifies Jesus as God’s Son and chosen one. Jesus is announced as the messianic king whose mission is humble self-sacrifice. God is good and lovingly kind and this is personified in His Own Son, Jesus Christ. If man gives himself totally to Jesus Christ, God will save him from eternal death. God will save him through the washing of regeneration in the waters of baptism. Christian baptism equals regeneration. Man is created anew. Baptism plants a new principal of supernatural life in man’s soul. Man begins to live on a new and higher plane. So in baptism, man is made into a new being. God in His mercy has brought about this change. No deed of man has any part in this new birth. God’s mercy alone saves us. In our rebirth, we have been pardoned and raised up to live a new and higher life. We are baptized into Christ’s death. In our sharing of Christ’s death and resurrection, God has enlivened us by putting a new and Holy Spirit in us, a Spirit which allows us to love and acknowledge God as “Abba”, “Father” and to walk blamelessly in our new lives. Our lives do not end in death. We have in God a hope for eternal life.
All of that happens in our baptism into Jesus Christ’s death and His resurrection. Our sinful selves are plunged into Christ’s death and our new selves rise in Christ’s resurrection.
Baptism is so essential that, in this church, infants and children are baptized. To not baptize a child would deny a child a priceless, essential grace of becoming a child of God. Read Acts 16:15 and verse 33. It does not say that children were baptized but it does say that the (whole) household had been baptized. That is a strong implication that children were baptized in the family household. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that one shall not baptize a child.
So this sacrament of Baptism is important, essential, and life-giving, eternal life-giving. It is so important that Jesus leads the way for each and every one of us. Baptism into His death, baptism into His resurrection, baptism into His eternal life because of His mercy and no merit of ours. How good, gracious, loving, and kind God is.
Homily for the Solemnity of Epiphany, ©, January 6th, 2019:
This Sunday is the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. This solemnity outranks the Sunday Mass. This solemnity is equal to Christmas, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, and Easter. The reason is because foreigners, Gentiles, come to worship the Lord, God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. “Epiphany” means “an appearance or manifestation of a divine being.” In this case, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, is manifested to the Magi, who prostrate themselves and worship Him.
Isaiah’s reading prophesies that Jerusalem will be the focal point of all the nations. This vision of a new Zion is universal in the sense that foreigners and their kings will acknowledge and serve the Jews. These foreigners will be welcome in Jerusalem and their offerings will be accepted in the Temple, the place of God’s presence. The people will be transformed. They will be just. Yahweh will be divinely present and will enlighten the city. Remember in Matthew 23:37, Jesus looks over Jerusalem and says “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it. How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing”(Matt 23:37). It is Yahweh who makes Zion the recipient of this homage from the Gentiles.
Psalm 72 explains who this king of the Jews is. This king of the Jews rules in Yahweh’s name. This king represents justice and peace to Israel and the world at-large. The king is an extension of Yahweh. The king exercises divine judgment. He upholds vigorously the rights of the oppressed and the poor. It is Jesus Christ who completely fulfills this messianic psalm, not Solomon. This ideal king’s reign of justice and peace is infinite. All kings will worship Him. This king will provide special care to the needy, oppressed, poor, and weak. All tribes and nations will bless His name.
You see in these Old Testament Scriptures the universality of this king and his headquarters in Jerusalem (Zion). That leads to St. Paul’s message to the Ephesian Christian Church. St. Paul writes that the Holy Spirit is active in the apostles and prophets, who are the foundation of this Church. The message that St. Paul and the others share (St. Peter in Acts 10:44-48) is that the Gentiles are co-heirs in the inheritance that God has promised to the Jews. They share it in Jesus Christ. They are part of Jesus Christ’s Body, the Church. This church is Jesus’s Church, founded on the rock of St. Peter and the gates of Hell will not prevail against her. The Gentiles will have the same benefits, same spirit, and the same body. It is the Gentiles who will receive eagerly this message of salvation in Jesus Christ. The Jews will not.
