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Trusting In God's Plan

Homily 12 15 2013
3rd Sunday of Advent - A

Homily 12 15 2013
3rd Sunday of Advent - A

View the Readings for this day

John the Baptist: He was the greatest man born of woman. He was a great preacher...bold and courageous.


He challenged the morals of King Herod, pointed out his sin. Can you imagine telling the King he's living in the sin of adultery, and that he's not right with God?

Don't expect to be invited to open Congress in prayer, or to be invited to the White House for counsel. And in John's day, you can expect to land in prison...and he did.

In Bible days, prisons were much different than today. No A/C, library, weight room, cable...it was a dingy, dark, rat-infested, hole in the ground...a dungeon.

This is the end of the road for John...he's living his final days in what seems like failure, embarrassment, and shame. He had lived his entire life for the Lord. The Bible says he was filled with the spirit of God from his mother's womb; he surrendered at a very early age to be God's spokesman, a forerunner to the Messiah.

He lived his entire life in God's will, and now he's spending his final days in prison as the laughing-stock of the nation...and fact is, it's not going to get better-you won't read later that John is rescued from prison. No angel releases him like Peter in Acts. No earthquake frees him like Paul and Silas. No, he's going to die in this prison...he'll be beheaded at the hands of Herod.

John's life is an example for many of us who follow in his footsteps. Don't miss the boat here, folks: John is having doubts. He sends his disciples with a message, "Go to that guy we thought was the Messiah, my cousin, Jesus, and ask him if He really IS the Messiah, or should we look elsewhere? He's having doubts...is He really who He claimed to be?

Question: Was there ever a time in John's ministry when he knew for a fact that Jesus was the Messiah? Sure! Who walked before Jesus saying, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world?" Who said that? Did he have any doubts then? Why now? Because he's in prison...times are tough...he's used to being in better circumstances...he envisioned a better end than this. He's in a valley with no mountains in sight.

Prison was not a part of the plan. He's saying: "Jesus, if you're really the Messiah, why am I in here? Don't tell me this is part of the script/agenda. Why is it happening this way?"

It happens to us too through ups and downs and our excitement wanes. The freshness fades, our vision for God diminishes and our attitude weakens.

We've seen it all before: new converts come and go...some make it, some don't...people transfer in/out...I've sung this hymn a million times...I've heard this illustration before...had a lot of baptisms, that's good, if they're real decisions-we'll see I guess...what's wrong with the sound system?...I don't like the pastor...you'd think they could get the temperature right in here.

They find themselves on a downhill grade...the victories and mountaintops of yesterday didn't lead all the way to heaven after all. The family that started out so good didn't end up as they had imagined. The glory days at church were short-lived, and a generation has passed and it hasn't happened since...probably won't. "This phase we're in as a church is a passing fancy. People let you down...I don't know if I'll ever trust again."

People do grow cynical, and become doubt-minded. That's exactly what John did. I don't know about you, but this is comforting to me. To know that a man of this stature...as great as John the Baptist, in time of tough circumstances and depression, had doubts. I'm not a spiritual freak for having these low times. If John the Baptist had doubts, we will go through periods of doubt.

If you've been a member of the Church a long time, you can think of times you went through doubts: God's love-if you love me, why do I have to go through this? God's power-why don't you fix this situation, Lord? God's justice-how can you let them get away with that, Lord?

All believers have doubts, and the doubts come when you're in prison...in the valley. What's your prison? Financial? Physical sickness? Family? Disappointment? Discouragement? Depression? Marital conflict? I know I'm not perfect Lord, but at least I'm trying. What are you going to do, Lord? "Art Thou He that should come? Or look we for another?"

Let me give you the reason for John's perplexity (in a nutshell): John had doubts because Jesus had not lived up to the pre-conceived notion in John's mind of what He should be and what He should do. John had formed a mold in his mind that Jesus should fit into...and when Jesus didn't fit it, now John has doubts.

John didn't have the big picture...John had an incomplete revelation of who God is. He didn't understand that Jesus had to come a first time to suffer, bleed, and die for our sins and that the NEXT time He would come to set up His kingdom. John had doubts because he didn't have the big picture.

Now, notice how Jesus responds to John's doubts: this next passage is comforting to me, because it shows me that when I have doubts, God understands.

Notice the tact and tenderness Jesus uses: quoting Is. 35:5-6, written hundreds of years earlier...

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
6 Then shall the lame man leap as a stag, and the tongue of the dumb sing. [...]

Jesus tells them to go back and tell John these things...Jesus knows John will immediately recognize these things as the very credentials the Messiah was to have. What tact Jesus uses in His answer.

When You Don't Know the Why, Trust The Who!

John didn't have the big picture, and most of the time, neither do we.

Why does cancer come and take away some of our best? Accident robs us of a loved one? Child dies? Why can't my boy talk? Man of God, being used mightily, falls, taking us with him? Child we raised in church does a 180 and mess up their life? Spouse abandons me? My dad, struck with a debilitating illness right at retirement age?

The search for answers leads us down dark, winding, dead-end streets we shouldn't venture down...when you don't know the why, trust the Who!

Simple faith believes He is a good God that He loves us unconditionally and would never hurt us. Simple faith remembers that we don't have the big picture.

One day, soon, we will stand before our Lord in heaven, and He's going to unfold our life, and we're going to see the big picture, and say, "Oh, now I see. Now I understand why you had to use those dark colors over here. Insert those bland areas...it's the only way it could have worked. Now I see the big picture. Wow. All things really do work together for good.

We've got to keep our eyes on Christ. In that prison, John could no longer see him, all he could see was his circumstances around him.

So it was for Peter, walking on the water: when he looked around at the storm and perils around him, he sank...when he looked back to Jesus, he was ok.

Having trouble? In a prison? In the valley? When you don't know the why, trust the Who! Financial, family, health, emotional, doubt minded? Tired of people letting you down? Stop asking why and put your eyes back on the Who. God is still in control and will accomplish His own good will in His time.

As we experience our journey this Advent season, today's readings remind us that hardships happen and we experience blindness, deafness, lameness and muteness.

In those times when we experience the desert, we might relate to John the Baptist and feel as though we have become imprisoned. We might lose sight on how to live with our hardship because the land has become too parched.

As we read in Isaiah, the parched land will exult or rejoice greatly.

There is hope. Jesus is our hope.

Jesus doesn't ask us to deny how real and difficult hardships are. He invites us to experience the hardships with him. Jesus comes to set captives free: to restore our sight, hearing, walking and speech.


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Mass Schedule

Saint Aloysius
Tue - Fri - 8:30am
Sat - 5:00pm
Sun - 10:30am

Holy Days
8:30am & 7:00pm

First Friday
8:30am followed by Adoration until 7:55pm

- After weekday Mass
- Before Sat & Sun Mass
- Mon - 3:00pm

Sat - 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Or by appointment

Our Lady Of Lourdes
Sun - 8:30am

Before Sunday Mass

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Saint Aloysius
211 West Mason Ave.
Buckley, WA 98321
Phone: 360-829-6515
Fax: 360-829-5190
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Office Hours
Tue - Fri 9am - 12:00pm

Our Lady Of Lourdes
506 Ash Street
Wilkeson, WA 98396
Phone: 360-829-6515
Fax: 360-829-5190
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