Saturday, December 12, 2009

Baptized or Burned

(3 Advent, C)

Brothers and sisters, we have a choice to make. To those who came to him in heartfelt expectation and received the baptism of repentance, John the Baptist announces that a fire is coming upon the earth. What will this fire will be for us? Will it be the fiery baptism with the Holy Spirit or the unquenchable fire that burns the chaff? John promises that both are coming. Indeed, they are the same thing.

For those who have looked forward to the arrival of the Savior and are ready to receive Him, this is a moment of rejoicing. “Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God, is in your midst” proclaims the prophet Zephaniah. The love and salvation of God is arriving in our world and in our lives, and there is no greater cause for rejoicing. The classic name for this third Sunday of Advent is Gaudete Sunday, from the Entrance Antiphon for today’s Mass, which is taken from the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians: Gaudéte in Dómino simper: íterum dico, gaudéte. Dóminus enim prope est. “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.”

This nearness of the Lord is the coming fire of which John the Baptist speaks. The fire is the passionate love of God, God’s burning desire for our salvation. In his infinite compassion, God saves the world by uniting his own divine life to our humanity in Christ, so that our human nature—yours and mine—can be reformed and re-created from the inside out. Jesus Christ continues this divine mission each day for us who are baptized into his death and receive his Risen Life into our very bodies in Holy Communion. The Body and Blood of Christ is the medicine of the divine physician, meant to cleanse and re-create our lives from within.

The Incarnation of the Word, which we prepare to celebrate at Christmas, is the dawn of this divine plan of salvation, the arrival of the fire of God’s burning love in our humanity.

As God’s burning love descends to make a home within us, it is up to us to decide what this divine fire will be for us. It is too intense to ignore, and if we try it will burn us away like chaff in the wind, lost to eternity. Instead, may we rejoice to consent to God’s love as a cleansing, spiritual, fiery baptism for each of our hearts and lives. Let us make ourselves homes for the fire of God’s love, that God’s delight may be our joy as we become those called to radiate divine love to the world.

1 comment:

4narnia said...

happy "belated" Guadete Sunday, Fr. C! great homily! the last paragraph of your homily really inspires me and kind of reminds me of "the road to Emmaus" (Luke 24:13-35);and "Jesus appearing to His Disciples"(Luke 24:36-49). some of what is written in that chapter of Luke is how the hearts of Jesus' Disciples were burning inside them as Jesus walked and talked with them; opened the Scriptures to them; broke bread with them and promised to send what the Father has promised (the Holy Spirit). the Disciples were filled with joy; they recognized Jesus; and they worshipped and praised God everyday. Jesus is born in our hearts so that we can go and do the same as His first Disciples with that same true joy and burning inside of us. PEACE! ~tara t~