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The Unthinkable is Happening in the Church! Shepherds Have No Courage to Exhort Sinners ~ Sermon

Anonymous Priest Advent Sermon| The Daily Knight



"Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight His paths.”


Brethren in Christ our eagerly awaited Savior!

Behold Advent - of that special time of joyful and devout expectation of the coming of the Savior to the world. Time when all the earth cries out to the heavens: “Rorate coeli desuper, et nubes pluant justum!


How blessed we are to be gathered in this chapel – built by you as proof of your faith and indomitable spirit – to worship God in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of All Time - the Holy Mass of Apostolic Tradition – of the martyrs and saints - the greatest treasure of our Holy Catholic Church which we are determined to defend for it feeds us with pure faith and abundant blessings.


On this day, the readings of the word of God place before our eyes two great Biblical figures that play a key role in awaiting the coming of the Messiah. The first such figure is the great prophet Isaiah, who already 700 years before Christ called upon the heavens to send down a Redeemer and prophesied that “A Virgin shall conceive and bear a Son.” It is Isaiah who exhorts us in Advent to “prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths.” This is why Saint Paul refers to Isaiah’s prophecy in the First Reading: There shall be the root of Jesse, and He Who shall arise to rule the Gentiles...


And the second giant figure accompanying our Advent journey is the last and the greatest prophet of the Old Testament – John the Baptist. He is “the voice crying in the desert, the herald whom Our Lord describes in the Gospel by the words of Isaiah: ‘Behold, I send my messenger before Your face, who shall make ready Your way before You.’ And so what the prophet Isaiah foretold – John the Baptist accomplished – so that God’s plan of sending to us the Savior might be fulfilled.

The Gospel presents to us a dramatic picture of John the Baptist in prison. His time of preaching and baptizing in the desert is over. John was arrested by king Herod for preaching the truth with courage and unyielding to pressure even under the threat of death. Now John the Baptist knows that his mission is done. He prepared the way for the Messiah; pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God and then wished to decrease so that Our Lord might increase and fulfill HisMission of Salvation. And it is from prison that John sends out his disciples to Jesus with a surprising question: “Are you the one who is to come?”


John is doing this for his disciples for he wants them to follow Christ, as his own mission is done and death is near. They must go and receive the gift of salvation from the Savior –the One who was to come! John surely knew how Our Lord would respond and lead them to faith. Look what happened: Christ answered them in the words of the prophet Isaiah that were being fulfilled before their eyes and ears: “the blind regain their sight; the deaf hear; the mute speak; the poor have the good news proclaimed to them…” Those were the signs of the true Messiah proclaimed by the prophets. And Jesus tells those disciples – now go to John and tell him that! But it is not for the sake of John, but for their sakes; as they will be the ones who will now proclaim the great deeds being accomplished among them. Since they will say it; they will believe it! Now John has really achieved the final goal of his prophetic mission. The Gospel tells us that Lord Jesus praised John before all the people as “more than a prophet… This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before Your face, who shall make ready Your way before You.


It is fascinating that Our Lord used the words of Isaiah when praising John the Baptist. This confirmed the link between these two great figures of the Old Testament, and how each of them fulfilled the prophetic mission – one by foretelling the coming of the Messiah, and the other by preparing the way before Him and testifying to the truth by the sacrifice of his life.

Yet, Brethren, we must continue our meditation on John the Baptist for Our Lord called him also: “the greatest among those born of women” and so from his example, we need to draw important lessons for ourselves. If we grasp the reasons for John's greatness, we will understand why our world today desperately needs such witnesses of faith and how we must strive to emulate his virtues, especially humility and fidelity to the truth!


The first feature of John's greatness was humility - affirmed by total submission to God's will and not his own. John the Baptist truly understood what role God asked him to play-that of the one who prepares the way; who cries out in the desert; who points to the Messiah when He appears. It was not easy for John to accept a servant's role - for humility does not come easily to man!


But John showed his greatness by triumphing over his ego; by decreasing so that the Messiah might increase! And so John offers an amazing example of humility for us to emulate. For it is so difficult to deny oneself and submit to the will of God; especially since in our times so many people live as if God did not exist. We live in a culture fashioned by modern psychology, positing that the goal of life is self-actualization at all cost. The young generation is literally drowning in pop-cultural propaganda that life is about I; me, and myself. Nothing else matters!


