Homily for November 29

Seasons of the Heart by Jennifer Page

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

Audio for homily

Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that
Thanksgiving snuck up on us  this year, taking us by surprise?
And here we are now,
some of us with turkey and cranberry still on our breath,
and it’s the First Sunday of Advent already!

The change in color and the addition of wreaths and candles here
remind us that we’ve entered a new season on the church calendar.
But I’m wondering tonight about some other seasons.
Not the seasons marked and announced on calendars
but rather, I’m wondering about the seasons of our hearts…

My heart has seasons.  I’ll bet yours does, too.
My heart has many seasons:  some last only a few days;
others drag on for weeks and months.
The seasons of my heart may –or may not-
coincide with nature’s seasons.

And so it is that my heart might enjoy a summery warmth
in the middle of January,
or feel the nip of a cold-shouldered frost in early August.
My heart might grieve
and my tears drop like falling leaves in the spring time,
while peace might bloom like a rose in late November.

The seasons of the heart 
pay little attention to the weather report
and none at all to the calendar.

These inner seasons come and go year ‘round
with high and low pressure systems
that shape my heart’s climate.

So, as we enter the season of Advent this weekend
(with Christmas and a new year just around the corner)
I’m wondering what seasons are weathering our souls,
yours and mine, tonight?

Is it summer, fall, winter or spring in our heart of hearts? 

Is my heart getting ready for Christmas?  or wary of its approach?
Whatever the clime within us,
we bring our hearts to this first day of Advent,
to a season for preparing to ready the way
for Jesus to enter our hearts.

Like the seasons of our souls,
Jesus pays no attention to the weather or the calendar.
In any and every season 
he is ready to make his home within us:
to warm what’s chilled; to put our grief to rest;
to refresh what has wilted; and to stir up life new life and spirit.
An inner season of worry and fear
may keep me from lifting my heart in Christmas joy.
I may not yet be ready to surrender my grief to healing.
My heart may be too blue to think of new beginnings.

But no matter. 
No matter the season or the mood  /   in my heart or yours,
Jesus comes in season and out of season,
in good times and in bad,  in sickness and in health,
in hope and hopelessness, in sorrow and in joy.

When I need him most and least expect him:
Jesus is coming into my heart and yours.
Not just at Christmas, not just in Advent, 
not just in December,
but 24/7/365.

Many of us, especially the younger among us,
are looking forward to Christmas with great and joyful anticipation.
Some of us… not so much!  That’s understandable.
But there begins today a season inviting all our hearts to open up
and prepare a way for the Lord to enter.

• A season to remember, with Jeremiah, that the days are coming
when the Lord will fulfill his promise to keep us safe and secure.

• A season to remember, with St. Paul, the Lord’s desire
to strengthen our hearts in love,
to help us lead lives pleasing to God.

• A season to keep vigil for signs of Jesus’ coming,
not so much in the sun, the moon and the stars,
but in our hearts in the midst of all our troubles and joys.

• Advent: a season meant to prepare us
to weather all the seasons of our hearts,
whatever the season in our hearts this night.

The “holiday season” all around us,
the “commercial season” tapping our bank accounts,
the “social season” of decorations, gifts and parties –
none of these are particularly beneficial
in helping us welcome Jesus into our hearts.

What is helpful is finding some quiet time in Advent
to sit with the Lord in prayer and share with him
the signs of the season in our hearts just now.

What’s helpful is not buying, consuming
and filling up on everything
- but rather - emptying ourselves out to make room,
for Jesus to come in to our hearts
and make himself to home there.

That’s what Christmas is all about:
Jesus coming to make his home among us and within us.

What’s helpful is doing whatever we can to avoid
extravagance and over-indulgence in giving to those
who already have so much, who already have too much,
but rather doing whatever we can to reach out to those
who have so little.

So, whatever might be the season in your heart or mine tonight,
the question is, will we welcome in the season of Advent?
Will we welcome a season of preparing to welcome
the presence and the peace of Jesus within us?
Will we try to spend at least part of the next four weeks
focusing not so much on things whose shelf-life is so short
but on those realities that can and do last forever?

The greatest Christmas gift ever given or received
is God’s gift of love to us in Jesus:
in his gospel, in his death and resurrection,
and in the sacrament of his presence at this altar.

As we receive this gift in Communion today,
may it change the seasons of our hearts
to welcome Christ
who comes to bring us a season 
of healing and hope and peace.


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