All of this sets the stage for St. Matthew’s gospel reading. The main message is “to do Him homage”(Matt 2:2,8,11). The contrast in doing Jesus homage is the eagerness of the Magi (Gentiles) to do this and King Herod’s outright refusal to worship Jesus. This story of Epiphany is exhilarating and disappointing at the same time. Herod intends to kill the newborn King of the Jews. The Gentiles will accept and worship Him. St. Matthew’s gospel says the Magi “were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother”(Matt 2:11). “They prostrated themselves and did Him homage”(Matt 2:11). They worshiped Jesus, joyfully. From there, they offer Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Gold is usually presented as a gift to a king, which Jesus is, the newborn king of the Jews. The frankincense is presented to a deity, in the Christian world and the pagan world too. This child “will be called Son of God”(Lk1:35). The Magi prostrate themselves and “did Him homage”(Matt 2:11). The Magi were aware of the divinity of this child. Their gift of myrrh is for the mortality of this child, this newborn King of the Jews. Myrrh is a narcotic when it is mixed with wine. It is given to treat someone who is wounded. Myrrh is also a deodorant which is applied to a dead body.
All of this comes together in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, who is adopted by St. Joseph, the last in the bloodline of King David. Jesus Christ is priest, prophet, and king. Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. He is a king who will be sacrificed on the Cross to forgive us of our sins. He is crowned in heaven and He is for all of us a savior who are included in His Church, this one. That includes both Jew and Gentile alike. I am saying all of this to remain faithful to the Sacred Scriptures which are part of this Epiphany. To do Him homage is the centerpiece. May we do Him homage eagerly like the Magi did and may we avoid the reaction of King Herod. That way, Jesus will enlighten us just as this ideal king would enlighten Jerusalem. Others will see us enlightened by Jesus when we conform ourselves to Him, crucify our sinful nature on His Cross, and invariably, show Jesus’s light and life in our own.
Jesus was "born of a woman" out of humility and love. the blessed virgin mary became mother of god out of humility and love too
Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God ©, January 1st, 2019:
St. Paul tells us that Jesus Christ was born of a woman and born under the law. Today’s readings show us the humility of Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus was born of a woman at the time predetermined by God His Father. So Jesus obeyed God by entering human history as a creature, one of us. He took His Flesh from a woman. Jesus’s complete human nature comes from His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus receives His Flesh, His Blood, His Human Nature, the color of His eyes, His hair, everything, from her whom He called “Mother.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary also obeyed. She said “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word”(Luke 1:38). The Blessed Virgin Mary said “yes” with humility. She became Jesus’s mother, in accordance with God’s plan for her and God’s plan for our salvation. She is completely human and completely obedient. That’s humility.
What Jesus does and what the Blessed Virgin Mary does are important because of God’s plan of salvation. St. Paul writes that God’s plan of salvation has two objectives. One is to redeem the Jews from the Law and the second objective is to confer divine sonship on all. Jesus humbled Himself even more by submitting Himself to the very Law He was to redeem Jews from. Jesus follows precisely the prescriptions of the Law. Jesus is a firstborn son. As such, God owns Him. Jesus is consecrated to God as a sacrifice.
The Blessed Virgin Mary does not seek exemption from the Law either. She submits and is purified after giving birth to Jesus Christ, even though there was no need for her to do so. Her virginity is completely intact before and after Jesus’s birth.
It is in this humility that both Jesus and His Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, are elevated. Jesus is our Savior and King. And the Blessed Virgin Mary is elevated as Mother of God. This exaltation of both is a result of their bowing humbly before God’s almighty hand. They are both exalted to high offices and high titles because they became meek and lowly. They remain that way for us today
god gives us the family to help us live out our christian vocation as his servants and his emissaries
Homily for the Feast Day of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, ©, Dec. 30, 2018:
Holy Mother Church celebrates the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph on this final Sunday of 2018. The three readings show the values a family must follow and the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ embodies those values well and is an example for us to follow.
The author of the first reading from the Book of Sirach says that a child/children have positive duties to perform for his/her parents. The father is the focus but the duties are towards both the father and mother. The spotlight is on the Fourth Commandment: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” The author says the motive for the child to perform these positive duties is life. The Lord will give life to the child/children who honor their father and mother. The reward of such honor will be atonement for sins, children, answered prayers, and family harmony. The reward of atonement for sins by honoring one’s father and mother is new. Before this Jewish author wrote this, the only way to atone for sins was by sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem. This author also indicates that one must repent of one’s sins at the same time that he/she honors his/or parents. Then, one’s sins are atoned for. Finally, the author counsels children to be kind to their parents because God will consider such kindness as almsgiving and will remember it on the day of judgement.
The psalmist writes a declaration of faith that God will always bless those who are reverent. “Fear of the Lord” means a way of life that places God above everything and everyone. The consequence of following the Lord’s way include a wonderful family life.
