Homily for December 2

Homily for First Sunday of Advent
Scriptures for today's Mass

I love the season of Advent - just beginning today!
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 children – and it’s not easy for many adults.
It’s not easy even if you’re only waiting for Christmas to be OVER!

• And besides all that: if you follow the news with any regularity,
then you know we really do need a little Christmas -
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…
And NO - this is NOT just a repeat of last 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 SAFTEY and SECURITY -         
the safety and security you promised in the words of Jeremiah -
and in these times of mass shootings
I want lots of safety, lots of security:
in our streets, malls and schools, at concerts and in office buildings,
night clubs, libraries, synagogues and churches.

• And I want safety and security for the most vulnerable:
the poor, the homeless, the hungry, migrants and refugees,
the marginalized and oppressed:
for them I want a warm place to stay, a place to call home,
food on the table and in their bellies - and freedom.

• And don’t forget the chronically and critically ill, Lord -
for them I want the security of people to 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 who stand in harm’s way
and I want an end to any war not worth waging.

• And I want peace for my family and my friends,
especially those who live in troubled families
and broken relationships.

• And, Lord, please 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 Jeremiah’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 leaders and mission.

• And I also ask you to bring a real HOMECOMING
to our faith and to our Church,  Lord.
I’m asking for you to bring home
- those who have been wounded by the Church,
 those who have been turned off - or have turned away,
- those who are angry, ashamed, disappointed and mistrustful -
those who have left us.
Bring them home, Lord,
and not just for Christmas eve or Christmas day,
but Sunday after Sunday into the New Year.

• And Lord, I don’t think even climate change would keep you
from putting a Christmas star in the sky again,
a star guiding home all whose hearts long for you and seek you
- and only you know how many, many of such souls there are…

• And for those who are alone, Lord, and those who are lonely,
and for those who grieve the loss of a loved one this Christmas,
give us Mary, your Mother, to console them, Lord.
give them a season of joy to remind them
of how much you love them.

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

• Especially those in troubled marriages, Lord,
and families wounded, divided and estranged by
strife, quarrels, disagreements, resentments and grudges -
I want you to bring us those gifts that all of us need:
patience… perseverance… understanding… compassion…
healing…  and forgiveness… and reconciliation.

• For Christmas, Lord, 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 of problems are filled to overflowing;
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 - but that’s not all, Lord!
Piled under the tree and stuffed in stockings, I also want to find:
- unity in our divided and broken nation
- some daily news that’s true, 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 
- peace of mind and heart for the anxious and depressed
- good health care for the sick and elderly
- respect for all living beings, especially those not yet born
- recovery for the addicted
- and justice for the oppressed.

• I know I’m asking for a lot, Lord.   I want so much
- maybe even too much.
But please don’t think me selfish.
Two-thirds of the world’s people are underfed or starving,
and so many lack even the humble shelter
of the stable where you were born in Bethlehem.
We “need a little Christmas”
to remind us 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 richer.

• We “need a little Christmas,” a real Christmas spirit, Lord,
to remind us it’s not all about
the toys and clothes and electronics we want and hope to get.

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

• And I know that so many of the gifts I’ve asked for, Lord, 
are already mine to give, to share with those around me:
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 myself
– for others -
even as you spent yourself for me, Lord, on the Cross.
Forgive me for asking for so much, Lord,
and for asking so early,
but it’s true, Lord: we need a little Christmas
and we need it sooner than later.

• Well, that’s the latest draft of my Christmas wish list for God…

And once again this year,

I see that I’m 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 around the Lord’s table
and even today, with Christmas still three weeks away
we’ll find here, today, at this altar,
the very same gift we received on the first Christmas,
some 2000 years ago.

• Here, in the Eucharist,
there comes, we’ll find, we’ll be given and we’ll receive:
the greatest gift of all, the gift of God’s love in Jesus.

• He came to us in the flesh, born in a stable in Bethlehem.
and he comes to us today in his Body and Blood the Eucharist.

• 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 very much.

• 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 prayer, in our hearts, in Communion,
in our Advent waiting…

• Yes, we need a little Christmas, right this very minute,
 “we need a little Christmas – now…”


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