Advent 3 (Gaudete)
Delivered By
Pr. Lovett
Delivered On
December 16, 2012
Central Passage
Matthew 11:2-10


In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Third Sunday of Advent is named Gaudete. It means “Rejoice”. It is the first word of the Introit, and it gives shape and form to the liturgy for today. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! Let your reason be known to all everyone. The Lord is at hand. But I can’t imagine that there is too much rejoicing going on today in our country or even throughout the world. Rather, there is great sorrow at the events that happened on Friday in Newton, Connecticut, or in 22 children and elderly who were knifed by a madman in China in the same week. Rejoicing just doesn’t seem to fit. More like sorrow and grief. The prophets words we just sung seem out of place: Comfort, comfort, ye my people, speak ye peace, thus saith our God. Tell her that her warfare is over.

Surely as John the Baptist sat in a madman’s prison – imprisoned because he preached the word of God – he wondered the same thing the whole world has been asking these last few days. The same question we asked on 9/11 and at Columbine and at Aurora, Colorado. The same question moms and dads ask as they pray for their little one in the NICU. Why, God?

Why this tragedy? Why the loss of such innocence? Why the devastation of so great an evil unleashed from the bowels of hell? If ever there was a demoniac – a man possessed by a demon – surely the murderer of children is such a one. Yet the Lord Jesus frees the demoniac. He doesn’t punish him. In fact, the Lord Himself bears the punishment for him on the cross; a cross forged by all the murders and evil acts ever committed from the murder of Able to the murder of those Sandy Hook Elementary children, to the untold billions of babies murdered in their mother’s wombs. The Lord receives all the just and righteous anger of God over the wicked and evil deeds done by men.

But still the question is not answered: why? Why let such evil out? Why not stay the hand of Herod who murdered countless infant boys in the streets of Bethlehem, ripped from their mother’s arms by Roman soldiers? Why not stay the plans of a Hitler or Stalin or Osama Bin Laden? Why not stop the rage of the madman who shot up a movie theater or an elementary school, or who fly planes into towers? Why not destroy those clinics of death that have murdered more babies than all wars, madmen, and tyrants combined; murdered by their own mothers? Why not end disease and bloodshed? Why, God!? Why such senseless and pointless tragedy?

We know why. Sin is why. Sin is why there is such evil. Sin is why madmen murder and why governments betray their citizens and why neighbor hurts and murders neighbor. Sin is why husbands leave their wives and why children are left as orphans. Not specific sins, per se, but the sin of mankind; rebellion against his Creator. Mankind has rebelled, and the price of rebellion is chaos, and chaos destroys everything. In fact, all specific sins are merely the result and outcome of the chief sin of man, rebellion against God.

But in his heart man cannot accept this. He cannot accept this answer that sin is the reason because in his heart man considers himself good and capable of goodness. Again, not merely good deeds, but an overall and deep seated goodness. In his heart of hearts, man thinks himself very good. So he rejects that sin is the reason why and looks for other reasons. Violence on TV, video games, drugs, gangs, and so forth. And because man thinks these are the reasons why such evil happens, man will look to gods who can solve these problems. He will look to Money to keep kids off the street and off drugs. He will look to Gun Control to keep weapons of death out of the hands of madmen. He will look to Government to control the actions and even the thoughts of men. He will look to Morality to judge and condemn and force men to comply with his man-made laws of tolerance, justice, and equality. Man will look to gods he has fashioned for a problem he thinks is outside himself.

But in the face of such evil, in the heart breaking hours that follow so gross and wicked and perverse things as what happened two days ago, these gods are silent. Money cannot answer the pain because money feels no pain. Gun Control cannot bring back those that have lost their lives to bullets. Morality cannot sympathize or bring good news because Morality has failed at keeping us moral. The American Dream and Prosperity and Pay It Forward, and all our other gods from which we seek blessings and good are deaf to our cries and mute to our pain. They are silent because they know nothing, feel nothing, and can do nothing. They are gods of wind and smoke, vapor and fog. And those who trust in them shall be put to shame, for when evil strikes and homes are devastated and we are robbed of joy and peace, these gods are useless and pathetic and from them all we get is divine silence.

Only the God who speaks can give answer. Only the God who fashioned man in His image can answer. Only He can give answer because only He has borne our sorrows and carried our grief. Only He became as we are. And on His lips we hear the voice of all mankind, issuing forth the cry of every suffering soul: My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?

It was the question of John who sat in prison. It is the question of the wife who sits alone because her husband has left her for another. It is the question of the child whose father and mother don’t want her. It is the question of the father who must now raise his children alone because the bullets of a madman took his wife. It is the question of every mother and father who must bury their child because the devil came in the form of a madman, a disease, a car wreck, a farming accident, or a birth defect; he came to kill, steal and destroy. His kingdom is chaos and he rules in fury because he knows his days are short.

And just as the Lord Jesus puts the question of mankind to voice, so He Himself is the answer. Here in the disparity of our hearts the Lord speaks His word of comfort: I AM. I am with you always, even unto the end of the age. And in this, we rejoice. The Lord is at hand.

I am with you when you suffer, for I suffer for you. I am with you when you die, for I died for you. I am with you in the grave, for I lay in the grave for you. I am with you when you weep, for I weep for you. I am with you when mourn, for I mourn for you. I am with you for I am one of you. I speak to you a better word than justice, a better word than retribution, a better word than vindication. I speak to you life, for I am the life of the world. I am the light shining in the darkness. I am the watchman keeping watch over my flock. I am the way, guiding you in the way of life. I am the resurrection, raising you from the clutches of death.

The same man who gave voice to all humanity, to all creation in the abandonment of God, is Himself the answer from God, the very voice from heaven; the word of God made flesh. Jesus is the God that breaks the silence. He is the God who does not abandon us, but lives in and with and among us. He is the word of God, and He stands forever. And by Him and in Him we find our comfort. In Him we find our life. In Him we find our love. In Him we find our peace. In Him we find our God. In Him our warfare is over.

Comfort, comfort, ye my people; speak ye peace, thus saith our God. Behold, O man, your peace.

In Nomine Iesu