Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent
(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for homily
Is there anything that stands in the way of your having
the best Christmas possible?
Is there a desert, a parched land of sadness or grief or disappointment
that stands between you and the peace and joy of Christmas?
Is there a problem, a difficulty, an anxiety, a burden you carry,
or some worry or anxiety weighing on your heart;
Is there a grudge, a resentment, a broken relationship
that blinds or deafens or weakens you on your walk through Advent
to the coming season of merriment, peace and joy?
Is there an unanswered prayer, an unfulfilled dream, a hope not realized
that tries your faith and your patience?
Does something inside you wait and long to hear some good news?
All the things I’ve just mentioned can make of Christmas
a season that intensifies the brokenness some folks live with
and the burdens some souls carry day to day.
These feelings, these problems, these concerns seem just what no one
would want to experience at this time of year - and yet…
And yet, it’s for people in just these circumstances,
and in one way or another - that’s all of us.
And it’s for just these reasons that God’s Word became flesh
and was born, an innocent, beautiful child,
in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago.
What a shame it would be if we let all the tinsel and glitter
and the Ho-Ho-Ho back us into darkened corners
and keep us from meeting the One who came precisely
to quench our thirst for joy,
to rescue us from deserts of despair,
to lighten the load we bear,
to anoint the wounds of our worry,
to encourage us in our fears,
to heal hearts burdened and broken by grief and loss,
to open our eyes to what is yet to be,
to speak a word of promise and hope,
to be the answer to our prayers
when it seems that our prayer has no answer…
• The birth of Jesus is God’s response to the pain and brokenness
all of us know at one time or another -or even often- in our lives.
• The life of Jesus is the bridge God builds to help us survive
when the path we walk seems too treacherous to tread,
or beckons us to short-cuts neither healthy nor wise,
or when our path seems a dead end with no way out.
• The gospel of Jesus is God’s Word of Wisdom
spoken to help us discern what’s true, what’s just,
what’s honorable, what’s pure,
what’s right, what’s real, what’s truly good for us and for others.
• And the suffering and death of Jesus
show us the depths of God’s love for us and assure us
that regardless of how dire our straits, how low our spirits,
how heavy our burdens, how difficult the journey,
these are precisely the paths that lead us to peace,
the peace promised to all and given now, finally,
to those who attend to the birth, the life, the truth, the mystery
of the child born in a stable in Bethlehem.
Your problems and difficulties
may be keeping your spirits low these days
but don’t hesitate in this Advent time to lift up your burdens
to the One who offers to carry them on his back
and rejoice, yes rejoice, not in any sorrow or pain that may be yours
but in the One who comes from God,
who is himself no stranger to all that weighs us down.
Now, f you’re in great spirits tonight with nary a care in the world -
God love you, God bless you!
And please, don’t let my thoughts here diminish your seasonal joy.
Likewise, if you resonate with what I’ve said,
don’t let my words make your load any heavier than it already is.
Rather, let’s all of us come to the Lord’s Table, the altar of his love,
for he offers us here what he offered on the Cross
and what he offered in his birth at Bethlehem:
his presence among us, his word and wisdom,
his Body and Blood, his mercy and his love
all that we might find joy when our hearts are heavy,
hope when all seems bleak
and that peace,
that deep joyful peace,
that is only his to give.
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