Friday, December 18, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

The Joy of Every Heart

Léon Bloy was a French writer who lived in the 19th century. He wrote, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” He was also quoted by Pope Francis in his first homily as Pope. In that quotation he said, ‘He who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil.’

Leon Bloy tells us that the surest sign that God is present in our lives is that we possess joy, the joy of God himself. If we do not have this joy it means that God is not present in our lives or this presence is not acknowledged by us, not enjoyed by us.

In our Gospel reading today we read Elizabeth telling Mary the mother of Jesus, “The moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby leapt in my womb for joy.”

The not-yet born John the Baptist leapt in the womb of his mother Elizabeth for joy. He was joyful because God had come to him and his family in bodily form in the womb of Mary.

Jesus put joy into the heart of John the Baptist even when both of them were still in the wombs of their mothers.

Jesus gives joy to us. He is the source of all our genuine joys. Here are the ways of how Jesus gives joy to us.

First, Jesus gives joy to us as an infant. William and Gloria Gaither once wrote a song entitled, Because He Lives. In that song they sing, “How sweet to hold a newborn baby, And feel the pride and joy he gives;”.

A newborn baby gives joy to its parents. Jesus gives joy to us as a newborn baby. Jesus is God and he came down to earth and was born from our humanity. He was from us. He is as it were our baby and in the spirit through our imagination we can hold him in our arms and feel the joy he gives to us as an infant. Parents have experienced this joy. Older brothers and sisters have experienced the joy of holding their infant brother or sister in their hand. Jesus, especially in this season of Christmas, allows us to feel the joy of holding him as an infant in our arms.

But Jesus gives us more joy than just from holding him as a baby. He gives us joy by redeeming us, saving us from sin. His name literally means, the God Yahweh saves us. He saves us from our sin, from our sins, from our sinfulness and from the effects of sin in our lives.

He saves us from our sin. John the Baptist would later point to Jesus saying, Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This sin is singular. This is the sin by which we all commit all sins. This is the sin of being disobedient to God.

No matter how much we try we will always be disobedient to God because disobedience is in our heart planted there by the first sin of our first parents. It is this disobedience that Jesus took away from us by dying on the cross and rising from the dead. He gives us his new life, a life of obedience to God.

This is what makes us joyful. We were once disobedient to God. Jesus comes to us and makes us obedient to God by giving us a completely new life. This life was given to us in baptism but many of us have not actualized this life. We have not made it actual and real in our life. This is because we fail to follow the instruction of how to make it actual and real in our life. That instruction is in the Word of God, the Bible.

Join me now as I recite the prayer hymn composed by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Let us bow down our heads to pray.

Jesus, the very thought of You
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Your face to see,
And in Your presence rest.

No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Your blest Name,
O Savior of mankind!

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind You are!
How good to those who seek!

But what to those who find? Ah, this
No tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Jesus, our only joy be You,
As You our prize will be;
Jesus be You our glory now,
And through eternity.

O Jesus, King most wonderful
You Conqueror renowned,
You sweetness most ineffable
In Whom all joys are found!

When once You visit the heart,
Then truth begins to shine,
Then earthly vanities depart,
Then kindles love divine.

O Jesus, light of all below,
You fount of living fire,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
And all we can desire.

Jesus, may all confess Your Name,
Your wondrous love adore,
And, seeking You, themselves inflame
To seek You more and more.

You, Jesus, may our voices bless,
You may we love alone,
And ever in our lives express
The image of Your own.

O Jesus, You the beauty are
Of angel worlds above;
Your Name is music to the heart,
Inflaming it with love.

Celestial sweetness unalloyed,
Who eat You hunger still;
Who drink of You still feel a void
Which only You can fill.

O most sweet Jesus, hear the sighs
Which unto You we send;
To You our inmost spirit cries;
To You our prayers ascend.

Abide with us, and let Your light
Shine, Lord, on every heart;
Dispel the darkness of our night;
And joy to all impart.

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