And so John the Baptist appears as the anti-thesis of contemporary culture. He did not focus on himself; did not crave power or popularity. In a heroic struggle he defeated temptations and consciously chose to do God's will until the end! In this time of Advent, we must learn from John the Baptist how to practice the virtue of humility – the virtue of the saints.


The second virtue that made John great is fidelity to the truth! John was straightforward in what was saying and doing. Truth was for him the highest value, for which he was ready to give his life. Calling people to conversion and penance John had no fear in pointing out their sins and wickedness. Guided by the Holy Spirit he preached the truth that unrepented sins will lead a sinner to hell. How the world today needs such witnesses to the truth. Because our world is drowning in post-modernist political correctness denying the existence of objective truth and proclaiming only one absolute commandment - tolerance of everything and everyone (except of God and His Truth). We see how in our society people are afraid to speak the truth; afraid to affirm that there is good and evil; that human acts can be natural or unnatural; moral or immoral; praise-worthy or abhorrent! Such language has practically disappeared from our vocabulary and social discourse. John was courageously doing what the Catholic faith commands us to do as spiritual works of mercy: instruct the ignorant; counsel the doubtful; admonish sinners!


Yet in our society today this is almost unthinkable. Today - telling someone that he is sinning is considered an unpardonable affront.


John the Baptist was a man of integrity and moral virtue! He was a man of truth. Without fear he preached the necessity of penance for sins; he called upon people to live moral lives; to prepare the way of the Lord. To the immoral king Herod himself, John said in his face: "you cannot live in sin with your brother's wife."


Who would have the courage today to say that to the politicians and celebrities who wallow in immorality and pride themselves on it! Tragically, even the shepherds of the Church show little courage to admonish public sinners– in fact many western bishops call for the acceptance of abominable sodomite sins as good; openly claiming to bless “same-sex couples” –and the Vatican does not correct or punish it!

The unthinkable is happening in the Church! Shepherds have no courage to exhort sinners with the words of St. Paul: "Those who commit such sins are deserving of death - and will not inherit the Kingdom of God!


Today truth is forbidden for it may offend somebody. But what about the souls who plunge headlong into eternal fire? Who will be held accountable before God for their perdition?


This is why our world needs people like John the Baptist-morally upright, truthful and uncompromising. For we see our western Christian civilization in decline, because of the cowardice of our leaders, and apostasy of many bishops; but also we must strike our breasts – for so many people no longer want to hear voices of courage reminding us of absolute truths, of God's commandments, of the necessity of moral conduct and the need for repentance. What a shame - for no society can survive on rejecting truth and promoting immorality.


John the Baptist knew that, and so he became the voice crying in the desert. He remained faithful to the truth till the end! We must be like John the Baptist; we need to learn from him what we must be doing as people of faith in our times. To us also, truth must be the highest value, defended with courage even if the whole world be against us. God is with us! How we need to always remember the wise words of Bishop Fulton Sheen: "Truth is truth even when no one believes in it or no one likes it. Lies are lies even when everybody believes in them."


Advent places John the Baptist before our eyes so that we might look at ourselves in a spirit of penance and conversion and ask whether we are faithful to the truth or - because of fear or desire for comfort - we have embraced the lies of this world and delude ourselves that everything is all right!


The world today needs voices crying in the desert:

Repent! Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight His paths.”

Brethren in Christ our eagerly awaited Redeemer! Behold the Season of Advent, and we are so blessed to gather before the altar of God to worship Him in this Holy Sacrifice of the Mass of Apostolic Tradition - the Holy Mass we must defend against all attacks and threats. Today, the word of God places before our eyes John the Baptist -a great prophet but even more - a man of greatness for his humility and fidelity to the truth!


It is good that we are here, for we want to give witness to the truth of our faith that the Promised Messiah is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior of the world. We want to prepare the way of the Lord in our hearts, so that soon, on that night divine, we may sing with the choirs of angels: Gloria in excelsis Deo." May we pray for the grace of courage to bear witness to God's truth in our world, to be humble yet indomitable in spirit. What do we care if the world be against us? God is with us and His joy fills our hearts! Today we must be the voice crying in the spiritual desert of our contemporary world: Prepare ye the way! Make straight his paths! The Lord is near!

Amen.

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