Second Sunday of Advent

Homily Video

Second Sunday of Advent Homily Transcript

>>John the Baptist. John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey. Wearing a coat of camel fur. Why do you do these things? Why locusts and wild honey? Well, that was the fruit of the desert. But also, that’s because that’s what Elijah ate – about 600 years before John the Baptist. Why did John wear camel fur? Was it for a fashion statement? It was because simply, John the Baptist wore it because Elijah had worn it – again 600 years earlier. No real strong theological or again fashionable reason for this.  

John is in the figure of Elijah the Prophet, and we read about Elijah of course, in the Old Testament. Elijah was doing these specific things. There had been a prophecy that before the Messiah, Elijah was going to return. Like we all know, John the Baptist is the forerunner to the Messiah, and he’s coming in the form of Elijah.  

Now, why did Elijah then do these things? Well, again, we said locusts, wild honey, simply the fruit of the desert. Elijah was a man of the desert, of prayer, of solitude. And occasionally he would be called out by God from his abode in the desert to go deal with the kings of Israel. Otherwise, again, he had his greatest influence by praying and interceding for the people. John the Baptist would do this, too.  

For many, many years before he was baptizing on the Jordan River, he was praying in the desert, eating locusts and wild honey. And the camel fur was kind of interesting as well. Camel fur has sort of like unique thermodynamic static properties that allow the animal to stay cool during the day, during the hot desert days, while keeping warm at night during the cool desert nights. So the camel fur allowed John to live. And then why did John wear a leather belt around his waist? I mean, why does Matthew find a need to include this detail of a leather belt? It doesn’t seem that significant. Well, the reason was John’s camel fur was like it’s kind of like what I’m wearing here, but even bigger.  

And so, what would John or Elijah would do is because they didn’t have a home in the desert, they literally were just wrapped themselves in the camel fur, kind of put it over their head like a tent, and they would use the bell to keep themselves secure at night. But then, they weren’t just sleeping under the tent and during the day they would move and so like they’d have to run.  

So, there’s a scene where in Elijah as to run down the mountain and John the Baptist would have to move in haste at times. And so it’s kind of hard to run in this thing. So the leather belt allowed them to kind of tie it up, sort of gird up their loins and get going for the move. So some practical reasons here.  

Now, I’m mentioning all this because they’re their images for us for this season of Advent. John the Baptist, of course, is a great icon. So first, he spent time in the desert, sort of prayed, pray each day in solitude, intercede for people in your life. Again, that’s a wonderful act, wonderful gift you can give to your loved ones.  

We’re in the season of gift giving, aren’t we, so to pray for them. To wrap yourself in that camel fur, kind of seclude yourself in. But don’t be afraid when God calls you out to go do something of charity to run down the mountain using that leather belt around your waist. What’s cool? Back to that leather – Back to the camel fur or the camel coat that Elijah was wearing. The story goes when Elijah chooses his successor, the prophet Elisha. Elisha asks for that, that garment. And what Elijah does is he actually he takes the garment off the leather, the camel fur and he throws it into the Jordan River, believe it or not, and the Jordan River miraculously parts and they’re able to walk dry shod across the Jordan River while Elijah and then Elijah is taken up in a fire chariot to the heavens.  

Elisha, if you’re following me still, picks up that camel fur and wears it. He’s the new prophet. And then Elisha got rid of that camel fur too. He threw it in the Jordan River. Now, I don’t know if that’s the same camel fur that John the Baptist picked up. It could have been.  

But either way, metaphorically speaking, may we pick up that camel fur, put us put it on be prophets and prophetess as pray for each other and spend some quiet time with God in these weeks before Christmas. Amen. 


First Reading:

Is 11:1-10

Second Reading:

Rom 15:4-9


Mt 3:1-12 (4)

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