St. Paul writes to the Colossians that God’s chosen ones are in Jesus Christ, so therefore, they must “put on” the clothes of Christian virtue. We notice what people wear so St. Paul lists the virtues that should be the dress of Christian life. Love is the highest virtue. It acts as an umbrella which bonds all the other virtues together and perfects them. The individual must be peaceful. The peace of that person has communal effects in the family and in the church. St. Paul writes that thanksgiving to God the Father through Jesus Christ is a way of life. It is eucharist. It is thanksgiving.
Finally, the gospel story of Jesus Christ shows the grace and wisdom with which He is endowed. This story shows Jesus’s destiny and His mission. This story shows flashes in Jesus’s boyhood qualities that will grow and blossom into shining virtues in a superior manner when He is a man. Jesus says His life and His mission transcend the human family. Jesus is going to the Passover. The next time St. Luke goes to the Passover will be during Holy Week, when He lives, dies, and rises from the dead. In the meantime, St. Luke writes that Jesus will return home with the Blessed Virgin Mary, His Mother, and St. Joseph, His (adoptive) Father. “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man”(Luke 2:51-52). These two passages are all that we know about Jesus’s life inbetween the age of 12 and when He entered His public ministry at age 30. Jesus best embodies all the qualities and virtues the first three readings admonish us to follow.
this is a day of great joy because of the salvation jesus christ brings us by entering into human life and history
Homily for Christmas Day Mass ©, December 25th, 2018:
This is a very happy day. The readings reflect this. In the first reading the prophet Isaiah says “the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth…your Savior comes!”(Isa 62:11). Isaiah continues: “…Here is His reward with Him, His recompense before Him”(Isa 62:11). He concludes in verse 12: “…They shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord,…”(Isa 62:12). These names in verse 12 show the happiness, holiness, and glory of a new Zion.
Psalm 97 indicates that Zion is glad. The writer rejoices in the reign of Yahweh. Yahweh’s kingship overcomes all opposition. Zion welcomes its victorious creator-Lord.
In St. Luke’s Gospel, the shepherds get over their fear. They go in haste to Bethlehem to respond to the news of salvation that the angel has given them. Then, the shepherds tell what they have seen to others. Their hearers are astonished. Those who hear the shepherds’ testimony also glorify and praise God. And the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the ideal recipient of God’s Word, reflects on God’s words and deeds in her heart.
But perhaps what is most important is in St. Paul’s Letter to Titus. St. Paul describes God’s plan of justification, of which Jesus Christ has a critical part. St. Paul writes that God is kind and generous. He has appeared because of His Mercy, not because of our merits. God saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”(Titus 3:5). God has poured out this “through Jesus Christ our Savior”(Titus 3:6). So this Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger in Bethlehem is a savior for us. God poured out generously and abundantly this Holy Spirit “so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life”(Titus 3:7). That’s a lot to be happy about this Christmas Day.
Here is what it means for us: Good theology leads to good morality. God’s grace strengthens us to live virtuous lives. That is why God gives us grace through His Son and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to live virtuous lives. Our merits are ineffective and irrelevant. God’s mercy gives us salvation. Jesus’s sacrificial death brings us salvation. We participate in Jesus’s salvation when we accept and receive the cleansing of new birth and the gift of the Holy Spirit. God gave a spirit of life to Adam’s lifeless, clay body and enlivened him. God enlivens us by putting a new and Holy Spirit in us when we share in Christ’s death and resurrection. This allows us to love and acknowledge God as “Abba,” “Father.” We can walk blamelessly in our new lives. We are not God’s enemies. We are God’s children and even heirs. We have in God a hope for eternal life. So God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has radically changed our lives by entering our lives. Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Mediator. The Holy Spirit which God pours out on us liberally sanctifies us. All of this comes from grace, which results in our sanctification through the Holy Spirit.
This is much more than a process. But that is what St. Paul describes to Titus. And this answers for us the question of why this birth of Jesus Christ is so important. It gives us the opportunity to respond to God’s love and mercy, through which He sent us His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. He did it, and Jesus did it, out of love, for the lowest of the low (shepherds) and the highest of the high, and everyone inbetween. He did it for saints and sinners alike. That is what this is all about this Christmas. This Christmas is all about salvation through our only Savior, Jesus Christ.
