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Homily for the 2d Sunday of Advent, Dec. 7, 2008

December 27, 2008

Gospel Reading for the Second Sunday of Advent

Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent, Cycle B

Road Construction

Have you ever watched a neighborhood go up?  Not an easy project, is it?  Each time our neighborhood got more houses, the builders would go in and start the work of preparing the way for all of the new construction.  They would make the little pathways that were there before wider; they filled in all of the ruts and gullies, and smoothed things out, removing the rocks, tree roots, and other junk from the pathway the new residents would need to take to their houses.  They “made straight the path” for those who would follow them.

And the spiritual mirrors the physical.  We are called, constantly, by God to build new neighborhoods in our lives for Him to dwell, new places into which we allow the Lord to make things new for us.  Advent is a call to the kind of earth moving that has to happen in our lives before the work of building the kingdom can happen.  And Advent is a reminder, at the same time that the same Christ, who finally arrived in the midst of Israel over 2,000 years ago, is coming again

And the cry of “the voice in the wilderness” from today’s readings is as much a call to us as it was to Israel at the time of John the Baptist.

What was happening in Israel when Mark’s Gospel begins?  Well, the Romans had been occupying Judea and Samaria for years.  The people of Israel were being oppressed under a puppet king, Herod, who lived off the largesse of the Romans and the misery of the Jews.  And the religious Jews had been waiting, for centuries, the arrival of the Messiah promised by the prophets, especially by Isaiah.

And then this John guy shows up, a scraggly-bearded wild man In camel hair, promising that the One they’d been waiting for was just around the corner!  And what did John call them to?  Repentance!  Conversion!  John called them to change the way their lives were going, in preparation for “the One coming after” him!

Paul makes clear what is expected of those who were waiting on the Lord to return, too.  Paul talks about how the Lord, when He returns, is going to return like a thief in the night, without warning.  And he states plainly what is expected of Christians while they wait:  He says they ought to be “conducting themselves in holiness and devotion”.  He says they ought to “be eager to be found without spot or blemish” before Christ, “at peace”.

This is how the Church received Christ back in the day; this is how they were taught to await His return.

But isn’t it amazing, the difference a couple of millennia can make?  We are so busy, compared to people way back then.  And we know so much more than they ever did, about everything, right?  And our lives are so full.  Our kids are in activities all week; we have homework out the wazoo most days.  And work demands so much of our time.  And what about the financial crisis?  The hit we’ve taken in our 401(k)?  Our mortgage interest rate?

And don’t even think about Christmas, and Christmas decorating, and Christmas shopping.  Christmas parties.  Christmas cards.  Christmas ads.  All this stuff we have to prepare for.  How are we supposed to even find time to sleep or eat, let alone do anything else, with all of this “busi-ness” we’re immersed in?

It’s a funny thing, brothers and sisters, but God really does call us to something different, a different kind of preparation, during this time before Christmas.  We call it Advent for a reason:  an advent is an “approach” of someone or something, and we are celebrating the approach, the coming, of our Lord and Savior!  And that celebration is two-fold:  not only are we anticipating the celebration of His birth, but we are also looking forward with hope to His Second Coming into the world!

But…what?  What are we supposed to do about something that, oh, well, sure it’s going to happen, but, well, it’s already been over 2,000 years!  I mean, it isn’t like He’s coming back tomorrow, right?

Or is it?

And whether He is or not, brothers and sisters…does it really matter when exactly He’s coming back?  Paul says, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.”  And Paul tells us that that the Lord “he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  And Paul tells us that our job is simple:  to conduct ourselves “in holiness and devotion,” “eager to be found without spot or blemish”.

In other words, Paul is calling us to make straight in our spiritual lives a way for the Lord to come into our lives!  And all of that stuff, all of that busi-ness, all the distractions of the world’s Christmas “preparations” make up the rocks and boulders, ruts and gullies, tree roots and other junk that have to be moved aside to make the path straight for the Lord!

So.

What’s in our neighborhoods?  Not the neighborhoods where our houses are, but the neighborhoods of our hearts?  What kind of roads are we building?  And what kind of junk is there that needs to be moved out of the way, to make the path straighter for our Lord to come in?

The world will fill our hearts with all kinds of worries and concerns , all kinds of junk that gets in the way of receiving Christ’s peace.  And we can create all kinds of problems for ourselves, with all of the things we let into our lives, both the blatantly sinful, and the things that just clutter things up.

This season of Advent is a time for us to consider what is truly worthy in our lives.  It’s a time when the Church points us toward the eternal realities of our lives:  that Christ has died and risen, and that Christ will come again.  And it’s a time when we are each asked to consider:

How’s the pathway into our hearts?  How straight is the way of the Lord in our lives?

When He comes, will He be able to find the way into our neighborhood?

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One Comment
  1. Shirley permalink

    Delayed response. You write uncomprimised truth. Continue to be a “voice” in the wilderness”, of this too busy 21st century.
    Peace & Agape Love

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