2nd Advent A
Is 11:1-10; Ps 72:1-17; Rom 15:4-9; Mt 3:1-12
Sometimes we might think that Advent is the most joyful season of the year: waiting for Christmas, the lights, the trees, the presents, Advent wreaths and the Hope. Boy, do we have reason to hope. We hope to keep our jobs for another year, so we can pay our enormous debts and feed our families. We hope for world peace, that the lamb and the lion, the child and the snake, the Jew and the Arab, the Muslim and the Christian, can live together in harmony. And we hope that Jesus can magically make us feel better.
But you see, Jesus never said, that He was the ‘magic cure-all’ or the ‘mystical peacemaker.’ What Jesus actually said was that he came to set the world aflame. (Lk 49:10).
You see, the blind didn’t just ‘start’ seeing. They had to WANT to see. They had to DO something to gain their sight back. They had to STEP UP to get the attention of Jesus, sometimes even against the blockades of Jesus’ bodyguards, the apostles. In simplest terms, they had to WORK for it.
You see, this is what Advent is really all about. It’s not about sitting in our easy-chairs and hoping for a magical new world. It’s not about going to Church to hear an anesthetizing, “feel good,” homily. It’s not about idly waiting.
Even though we may think that the word Advent means ‘waiting,’ it’s actually derived from the Latin, advenio, meaning ‘to Come to.’ The question is, “Who’s doing the Coming?”
In the time of Isaiah the prophet, yes, they were waiting for the COMING of the Messiah. But Isaiah also understood and preached, that the people had to change THEIR ways. They had to get off their ‘potato couches’ and start following God’s Commandments, or else their whole country could be decimated by outsiders. Think about this in terms of our own families, our Church, our country and our world !!
Of course we know that the Israelites DIDN’T listen to the prophets, and they WERE banished from their homeland. And it wasn’t until generations later that they were even allowed to go back home. And once they got there, they discovered that “home” wasn’t even there! They had to rebuild it. So you see, the Israelites were the ones who had “to come back” to God.
But it wasn’t long before they forgot this too. And they cozied back in their couches. And when their Messiah really did come, oops, not only did they miss Him, but they even tried to destroy Him in fear that they might have to move out from those couches.
And then there was John the Baptist. Oh, let’s throw out that anesthetizing homily now. “You brood of vipers,” he called them. They thought they were so holy, that they were so far above the Law that everyone else had to follow, but not themselves.
You see, John’s “baptism of repentance” didn’t mean – just feeling sorry for their wrong doings. It meant their ‘coming back’ to God as a ‘WHOLE, NEW, PERSON’. It meant DOING something, out of the ordinary!
Oh wow, it’s not an easy message to hear that we need to move out of our comfort zones. And please keep in mind that John and Jesus are preaching this message of change to ALL of us, myself included, as His Body. You see the mouth may not like drinking spinach juice, but the body knows what’s good for it.
So just what is it, that we have to do? Well, we begin with the simple act of opening our ears and eyes to the ‘gads of invitations’ that Jesus sends us every day. And then, we slowly begin to accept one or two of those invitations, as we inch our way OFF those couches.
But we might still be asking, “What invitations?” Of course, we’ve all heard the old saying, “If you want to walk, it helps to start crawling.” So invitation #1 is to get that Bible read. We’ve heard the little pieces of Scripture enough times every Sunday, that this Advent just might be the time to finally start putting them all together for ourselves. And the deeper question might be, “How are we supposed to raise our children in the faith, if we don’t even know it ourselves?”
So done, let’s move to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What do we really mean when we say that Creed every Sunday? Can’t read? Then we can join a group of fellow Catholics who CAN, and TALK to one another.
So done, let’s pick up the Church bulletin. Did you know that this week’s bulletin has 23 invitations from Jesus, showing us different ways that WE can COME closer to Him? We can even donate our couch! Have we gotten our pictures taken yet? Are we really a part of His Body and our Church? Or do we want to remain invisible when He comes to take the rest of us home?
Were we among the 200 blessed souls who experienced the heavenly beauty and wisdom of Donna Cori Gibson’s music this week – out of the 2200 families in our parish? You see, sometimes the invitations are indescribable and unrepeatable GIFTS, in disguise.
Did WE offer OUR gifts to the poor through the ‘Giving Tree’ or the ‘St. Vincent DePaul Society’? Did we walk in front of our local abortion center, to show our support for God’s PRECIOUS Life? Are we growing in our faith by being part of a ‘Why Catholic’ group or by coming to Fr. Schraders’ Wednesday night talks?
You see, besides our going to Mass and accepting Jesus, who COMES into our hearts and lives through the Blessed Sacrament, WE really DO need to COME to Him too. And that just might take, a little stepping out of our comfort zones. Remember, Jesus IS already here, and He is inviting US to COME to Him this Advent. His invitations are limitless, and our reward for acceptance is a very blessed Eternity – IN His Kingdom . . . Come!