3rd Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 15, 2019
Fr. Kyle
Homily transcription: 

God created us for happiness.  So are you happy?  As we continue our journey through the 4 weeks of Advent, we continue our journey looking at the 4 cardinal virtues.  This week I want to talk about the virtue of fortitude and how John the Baptist is a great example of this virtue.

Fortitude is the virtue of strength to do the good and right thing especially when it is difficult.  For instance, it is good and right to study for exams, but in the midst of so many tests and papers it would be much easier to just slack off or give up.  In many areas of life, we fail to do the good and right thing because we a shackled by fear and weakness.  Fortitude sets us free from fear and weakness, and makes it possible to live a life of authentic freedom and happiness. 

The virtue of Fortitude has 4 quasi integral parts that can be found in the second part of the second part of St. Thomas’ Summa in question 128, article 1.  I just say that because I want to sound really smart.  Anyway, I would like to propose how John the Baptist who we have been hearing about in the gospel readings for Advent, shows us these parts of the virtue of fortitude and how they apply to our lives of authentic freedom and love. 

Confidence.  His confidence is not in himself.  It is in the one coming after him.  Likewise, our confidence should be in God alone.  We should not be frightened by our own weakness.  We should not be surprised by our weakness because our strength is in the one who is coming.  Christ

Magnificence.  This is the courage to embark on an undertaking with a particularly high and noble purpose.  John the Baptist didn’t just put up a couple of flyers about Jesus’ coming and call it good.  No he set our to tell everyone about Christ’s coming and to baptize them.  In our lives, there is a big difference between my life’s aspirations to ski every major mountain in the western hemisphere and a life’s aspirations to help alleviate hunger in the western hemisphere.  Both are difficult, but only the second one is truly magnificent because it is noble. 

Patience.  This is a prolonged endurance of a difficult thing for a long time.  Not only do we see this in John the Baptist in his preaching ministry but even after he is arrested.  In today’s gospel we hear that he is in prison and he still hasn’t given up.  He sends his disciples to Jesus with a question.  Given the many set backs and falls that we have in life, it can be easy to be trapped in despair and hopelessness.  Patience is the strength that frees us from this. 

Perseverance.  In particular, this part of the virtue of fortitude has to do with giving everything, every drop all the way until the end.  Of course, we know that John the Baptist continued even to the day he had his head chopped off.  He gave everything to the end.  The good news is that we probably won’t have to have our heads chopped off, but our reputation might be wounded; we may be judged for what we believe and preach and do.  Are we willing to endure that kind of persecution to the end?  Perseverance sets us free to give everything to the end.

In the face of so many dangers, obstacles and fears… and exams… it is easy to give up or slack off in doing what the good and right thing.  But John the Baptist shows us what we are capable of.  He shows us that through the virtue of fortitude it is possible to overcome the fears and weakness so that we might be free to experience greatness and authentic happiness.

God created us for happiness.  So are you happy?