Thursday, 15 December 2016

3rd Sunday of Advent 11 Dec 2016 Sermon

3rd Sunday of Advent 11.12.16 Joy

We hear of people who have won the lottery but they do not know it. They have the ticket but they have not checked the result. Everyone has to go looking for them.

These people, we could say, are happy, but they do not know their good fortune. They are rich but they do not know how rich they are.

We could say a similar thing in regard to those who have the faith, who possess God – it may be they also do not know how rich they are.

This is more complicated than the lottery situation because there it is just a matter of telling people they have won, but with faith there are many more factors involved.

We see how difficult it is to convert people to belief in God; and even when people do have faith it is hard to interest them to go deeper into the matter.

The winner of the lottery is happy, but why is he happy?  Well, now he hopes to have an easier life, less work, more fun, security, even power.

What can the knowledge of Christ give in comparison to that? HOW to live! Money will open doors to us, but will not impart any wisdom. Knowledge of Christ will teach us what our life is for; its purpose; the way towards attaining that purpose. It will teach us how to rise above merely materialistic and short-term goals, and how to be anchored in a more spiritual view of life.

The happiness of belonging to Christ – because it is so deep – usually comes upon us more gradually. It permeates our whole life, enabling us to bring all our thoughts, words, deeds, attitudes, ambitions under the same objective – to grow in love of God and achieve eternal life.

It enables us to grow in understanding of God’s ways, so that we come to want what He wants, and trust His will ahead of our own. This is a lifetime project because we find it very hard to surrender our will, but it is possible.

We no longer hide from God, but instead seek Him out.

We might be envious of the man who has the lottery ticket. But we are just as fortunate as he is - more so if he does not have faith - because we have the treasure worth selling everything else to obtain (Mt 13,44).

Very few people win lotteries, but the joy of knowing Christ is available to everyone.
Everyone has the ‘winning ticket’ somewhere nearby. It is just a matter of finding it – finding the right way to see reality; then to translate that into everyday life.

We are told to rejoice (epistle); now we see why. We must be happy if we possess the source of all happiness.

What about all the things that go wrong?

The same St Paul, who tells us to rejoice in Ph 4, also describes how much he suffers: We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Co 4,8-9)

The joy goes deeper than the suffering. The joy is eternal, the sufferings are temporary.
The joy is as permanent as God Himself. The joy links with the whole central purpose of our lives; the sufferings are distractions. The joy is the picnic; the suffering is just the ants at the picnic.

On Gaudete Sunday, we express how happy we are - even if we did not know it - and in expressing we come to know it.

There is enough for everyone in this case. We lose nothing if others have the same prize (knowledge of Christ); in fact we benefit even more in that case.

The joy is always going to win out. The knowledge of Christ makes all else seem small.

Furthermore I count all things to be but loss for the excellent knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but as dung, that I may gain Christ (Ph 3,8).

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