Jesus Christ Is Coming to Town

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent
Preached on December 12-13, 2009 at Holy Spirit Parish/The Newman Center at the University of Kentucky, Lexington KY
Readings: Zephaniah 3:14-18a; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere else except at the Newman Center. You look around this place and it’s screaming Advent: the wreath with the candles, the purple and the pink, the absence of trees, poinsettias, lights, and ornaments that are on sale at every department store. That’s what we have here: Advent. Well, I want to give our Advent waiting a little bit of excitement by having us sing a carol, one that is every child’s favorite:

You better watch out. You better not cry.
You better not pout. I’m telling you why.
Santa Claus is coming to town.
He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice,
gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you’re sleeping.
He knows when you’re awake.
He knows if you’ve been bad or good.
So be good for goodness sake.

I have always loved this carol ever since I was a little boy. I think it brings that age-old excitement in the hearts of children of all ages. It tells us the good news: Santa is coming soon with his gifts. So unless you want to get a sock full of coal, you better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. Be good for goodness sake.

John the Baptist is sort of telling the same thing to that crowd in the Gospel. He says, you better share your extra cloak and your food (cf. Lk. 3:11). You better not steal. You better not lie. You better not practice extortion (cf. Lk. 3:13-14). God’s got a list and He’s checking it twice. If you’ve been naughty and bad, there’s the unquenchable fire. If you’ve been nice and good, there’s the barn party (cf. Lk. 3:17). So be good for goodness sake.

But John the Baptist also reminds of another thing: that in our excitement, in our expectation, we need to remember what this season is all about. It’s not because John might be the Christ (cf. Lk. 3:15) and it’s not because Santa Claus is coming to town. Neither John the Baptist nor Santa Claus is the reason for the season. These two Advent saints remind us to get our act together because “the Lord is near” (Phil. 4:5). Jesus is coming to town! He watches over us when we’re sleeping. He guides us when we’re awake. He knows if we’ve been bad or good. And He comes for goodness’ sake.

So, you better not cry. “Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!” (Zp. 3:14) You better not pout. “Sing joyfully, O Israel!” (Zp. 3:14) I’m telling you why: Jesus Christ is coming. And you better watch out for the overflowing grace He brings.

~ by Fr. Noel F. Zamora on Sunday, December 13, 2009.

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