12/1/13

Homily for December 1



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

Audio for homily


Got your tree up yet? I have a wreath on the door.

I saw folks in their yards hanging lights this weekend. 

Did you go out shopping yesterday?
All of these things are fine in themselves
unless and until we begin to mistake the trappings of Christmas
for its real meaning;
unless and until Advent gets lost in the Christmas rush.

Try to imagine for a moment: what would happen
if we took away Santa and all the presents,

all the decorations and lights,
all the spending and shopping and partying?
What would be left of Christmas? What would we have?

What would we do?
Would the meaning of Christmas be any less real?

Would the meaning of Christmas be, indeed, more real?

These scriptures we just heard pose some hard questions for us
but they point us in the right direction for Advent –

and therefore for Christmas as well.

Isaiah asked a tough one.
He asked if we’re remaking our weaponry into farm tools?
Are we training for war - no more?
Are the nations of the world dedicated to making the peace
Isaiah dreamed of - and called us to make?


And what if we scale down from the international to our own lives?
Are you and I laying down the weapons 

of long-standing disagreements?
the artillery of resentments and old grudges?
Are we willing to put aside the swords, the words of anger

that arm and divide us in our families? in our neighborhoods?
in our own parish?

Movement towards reconciliation and peace:
that’s the business of Advent

and it wasn’t on sale for 40% off  on Black Friday anywhere.

Are we following St. Paul’s advice to “throw off the works of darkness?”
- the words and deeds, the fantasies and relationships
(business and social)
that we’re not proud of? that embarrass and shame us?

Are we putting on the “armor of light,” living and working and playing
honestly, justly and charitably?
That’s the work of Advent.


When it comes to our spiritual lives:
are we awake, as Paul calls us to be?
Or are we dozing, napping, asleep at the switch?
What will it take to wake us, shake us,
to rouse us out of our spiritual complacency?

In this season of “giving and getting”
what rivalry, jealousy and envy shape our expectations
and misshape our hearts’ desires?
Or are we working towards acceptance of who we are
and contentment with what we have?
That’s the agenda of Advent.

Much more than “getting a birthday party ready for Jesus”
Advent is meant to be a season to help us

wake up and shape up,
to rouse us to be ready to meet Jesus:
who has already come,
who is with us, not just at the end of December,
but every day of the year;
Jesus who will come again -- at the moment of our death
and at the end of time.


Advent is a season to prepare for, if you will
– to rehearse for - meeting Jesus.
In a crèche in our living room or at church?     Sure, there too.
But more importantly to prepare ourselves to meet Jesus
in the ordinary day in and day out so that when he comes,
on that day, at that hour unknown to us,
we will be prepared to meet him

and ready for his review of our lives.

You know: Jesus will be no more present on Christmas Day
than he is today, December 1.
But good preparation for the known date of Christmas
gives us an opportunity to pray and prepare for
the unknown day and the unknown hour each of us will face.

An important part of our “rehearsing” for Christ’s return
is our outreach to those in need.
We have the Giving Trees at this time of year,

not just to make sure everyone gets a gift,
but to remind us that we should be harvesting
a forest of giving trees all year ‘round
-- because caring for the poor is what followers of Jesus do

while they wait for his return.

What would Christmas look like
if we took away the decorations and the presents?
It would look like people waiting, not for some thing,

but waiting for someOne whose love is greater than any gift
we might imagine or hope for.


That's what Christians wait for in Advent.
That’s what we wait for every day of our lives.
We wait for Jesus
even as we wait for him this morning at this altar.

As Christ came to Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago,
he comes to this table every time we celebrate the Eucharist.

May the Eucharist and this season of Advent
ready our hearts for the day when we will meet Jesus
and strengthen us to ready the world for his return.




 

     
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