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Preaching About Me - Advent 3

+Archbishop James Ssssslisbury Jr., OSB.
Greetings in the name of our Lord JESUS Christ, 
GOSPEL LK 3:10-18
The crowds asked John the Baptist,
"What should we do?"
He said to them in reply,
"Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise."
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
"Teacher, what should we do?"
He answered them,
"Stop collecting more than what is prescribed."
Soldiers also asked him,
"And what is it that we should do?"
He told them,
"Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages."
Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
"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.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.
(The Gospel is no) respecter of persons. 
It differs from People magazine in that way. 
It couldn't care who you are…. 
Its message is always the same: 
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Garrison Keillor
I often hear persons say you were preaching about me this Sunday.  My response is that if you hear the voice of the Lord today do not harden your heart.  In America we like to come to church to be entertained and not hear the hard words of the scriptures.  St. John the Baptist is giving us the hard words today and we are required to do after hearing these words.  We are to repent and turn around and away from sin.  We are to respect our brothers and sisters, we are to help those who are standing in need.
In today’s Gospel, John, the fiery, uncompromising reformer, first lashes out at those who come to be baptized: “Brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?”  He then tells them that their election as children of Abraham will do little good without the fruits of repentance, for every three that does not bear fruit will be thrown into the fire.  John later resumes this theme when he points to the coming “mightier one” (Jesus), whose winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor, so the chaff will be burned with unquenchable fire.
John is strangely moderate.  He urges people to use their possessions kindly and justly, telling the crowds to share their clothing with those in need, advising hated tax collectors simply to be honest in collecting taxes, and soldiers not to exploit people and to be content with their (often minimal) wages.  Since these verses are found only in Luke, most likely the Evangelist inserted them here to adjust John’s teaching to one of the major themes of the Gospel and Acts, that great wealth can be an obstacle to following Jesus, while proper use of goods should characterize the true disciple.
What is our obstacle today, this third Sunday of Advent to truly wanting to hear the good news even if it touch our hearts to repent and make a change?
For all of those who are concerned that our clergy are not preaching the entertainment gospel please remember this, we are Orthodox Catholic Christians.  All true Christian preaching is expository preaching.  To expound Scripture is to bring out of the text what is there and expose it to view.  The expositor prizes open what appears to be closed, makes plain what is obscure, unravels what is knotted and unfolds what is tightly packed.  The opposite of exposition is ‘imposition’, which is to impose on the text what is not there.  (John R.W. Stott).
If the clergy preach the word of God and you hear it please don’t think the preacher is just preaching to you.  Remember the clergy person is the “paper boy,” we bring the news, the Holy Spirit of God is the one who pricks your heart to do the will of God.
Would you rather your clergy not tell you about the Good News?  John had just told them that if they didn’t do the right things, they would burn in Hell.  That doesn’t exactly sound like good news.  God had done his part.  Jesus would do his part.  All these people would have to do was to believe it – and to live it.  Then salvation would be theirs.  That was good news.
In our Western African Orthodox Churches the Gospel is brought down to the center of the church among the people and chanted by the Deacon.  After reading the Gospel it is then announced by the Deacon “Let those who have ears to hear let them hear and hearts to receive let them receive.
And Do.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
In the Master’s Yoke,
+Archbishop Metropolitan James Salisbury Jr., OSB.

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