Rejoice, for a child is born to us, jesus christ. He is called wonder counselor, god-hero, prince of peace
Homily for Christmas Mass at Night ©, December 25th, 2018:
The birth of Jesus Christ is the beginning of a new world for us. The Scripture readings through Advent have told us who Jesus is and what He is going to do, out of love for us. And now He is here. Jesus Christ’s birth announces light for those “who walked in darkness have seen a great light”(Isa 9:2). This light is new hope. Jesus is a “God-hero”(Isa 9:6), a king who is more than a human being. Jesus has divine power. He is expected to establish peace, impose peace, on that day. Holy Mother Church has applied this prophecy to Jesus Christ because these attributes are attached to a child who is born and has no power yet. But this child’s birth symbolizes humanity’s hope for a brighter future. And the key to this brighter future lies in innocence and justice, not military power or wealth. Jesus will rule an eternal kingdom with judgment and peace.
But Isaiah 9:6 also declares that this Messiah and King and His Reign are present. “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests”(Isa 9:6). “His dominion is vast and forever peaceful”(Isa 9:7). The reason for Jesus’s presence is because of the grace He makes readily available to us. The second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to Titus tells us that “The grace of God has appeared , saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires”(Titus 2:12), immediately, today. God’s grace through Jesus Christ leads us “to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age”(Titus 2:12). So therefore, our redemption thanks to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a radical change in life from sin to grace. It also empowers us and instructs us in integrity. If our conversion of mind and soul and life is authentic, we can stand confidently and in certain hope on the day of judgment.
God’s grace is given to us through Jesus Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. He has entered human life to give us this amazing and saving grace. This grace trains us“…us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age”(Titus 2:12). So therefore, grace from Jesus Christ strengthens us to regulate our lives by practicing piety, justice, and self-control. We perform our duties to God in a godly manner, to our neighbor justly, and to ourselves soberly.
The child born to us is “our great God and savior Jesus Christ,…”(Titus 2:13). He comes to us because He loves us so much that He “…gave Himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people as His own, eager to do what is good”(Titus 2:14). So therefore, another reason for our due diligence in performing out godly duties is Jesus Christ’s love, which will be proven in His Passion and Death. Christ loved us and sacrificed Himself for us. Our life lived well is our loving response to Jesus Christ’s loving mission to save us. His mission starts with His birth into humanity as a child who is fully divine and fully human.
The birth of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate solemnly here today, is the beginning of a new world. That is where our hope lies, right here and right now. This news is so good that we rejoice and the angels sing.
Jesus christ is king and messiah...and he has come to be sacrificed for our sins to reconcile us to his father
Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent ©, December 23, 2018:
Rdgs: Michah 5:1-4; Psalm 80; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
By: Fr. Scott Karnik
The Scripture readings this Advent tell us much about Jesus Christ and our need for Him. The readings from each of the Advent Sundays tell us that Jesus is coming again at the end of time to judge us and to take those who love Him into Heaven. Jesus is also came two thousand years ago to reconcile us with God His Father because God the Father wanted this reconciliation. Jesus is near, in our midst, so rejoice. And today’s readings tell us that Jesus Christ is the eternal King of Israel and the long-awaited Messiah. Today’s readings also tell us that Jesus, King and Messiah, will be sacrificed. He will be crucified to forgive our sins. In order to do that, Jesus must be divine, God’s Own Son, no one else’s. He has NO EARTHLY FATHER.
The first point from today’s readings comes from the Prophet Micah. Micah emphasizes that the Messiah, the newborn King of the Jews, will come from Bethlehem. He will not come from Jerusalem. Micah believes in Israel’s monarchy. But he also knows that this Davidic line, born in Jerusalem, is hopelessly corrupt and sinful. So this Messiah will come from little, humble, invisible Bethlehem. Bethlehem is the birthplace of King David. God has promised King David that a son of his, the fruit of his body, will rule on his throne forever. God’s prophecy through Micah says this king and messiah will appear in the future, not in Micah’s time. The origin of this messiah and king “is from of old, from ancient times”(Micah 5:2). The prophecy does not mention the messiah’s and king’s father. His origin is mysterious. His origin is from God Himself. No one on earth has fathered Him, He is only from King David’s lineage. We know that God will tell St. Joseph to marry the Blessed Virgin Mary and adopt the child she is carrying into David’s royal lineage. St. Joseph is the last man in David’s biological line. But Micah’s prophecy does mention a woman, the child’s mother. “…when she who is to give birth has borne,…”(Micah 5:3). The Scripture commentary I looked at says that the major prophecies of redemption mention a woman who gives birth. They include Genesis 3:15, Micah 5:3, and Isaiah 7:14, just to name a few. One of the points from today’s readings is that this Jesus is the King of Israel and Messiah. He comes from Bethlehem, not from the corrupt, sinful royalty in Jerusalem. Jesus is borne of a woman but His origin is from ancient times.
