Roc Homily – Third Sunday Advent (Cycle C) 2015

Third Sunday Advent 2015 +December 13, 2015


Homily by Roc O’Connor, SJ, associate pastor at the Church of the Gesu

Luke 3:16 (NRSV) — 16 John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

I focused on two key Greek words in the gospel – hikanos – meaning worthy as well as large enough, long enough, or adequate. (I know what you’re thinking. Easy does it!). It doesn’t mean I’m a jerk or a schmuck or worse than moldy bread.

  1. It’s our lot to identify with the best, the strongest, the most glamorous, most successful to prop up our precious creatureliness… to pretend we are adequate or worthy.
  2. John the Baptist identifies the coming of One who meets us where we don’t want to be met… where we are small, not puffed up.

And the other word – pur – meaning fire. This connects to the fire of Pentecost, the fire of the burning bush, to gold that’s tested in fire. Very cool!

Finally, one more for good measure: Luke 3:17 (NRSV) — 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” This saying connects with two key sayings in Luke that show the difference between the path of folly and the path of wisdom:

Luke 12:18 (NRSV) — 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.

Luke 12:24 (NRSV) — 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

It is good news that Christ uncovers our pretense to be BIG. It is good news that Christ’s Spirit slowly pulls off the veil from our eyes to see our smallness. (Rats!) And it is good news we are called from the path of folly to the path of wisdom.

[I apologize for the noise of shuffling paper…]

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