Homily for December 8

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

I love the season of Advent!
And I try to “keep it” as a time of preparation, doing everything I can
not to celebrate Christmas  - before it gets here.
But with the whole world “going Christmas” all around me
– it’s not easy –  and sometimes, I just give in! 

• Haul out the holly!

Put up the tree before my – spirits fall again!
Fill up the stockings, I may be rushing things but
- deck the halls again now!
For we need a little Christmas, right this very minute,
candles in the window, carols at the spinet.
Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute,
we need a little Christmas, now! 

• And I knoooow I’m supposed to wait - but waiting isn’t always easy.

It’s not easy for kids!  And it’s not easy for many adults.
And waiting for Christmas isn't easy
even if you're only waiting for Christmas to be OVER!

• And besides all that,
if you follow the news these days

then you know we really do need a little Christmas
here in the United States and all around the world -
and the sooner the better!

• So,  I’ve started writing my “What I Want for Christmas” letter
but I don’t write to Santa Claus  -  I go right to the top – to God.
• So I thought I’d share with you my first draft of this year’s letter…

Dear God,  

I “need a little Christmas”
and I’m not sure I can wait for December 25 to arrive.
I don’t mean to be impatient, but I need a little Christmas
 “right this very minute” – just like the song says.
So… here’s what I want for Christmas, Lord…

• I want some SAFETYY and SECURITY -         

the kind of safety and security we heard about
in the “peaceable kingdom” in Isaiah's vision
where the wolf and the lamb entertain each other
and the cow and the bear are friendly neighbors.
In these times of mass shootings I’m asking lots of safety, lots of security:
in our streets, at the mall; in schools and in office buildings,
in every place where people gather to be together.

• And I want safety and security for the most vulnerable:
for the poor, the homeless, the hungry, 
for children waiting to be born and for children hoping to grow up,
and for immigrants and refugees
for the marginalized and oppressed:

for all of them I want a warm place to stay, a place to call home,
food on the table and in their bellies - 
and the freedom they need / to become the people
you created them to be.
And, Lord, don’t forget the elderly, especially the sick
and those who live alone:
for all of them I want the safety and security of others
to love and care for them, gently and tenderly.

• And I want PEACE, Lord - peace in every place
where daily life is threatened and lives are scarred
by terrorism, oppression, violence and war.

And I want peace for our troops, Lord, at home and abroad,
for the men and women who stand in harm’s way,
defending us and the freedom we enjoy.

And I want an end to any war that's truly not worth waging.

And, Lord, would you bring us a peace with a long shelf life:
the kind of peace that only you can give,
peace that doesn’t run down or wear out quickly  - peace that lasts?

• And for the Church, Lord,
I ask for the justice you promised in Isaiah's words today:
- justice for those who have been abused;
- justice for those who seek clarity, transparency and truth;
- justice that brings change, lasting change,
so that we can once again trust our Church and its mission,
the mission of Jesus that John the Baptist announced at his coming.

And I also ask you to bring a real HOMECOMING
to our faith and to our Church, Lord.
I’m asking you to bring home,
especially at New Roads, at St. Luke's and St. Joseph's,
- bring home those who've been wounded by the Church,
those who've been turned off  and have drifted away and left us.

Bring them home, Lord,
and not just for Christmas eve or Christmas day,
but Sunday after Sunday into the New Year.

Restore our faith in Christmas, Lord!

• Put a special star in the heavens,

guiding all whose hearts long for you and seek you:
only you know how many such souls there are…
Restore our faith in Christmas, Lord!

• Give us Mary, your mother, to comfort and console
the lonely and all who are grieving the loss of a loved one.
Ask your mother, Lord, to console them,
and give them a season of joy to remind them
of how much you love them
and how much you love the ones they've lost.

Restore our faith in Christmas, Lord!

• Give us angels and shepherds to guide and tend us
in caring for one another through the holidays.

Caring especially those in troubled marriages
and families wounded, divided and estranged by
strife, quarrels, disagreements, resentments and grudges.
Bring all of us the gifts that all of us need:
patience… perseverance… understanding… compassion…
mercy... healing… forgiveness… and reconciliation.

Restore our faith in Christmas, Lord!

• And give us the love and humility we need
to be kind to one another - even, and especially -
to be kind to those who haven’t been kind to us.

• And, Lord, I ask you to bring RELIEF

for those whose plates are filled to overflowing
with trials and tribulations:
relief for people with so many bills to pay - but no paycheck;
relief for people with worries, anxieties, and fears.
Bring relief, Lord, for those whose troubles seem to have no end.

• And, I don’t want to be greedy, Lord -

but that's not the end of my list - there's more!
 Piled under the tree and stuffed in stockings I also want to find:
- unity in our divided nation
- daily news that’s factual, wholesome and uplifting
- truth to help us make good decisions and wise choices
- good jobs for good wages
- leaders we can trust in government and in the Church 
- serenity for those who suffer depression
- good health care for everyone
- reverence for nature and for all living beings
- recovery for the addicted
- and justice for the oppressed.

• I know I’m asking for a lot, Lord   - maybe even too much.

But please don’t think me selfish.
Two-thirds of the world’s people are underfed or starving,
and lack even the humble shelter of the stable
where you were born in Bethlehem.

We “need a little Christmas,” Lord:

we need to remember that it’s your birthday, Lord,
and that you and the poor wait… and wait… and wait…
You wait for us who have more than we need, to change the structures that keep the poor so very poor
while the rich grow ever richer.

• We “need a little Christmas” to remind us it’s not all about

the toys and clothes and electronics we want and hope to get:
it's about the really important gifts
that in our heart of hearts we all truly desire.

• Help us see that Christmas is less about getting more
and more about how much we already have  -- and need to share;
that Christmas is about what we need to give, and give generously,
to those whose needs are so much greater than our own.

• And I know, Lord, that so many of the gifts I’ve asked for

are already mine to give to others
in my family, among my friends at school and at work,
in my parish and wherever there are people in need.

•Many of these gifts don’t even cost a lot of money
but to give them means I’ll have to spend -- my self   – for others -
even as you spent yourself for me, Lord, on the Cross.

Forgive me for asking for so much, Lord,
but it’s true, Lord: 

we really do need a little Christmas -
and we need it sooner than later.

• Well, that’s it.
That's the latest draft of my Christmas wish list for God…
And once again this year,
I see that I’m much quicker to tell the Lord what I want from him
than to listen to what he might want from me this Christmas.
After all: it is his birthday and he should get the presents!

• We’re gathered this morning at the Lord’s table - and even today, 
with Christmas still more than two weeks away
we’ll find here, this morning, at this altar,
the very same gift we received on the first Christmas,
some 2000 years ago.

• Here, in the Eucharist, we don't have to wait for December 25th.

Here we’ll find…   we’ll be given…    and we’ll receive
the greatest gift of all:
the gift of God’s love  for us in Jesus
in the Bread and Cup of Communion.

• Jesus, the Word of God, came to us in the flesh, 

born in a stable in Bethlehem.
(Did you know that in Hebrew, 
the word Bethlehem means House of Bread?)
Indeed, Jesus, born in the House of Bread
comes to us today in the Bread and Cup of Communion.

• Pray with me, brothers and sisters,
pray that this gift of the Eucharist

open our eyes  and our hearts to the gifts we really need 
- and, more importantly - to the gifts we really need to give to others
who need so much a share in the abundance that's ours.

• We don’t have to wait until December 25th to find the gift of Jesus.
He’s already with us, here, “right this very minute”
in our Advent waiting, in our prayer,
in his Word, in our hearts, in Communion…

• Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute,

“we need a little Christmas – now…”


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