Sunday, December 7, 2008
Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent - December 7
Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
2 Peter 3:8-14
In the first scripture today Isaiah calls for comfort and tenderness.
In the second lesson Peter calls for righteousness.
At first glance Isaiah’s offer may seem the better one
but it just might be that you can’t have one without the other:
that righteousness and tender comfort are inseparable,
that each leads to the other.
How much this world of ours,
how much our nation and culture,
how much each of us is in need of comfort.
But this isn’t the comfort that comes from the stability
of position or portfolio, privilege or possessions.
This is the comfort that comes from knowing deep in our hearts,
that we are at peace with God,
that we live in a right relationship with God and with others.
And that, of course, is nothing less than righteousness:
to stand in a right relationship with God and neighbor.
We find the comfort, the tenderness God offers us
when we clear the path along which God comes into our lives
and on which we make our way into life with God.
Christmas celebrates God’s straight-shot highway into our hearts.
Christmas is the feast of God’s intimacy with humankind.
It’s curious, then, and confounding how at this time of the year
our attention can so easily focus on things that bring
no real comfort, precious little tenderness -
things that, in the end, mean the least.
Our being here on the Lord’s Day is at the heart of our desire
to be in a right relationship with God
but our being here for an hour a week is not enough.
Here, we need to open our selves, our hearts and our minds, to God,
and “fill up” on the word, the song, the prayer, the grace
of this moment, so much that it spills over into the week ahead,
continually drawing us to the Lord
and how he asks us to live the days between these weekend visits.
The comfort such prayer affords
is not the nicety of a problem-free week
- no matter how much we’d like to have one.
The comfort the Lord offers is his presence at our side
in every problem and trouble the week ahead might bring.
The Word of God became human at Christmas
not to make of life a bowl of cherries
but to be God-with-us in every difficulty we encounter.
To stand in a right relationship with God
is to value his faithful presence above all else
and no greater, more tender comfort can be ours
than to know that God is always with us.
To live righteously with our neighbor
is to live throughout the week the moment of Holy Communion:
the moment at Mass when we are all one, without distinction,
in the one Bread, the one Cup of the Eucharist.
As the Lord invites each of us to his table,
with all our faults and failings,
so he asks each of us to invite everyone into our hearts -
including those who most annoy and offend us.
The Lord promises us his tender comfort
but also asks us to prepare the way, to make a path
for his comfort to come and settle within us.
And that will demand the righteousness of:
filling in the valleys of envy and selfishness,
leveling the mountains of arrogance and anger,
and smoothing the bumps
and filling in the potholes of the many roads
that connect us with one another – and with God.
We are about to go to the altar of the Lord’s comfort,
the table where God is always with us.
May the word and sacrament we receive here
generously fill us and overflow
into the days of the week ahead of us
that we might be and bring comfort,
that we might speak tenderly,
to all we know and meet.
Posted by Austin Fleming at 2:22 PM