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Sunday, December 14, 2014

FROM DENIAL TO DECLARATION


3rd Sunday of Advent-Year B
GAUDETE SUNDAY
December 14, 2014

FROM DENIAL TO DECLARATION

The Gospel passage of today reminds me of the unfortunate, dysfunctional politics that is in force in my country since time immemorial. Every big fish in government accused of so many things have one common response – deny, deflect, desist, and defame others!

This is a far cry from today’s humble approach shown by the focus of today’s gospel reading – St. John the Baptist. He could as well have been someone being interviewed by any of the warring giant networks’ team of overzealous reporters out to be make a scoop.  “Who are you?” … “What are you then?” … “Are you Elijah?” … “Are you the prophet?” “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?” “What do you have to say about yourself?”

Hmmm! … the questions sound familiar. They all sound like people who ask not to find out the truth, but to insist on their own brand of preconceived truth. The pressure must have been too much for one who was “sent from God,” and who “came for testimony, to testify to the light.”

Well, to be honest, John the Baptist, to me, passed with flying colors. He stood the test and held his ground. But for him to do so, he had to dispel some possible misconceptions from overzealous followers and uncritical hearers. He started out with denials: “I am not the Christ.” “I am not Elijah.” “I am not the Prophet.”

He might have stood his ground alright, but John knew his place! He knew the full truth about who he was, and what he was sent for. And, quite unlike our facebook statuses, and social media profiles, John knew his humble profile and held on to his lowly stature: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.”

A dirty politician, John definitely was not! A scheming and denying king, he was neither. For his denials, he was really leading his hearers to a monumental declaration: “I baptize with water; but there is one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”

And this, my friends, is the reason why today, we need to rejoice. Gaudete! Rejoice in the Lord always!

And who should say that we should not rejoice? Take it from Isaiah, who knows his onions … “I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for he has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.”

Rejoice not, because you got your bonus.  Rejoice not, because you have your new iPhone 6 (plus!). Rejoice not, because you have this or that. Be happy for them. Thank God for them. Be grateful for everything, but rejoice for something else, for some higher reason, for some more valuable gift.

Isaiah, again, shows us the way … Rejoice for he has announced “a year of favor from the Lord, and a vindication by our God!”

This, my friends, is good news! All others – bonus, gifts, gadgets and all – are nothing but add-ons and value added gifts. They don’t constitute the best and the highest of what we await – a new heaven and a new earth! For “the Lord God [will] make justice and praise spring up before all the nations!”

Come, Lord, come! Emmanuel be with us!

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