The second point comes from today’s second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. Jesus the Messiah and King comes to earth to obey His Father’s will. His Father’s will is that Jesus sacrifices His Body on the Cross to forgive our sins, to make a new covenant with mankind, and give mankind full entitlement to enter heaven as adopted sons and daughters of God the Father, brothers and sisters of Jesus Himself. It is necessary for this Messiah/King to be divine in order to accomplish all this. This is God the Father’s will because He (and Jesus Christ) love us so much. God the Father and Jesus want to bring us to our true home, heaven, not here. To do this requires reconciliation and this reconciliation requires the sacrifice of the Messiah/King who is divine. Hebrews quotes Jesus saying of God His Father that “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and sin offerings you took now delight”(Heb 10:5-6). “Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, behold, I come to do your will, Oh God”(Heb 10:7). God the Father prepared this body for His Son, in order to obey the Father’s will. The reason Jesus will do this is said in the Creed. We will declare and pray after this homily “For us men and for our salvation, He came down from heaven.” This reading from Hebrews is a description of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is Jesus’s way of making His Once-and-for-all Sacrifice present and real to us today. His Eternal Sacrifice becomes real for us who live in space and time through the Holy Mass. Jesus says “Do this in memory of me”(Luke 22:19).
The third point is that this body that the Father prepared for Jesus comes from the Blessed Virgin Mary. She “…is to give birth…”(Micah 5:3). St. Elizabeth declares of Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb”(Luke 1:42). Mary is miraculously pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Her virginity is intact. She is “blessed…among women”(Luke 1:42) because she is immaculately conceived without original sin so that Jesus can be conceived without original sin. St. Elizabeth says “…and blessed is the fruit of your womb”(Luke 1:42). Jesus proceeds from Mary alone. The Holy Spirit conceives Jesus in Mary’s womb. Jesus is divine, from God His Father. Jesus is human from the Blessed Virgin Mary alone, with no earthly, biological father.
This is who Jesus Christ is. This is what Jesus did. This is important because God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ love us. So God sends His Son to us to forgive our sins and return us to Him as adopted sons and daughters through Jesus’s once-and-for-all sacrifice. We will die someday. When that happens, Jesus will judge us justly. Our lot will be heaven or hell. Jesus obeys His Father’s will and sacrifices Himself to open wide the gates of Heaven to mankind below. All of this starts and ends with Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Mary. All of this starts when we celebrate Jesus’s birthday this week. Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.
Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent ©, December 16th, 2018:
If Jesus wrote you a Christmas card, what would it say? This is the Third Sunday of Advent, so we have enough information from the readings in Sacred Scripture these past three weeks to get an idea. Jesus would write that He is coming. He is coming to reconcile us to His Father because His Father wishes this. Jesus would add to His Christmas card to us from today’s readings that He is near, in fact, in our midst, so rejoice. And do these things to prepare your hearts and souls for Him when He arrives. The final thing Jesus would write in His Christmas card to us is that all of this should be regarded as Good News.
From the first reading from the prophet Zephaniah, notice all of the imperatives to us: “Shout for joy;” “Sing joyfully;” “Be glad;” “exult with all your heart.” We are to do these things because “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior, Who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in His love, Who will sing joyfully because of you, as on festival days”(Zeph 3:17-18). We will rejoice over this good news: “The Lord has removed the judgment against you, He has turned away your enemies”(Zeph 3:15).
St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians tells the Philippian Christians to live in joy, gentleness, in peace in Christ, and in freedom from the cares (of this sinful world). We are to be trustful and thankful in prayer. The imperatives are to rejoice, be kind, be calm, to pray, to petition with thanks, and have faith that God’s peace will guard you.
