The Bishops Homily – 3rd Sunday of Advent

3rd Sunday of Advent
Is. 35:1-6, 10
James 5:7-10
Mt. 11:2-11

Introduction: John The Baptist appears again this 3rd Sunday of Advent, but this time in Chapter 11 of Matthew right at the middle of his Gospel and of Jesus’ Ministry when the Baptist was in prison. There, just like anyone of us, John is tormented with some doubt about Jesus and asks: “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?”
“Kayo po ba ang ipinangakong darating o maghihintay pa kami ng iba?

1. When the inquiry is conveyed to Jesus, he answers not theoretically or philosophically but points to things that are happening to show who he is:
“Go tell John what you see and hear.”
“Bumalik kayo kay Juan at sabihin ninyo sa kanya ang inyong naririnig at nakikita.”
This is at the heart of Christianity. With Jesus, things are happening and changing as Isaiah points out in the 1st reading:
“The desert will rejoice and flowers will bloom in the wastelands.”
“Muling sasaya ang ulilang lupain na matagal nang tigang; mamumulaklak ang mga halaman sa disyerto.”
This is meant to be understood literally. Jesus is perceived as a wonder-worker and that is why people were attracted to him. Jesus does not only care for the soul but the body as well. This is the basic idea of Incarnation. (Reality is better than ideas)

  • The blind see (Bartimaeus)
  • The lame walk (The Paralytic brought down from the roof)
  • Lepers are cleansed (The 10 lepers)
  • The deaf hear (Ephatah)
  • The dead raised to life (Lazarus, daughter of Jairus, Son of the Widow of Naim)

2. These physical healings are meant to be evocative also of spiritual/supernatural transformation. Jesus wants for us abundance of life – for the body yes but above all, the divine life, a share in the love that God is. Sin can have the following effects in us:

  • Spiritual Blindness: The blind wanders around and needs a guide. The most focused person in the natural order can be lost in the Supernatural. Jesus comes as guide offering the divine life.
  • Spiritual Deafness: We can hear every voice around but the voice that matters or the voice of conscience which according to Card. Newman is “the aboriginal vicar of Christ in one’s soul.” When Jesus gives the divine life, he restores his spiritual hearing.
  • Spiritual Lameness/Paralysis: A person maybe so mobile in the natural order but are stuck in place in the Supernatural. This is sloth or laziness of spirit. “Mary got ready and hurried of…”
    “Gumayak si Maria at nagmamadaling pumunta…”
    after the Annunciation, meaning she knew how to move, what to do. That is what happens when Jesus pours grace into one’s soul.
  • Spiritual Death (Mortal sin): Certain things we do are just incompatible with the manner of God’s life that it expels the divine life in us. Grace restores divine life in us. The Church puts that divine life in us through the sacraments.

Conclusion: Are you the one who is to come? Who is Jesus Christ really? Just look around. Things change; those spiritually blind see; those spiritually deaf, hear; those spiritually lame, move; those spiritually dead are restored back to the divine life. That would be a good Advent preparation.

Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches