Sunday, December 8, 2013

A lamb and a lion walked into a bar...

Peaceable Kingdom with Two Olives by Will Bullas (used with permission)


Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily


In churches and in other places, too,
we’ll be hearing a lot in the days ahead about
 “the real meaning” of Christmas.
We’ll be reminded that “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
And that’s true.
But that begs another question: “What was the reason for Jesus?”

Why Jesus?
Why did the Word of God become flesh?
Why was God’s Word born in human flesh, the Son of Mary,
some 2,000 years ago.
What’s the reason for Jesus?

We’re just a few weeks away from Jesus’ birthday,
but the scriptures we just heard don’t mention anything Christmassy.
Bethlehem’s not in there.
No lodging places with No Vacancy signs.
No stable.  No angels, shepherds, or magi.
No little drummer boy-pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.

And instead of a partridge in a pear tree
we find a curious zoo of a scene
where wolves entertain lambs,
where leopards and young goats nap together,
where calves and lions take leisurely walks
while a little child guides their way.
Here a cow and a bear are neighbors,
lions eat hay not prey
and toddlers toy with venomous snakes.

Isaiah’s dream of God’s holy mountain.

And speaking of snakes,
there’s a brood of vipers in the gospel –
but they’re the human kind, not the creepy-crawly.
So, what’s with the menagerie?

What we have here are images of the irreconcilable
– being reconciled.
Natural enemies become friends.  Predators become playmates.
Opposites become companions.  Adversaries live in peace.
The irreconcilable are reconciled and THAT, says Isaiah,
is a sign that the reign of God is coming upon us.

Well, if that’s a sign of the kingdom,
it seems we’ve got a long way to go -
-or it would seem that way –
if it weren’t for Jesus, the reason for the season;
if it weren’t for Jesus and the reason for his coming.
Jesus came to reconcile:
to reconcile all of humankind and the whole of creation
with the Creator.
To reconcile us to himself, God became one like us
in the person, in the flesh, in the Spirit of Jesus.

Jesus is the reason for the season
and the reason for Jesus
is that we might be at peace with God.
It’s true that the wolves and lambs and the cows and bears
and the snakes haven’t got the message yet.

But we have – or so we claim as Christians –
and it falls to us to reconcile the irreconcilable in Christ’s love.
In this Advent-Christmas season each of us might ask,
 “Who and what appear to be the irreconcilables in my life?
in my family? in my neighborhood? in my church?
in my politics? where I work and where I go to school?”
What resentments and grudges, ideologies and prejudices
keep me from being at peace with others
with whom I need to be reconciles in my life?
Or am I running the risk of joining that “brood of vipers,”
those who pose as faithful but fail to live reconciling lives?

We’re called to ask these questions individually and as nations.
Remember last Sunday’s scripture
where Isaiah called us to beat our swords into farming tools?
The global community mourns the death of Nelson Mandela.
Like the rest of us, he had his faults, too,
but even Pope Francis remembers him as a man dedicated to
 “non-violence, truth and reconciliation,”
- reconciling the irreconcilable in his homeland.

If Christmas is in someway about giving presents,
it’s about the gift of peace that comes when we reconcile
- especially with that which seems irreconcilable.

Of course sometimes, what’s broken is beyond repair.
(Sometimes you can’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.)

But never beyond a reconciling spirit is remorse for harm we’ve done,
contrition for our failings and the desire to hold in love
even those who hold us in great disdain.

Jesus, the reason for the season:
the great living, dying, rising sign of peace being made
between God and creation and all of us.
His taking flesh in Mary’s womb and his birth in Bethlehem
began a reconciliation that is born again in our hearts
every time we forgive,
every time we are forgiven,
every time we reconcile with one another and with God.

Isaiah’s dream of the kingdom
where all are safe on God’s holy mountain
is meant to tease us to dream, to desire
the peace that’s already ours in Jesus, the Lord.
The reason for the season is to celebrate Jesus
in whom all is reconciled, in whom all peace has been made.
           
And to his table he calls us now to celebrate that supper
in which the reconciling gift of his love for us on the Cross
is shared with us again in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist.

It’s in Jesus that we have hope of forgiveness of our failings.
It’s in Jesus that we are reconciled and come to peace again with God.

This is the season of grace
- and Jesus is the reason for the season.           


 

     
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful homily and I love your visual!

Rosemary