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Sunday, December 13, 2015

REJOICE! Our Lord is Coming Again Soon!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
3rd Sunday in Advent, Dec.13, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

Rejoice! Our Lord is coming again soon! 
Pope Benedict XVI in rose-colored
Gaudete Sunday vestments

Today we celebrate the third Sunday of Advent. The Church uses the rose color as a sign of rejoicing. We have come past the halfway mark of Advent, and now we enter into the final stretch, and so we rejoice because the celebration of Christmas is on our doorstep!

Much of the world does not rejoice in the days in which we live today. We turn on the news and we see shooting after shooting -- another  terrorist attack. Many want to destroy life. Meanwhile, more and more fall into deep immorality and sin.

However, despite the darkness of the times in which we live, today’s celebration gives us a time to rejoice. 

As we see the immorality of our days descend as a dark cloud over the societies of the world, we rejoice because we know that this darkness has been overcome, and this increasing darkness in our world today will soon be extinguished when Our Lord comes again in His glory. 

Our part is to be prepared. Our Lord will come again, and He means business. As John the Baptist says in today’s Gospel (Luke 3:10-18): "His [Our Lord’s] winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat
Michelangelo's Last Judgment scene from the Sistine Chapel
into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” 

John the Baptist knew the power of the One who was coming and has come into our world. John the Baptist says, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

My brothers and sisters, although John the Baptist prepared the people for Our Lord’s first coming, it is Jesus' Second Coming that awaits the fulfillment of John the Baptist’s ministry.
Our Lord is coming again, and He will baptize the world with the Holy Spirit and fire! Those who accept God’s grace will be given the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Those who reject God’s grace will be cast into everlasting fire. We need not to fear the times in which we live today as long as we are prepared. 

In today’s Gospel the crowds ask John the Baptist, “What should we do?” 

Then we hear John addresses each of them according to their own circumstance of life. He tells the tax collectors to “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” He tells the soldiers to not practice extortion. He says those who have more should share with those who have less. John the Baptist exhorted the people in many other ways, and he preached the good news.
 The bottom line of today’s Gospel is that Our Lord is coming again and that we need to change direction! 

As you are aware, Pope Francis has called for a year of mercy. This is the year to ask for the mercy of God upon our societies and world today. We need conversion. We need change of hearts because the world is at a critical moment in history. Things are going to continue to get worse, and in these last days God wants to save as many souls as possible.

Most of you are aware of the life of Saint Faustina, who was asked by Jesus to spread the devotion to His Divine Mercy. Saint Faustina was a young uneducated nun who lived in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930s. She came from a poor family that struggled during the years of World War I.

She had little education. However, she received extraordinary revelations — or messages — from Jesus. She was told that we are approaching a difficult time in human
St. Faustina Kowalska,
The Apostle of Divine Mercy
history and we need to seek God’s mercy. Therefore this message of mercy was not given to our Church without reason. No! Our Lord gave us His message of mercy to prepare us for His final coming. 

My brothers and sisters, we are living in the last days of this present world, and Our Lord is coming again to judge heaven and earth. He will gather the wheat into his barn and the chaff He will 
burn in a fire that will never go out.

God doesn’t want to bring judgment upon the world. In fact, He doesn’t bring judgment. We bring judgment upon ourselves. God sent His Son to save those who answer His call to repentance. That is God's merciful love. 

Repentance is the key to mercy. There are many in our Church today who follow a false mercy. They think that God will have mercy on us even though we continue to live a sinful lifestyle that contradicts God’s teaching and the teaching of the Church He has given to us. Do not follow this lie, brothers and sisters. Do not presume to receive God’s mercy! 

Whoever lives a lifestyle that is not of God cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven. As Catholics, God calls us to separate ourselves from the world. We live in the world but not of the world.

Our Lord is coming again, and we need to prepare. Until our Lord comes, we will have more difficulties. Things will get worse, and they will get worse quickly! We will struggle as the darkness of this world becomes darker. 

But, as long as we are seeking Our Lord’s mercy by striving for truth and reconciliation, He will take care of us. Let us not fall into the trappings of the world of today. But let us prepare for the new world that is to come. Let us rejoice! For our Lord is coming again soon!

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