In today’s gospel, St. John the Baptist is again the main character. Those who have come to him with an uplifted heart to be baptized ask him what they must do. So he tells them. John the Baptist tells them to repent. Repentance is a man’s expression of sorrow for his sins. He is to express this sorrow by words and deeds. John tells them to share with the poor and to practice social justice. Then he instructs the tax collectors and soldiers who came to him for baptism to do their jobs fairly and honestly. John directs his message to everyone, even the most despised people of Jewish society (tax collectors and soldiers). John’s attitude towards the despised and lowly anticipates the attitude Jesus Christ will have toward sinners. John demands social justice, generosity, and honesty. John demands in his baptism with water that the person baptized must undergo a thorough change of disposition to prepare for Jesus’s coming. John’s baptism was one of immersion, symbolized by washing but more importantly, rebirth, new life. We die in the waters of baptism and we rise, reborn in a new life.
John the Baptist tells those who come to be baptized one more thing. He is not the Messiah. John’s official message is that “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire”(Luke 3:16). One mightier than I is coming. He will purify you of your sinfulness by His Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus’s graces will purify our uplifted, repentant souls.
John the Baptist also says “I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals”(Luke 3:16). That sounds like nice poetry. But John intends it to show just how lowly he is and how mighty the Messiah is. Loosening the thongs of one’s sandals in Jewish society was reserved for the lowest of the slaves. It was a Gentile slave to a Jewish master who would loosen the thongs his sandals. As great as the people think John the Baptist is, he tells them he is nothing compared to this coming Messiah. He will “…gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire”(Luke 3:17). In all of this, rejoice. This Messiah is near and in our midst. He loves us. He has removed the judgment from us and He has told us to repent of our sins so that we can further prepare for His intimate and personal coming in our souls.
Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent ©, December 9th, 2018:
Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126; Philippians 1:4-6,8-11; Luke 3:1-6
By Father Scott Karnik
The readings today tell us to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, just like last week. But this week, the readings tell us something more. They tell us that Jesus is coming to reconcile us with God His Father. God wants to forgive us our sins and save us, take us to Him, to be with Him in love forever, on that day when Jesus comes at the end of time.
First, in Baruch, the speaker tells Jerusalem to end her mourning. Jerusalem is told to prepare for the joyful return of her children (the exiles from Babylon). She is told to remove her garment of sorrow and to “put on forever the splendor of glory from God:…”(Baruch 5:1). This splendor of God is God’s saving action in returning her children from the Babylonian exile. The big message is that God has reconciled with His people. God has rescued them. Jerusalem will be reinstated in her former glory. She is adorned in holiness and she rules with justice. The outlook is Messianic. To “reinstate” means “to place again in possession or in a former position, condition, or capacity.” Our reconciliation today comes from faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. God is eager to reconcile with us. God is eager to reinstate in us His sanctifying grace, the state of love and grace Adam and Eve had before they disobeyed. This state of sanctifying grace enables us to practice virtuous acts. There will be no obstacles. Every lofty mountain will be made low and the valleys filled to make level ground. There will be no obstacles to come to God for forgiveness, love, mercy, and salvation. His salvation is universal, in a universal church.
Psalm 126 says the same. This is a pilgrim psalm sung as the worshipers approach the Temple. The psalmist anticipates the Messianic days when people will be filled with joy. But that is future. Right now, the people sow in tears. May God return prosperity, as the rains return fertility to the Negeb desert. The psalm says to us that it is of service to sinners who wish to be delivered from slavery to sin and to the just who sigh for the end of their exile here on earth. Our consolation will be so great that we will seem like men dreaming. Our consolation will be the forgiveness of our sins.
St. Paul asks the Philippian Christians to increase their love to know and to experience what is truly valuable. He asks this so that the Philippians will be pure and blameless at the day of Christ’s second coming. St. Paul has faith that the graces of their baptism will lead them to the glory of eternal life. God initiates and completes this whole good work. But God asks for our cooperation with His help by pursuing holiness and working toward salvation. We do that through the painful labor of repentance.
And finally in the Gospel, St. John the Baptist prepares the way of the Lord that today, through Jesus Christ, leads to the Messianic kingdom. He prepares through baptism. John’s baptism was a ritual act expressing the willingness of the person to join the movement of renewal. It counted on an interior disposition of repentance without which there could be no forgiveness. St. John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The penitent sinner would arrive at the Jordan River to humble himself to receive this baptism of repentance (with water). Their penitent disposition would make them more receptive to Christ, who comes to baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
All of this culminates in the same message for us. Jesus is coming. Prepare for Him. Go to the beautiful sacrament of confession this Advent. Our communal reconciliation service is Monday evening at 7pm here at St. Anthony’s. It is the best way for us to make every lofty mountain low and every valley filled to make a level road that Jesus can walk on to come into our souls with His forgiveness and sanctifying grace. That will be the fruit of our painful labor of repentance from our sins. Jesus is coming again and He will take us who love Him with Him on that day. His consolation for us will be so wonderful that we will be like men dreaming.
Homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, ©, December 8th, 2018:
Today’s readings give us a side-by-side comparison of two conversations. One is between God and Eve and the other is between God, through His Archangel Gabriel, and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The comparison is revealing.
In fact, you can add a third conversation to this. It is the conversation between the serpent and Eve. The serpent tells Eve that if she eats the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she (and Adam) will be like gods, and can decide good and evil for themselves. The evil one appeals to Adam and Eve’s pride. That is how Satan gets them to disobey. Now, they have both disobeyed. After God confronts Adam, and Adam blames Eve (and God), God confronts Eve about her disobedience. Eve says “The serpent tricked me into it so I ate it”(Genesis 3:13). Eve blamed someone else for her disobedience. Eve is a proud, sinful woman. She speaks honestly but she didn’t do it. Eve denies responsibility for her disobedient, sinful act of disobedience. Then, the author of Genesis says “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living”(Genesis 3:20). After their disobedient act, Adam and Eve have children and transmit sin and a fallen, sinful nature to them, and to us today. She “was the mother of all the living”(Genesis 3:20). Eve’s act of disobedience (and Adam’s) transmitted original sin to all the living up to today. That is Eve’s identity. She disobeyed and transmitted original sin and separation from God to us.
Compare that to St. Luke’s Gospel, where today we read the Annunciation. God is going to announce to Mary that it is time for the Messiah to appear. This Messiah will be God’s own Son and God wants her to be His Mother. St. Gabriel’s salutation is important: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you”(Luke 1:28). Verse 29 says “But she was greatly troubled at the saying,…”(Luke 1:29). Mary is troubled because she is humble. So St. Gabriel has to explain this to her. Mary is in the same state of grace that Eve was before the Fall. Mary is “full of grace” and “the Lord is with you”(Luke 1:28). Notice that God has favored her by filling her with grace before she consents to anything that God asks her to do. Eve had contact with the evil serpent. Mary will have contact with God’s Holy Spirit to conceive in her womb. The child will be God’s own Son, without any violation of her virginity. The bottom line is that Mary obeys God’s plan while Eve disobeys. Mary is the new Eve. Mary is absolutely that. The Blessed Virgin Mary obeys and reverses Eve’s disobedience. She says “I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word”(Luke 1:38). It is the Blessed Virgin Mary’s obedience which enables God’s salvation plan. Mary obeys and conceives God’s own Son. His name is Jesus Christ and He is Savior of the World. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Mary’s “yes” enables the Savior to be born. Her “yes” brings the Savior who saves us. The Blessed Virgin Mary consents to being a way for our sinless God to come into contact with sinful man here on this earth to forgive sins, exorcise demons, cure diseases, feed the hungry, make paralytics walk, and save the disenfranchised, those on the periphery. The Blessed Virgin Mary is not a corridor, or a street. The Blessed Virgin Mary gave Jesus Christ His human nature, His flesh, His body, His blood, in her womb. It is important to say that Jesus’s human nature is sinless. He never sinned. So therefore, the human nature He has is not a fallen, sinful human nature that Adam and Eve transmitted to each of us. So she has to be sinless, in order to give Jesus his perfect human nature. That’s why Holy Mother Church, in her infinite wisdom, has declared that she is sinless from the moment of her conception. Jesus Christ, the Second Person in the Blessed Trinity, saved her from sin at the moment of her conception. God fills her with grace before she even decides to obey God’s plan. Mary is completely unique in this way. Mary is the only human being God can come into complete unity with in order to save us. God saves her from sin from the moment of her conception so she can fulfill her part in this incredible plan of God’s love and salvation for each of us. Notice that the Blessed Virgin Mary responds by expressing her identity: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word”(Luke 1:38). Mary’s identity is being an obedient woman to God. She is an example to us all to follow. Eve’s identity was to be a disobedient woman to God. She is an example for us to avoid.
There is one more important point in today’s solemnity. It is that the Blessed Virgin Mary’s “yes” alerts us to the fact that Jesus Christ is coming this Advent. Jesus Christ will come at Christmas when He is born through God’s love and mercy for each and every one of us, and Mary’s “yes”.
February 12, 2017
October 23, 2016
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