Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily – 12-2-21

Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily – December 2, 2021
Homily for 1st Week of Advent, Thursday, 12-2-21, Year C
Readings: Is 26:1-6, Ps 25, Ps 118:1&8-9, 19-21, 25-27a, Gospel Mt 7:21, 24-27
Theme: Only the Just

We all can struggle with people who have double standards. They say one thing and then do another. They tell you that they will be there for you, but when the time comes and you need them, they are nowhere to be found. Similarly, there are some who hear Christ’s teachings, go to Mass every Sunday and give the impression they are living a life of faith, yet, outside of church they are the first to rip on someone behind their back, swear, or flip someone off while driving without thinking twice.

In a similar way there are some who are convinced of their own righteousness. Although they do not have a double standard, their one standard is so high that only they can attain it. In their eyes, everyone else is flawed in some way and cannot measure up.

In the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in the Gospel of Luke (18:9-14), Jesus addresses those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despise everyone else. In this parable the Pharisee and tax collector enter the temple together. The Pharisee goes to the front and boasts to God that he is doing everything as commanded and thanks God that he is not like the dishonest tax collector he came in with. But the tax collector stays behind, in the back of the temple, and puts his head down. He knows he is not worthy to be there, but realizes he needs to account for his sins and humbles himself before God. As Jesus says, “the latter went home justified, not the former.”

In today’s readings, Isaiah is saying something similar. The land of Israel had many kings who didn’t follow God’s teachings and were punished because of it. During Isaiah’s time, a new Israel emerged from the sinful one and was justified because those remaining were the poor who had true humility in the face of God and His teachings, much like the Tax Collector in Luke’s parable above.

Jesus too, in a way, tells us today that just attending church and going through the motions is not enough to get us into Heaven. We must believe and live our faith, always acting the same whether in church or outside of it. Those who are convinced of their own righteousness and boast about it, putting others beneath them, will have another thing coming.

We must do what we say we will do. We must walk the walk and talk the talk, trusting: “in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock.” I would like you to consider this. When you are going about your day, in every situation you come across, think about what you would say or how you would react if you were kneeling in church in front of the blessed sacrament rather than being where you are such as the grocery store, work or in your car. Would your reaction be different? Nine times out of ten, for most of us, it would be. 

Being a disciple of Christ requires that we live our life of faith in everything we do, not just in the temple or church. None of us are perfect and none of us are righteous enough to ever boast about it. But, by being humble and recognizing our own frailties, weaknesses, and understanding that, in the sight of God, we are all the same, no matter our station in life or the riches of our household, will we gain the favor of Christ and be accepted by Him on the last day.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL