2011-12-04, 2nd Advent – The Pop-Quiz

Homily 12-04-11
2nd Sunday Advent B
Is 40:1-5,9-11; Ps 85:9-14; 2 Pt 3:8-14; Mk 1:1-8

(Scriptures included after homily)

Today we’re going to have a ‘pop quiz.’  Now, how many of your hearts just skipped a beat when I said that?  And inside we might be thinking, “Well, it’s bad enough they’ve changed all the words that I used to know by heart in the Mass.   And now they’re not even giving us 2-weeks, before we get a quiz!”  Well, that is a fair concern.  But I promise, it won’t be on the new stuff.

Now, for those of you, who, like me, haven’t set foot in a school for longer than we can remember, does not the whole concept of a ‘pop quiz’ just bring back those ‘good old days’?  Or maybe not!  You see, it’s all about time: too short, too long, too fast, too slow.  Isn’t it funny how just a couple of words, like ‘pop quiz,’ can rustle back memories from some thirty or more years ago.  Or maybe for those of us in the younger set, it was just last week.  Sorry kids for the reminder!  Well, that’s time!

So, if we were to condense all of our Scripture readings today into just one word, we might say that word could be ‘Time”.  The prophet Isaiah speaks of the PAST, in that Israel’s debt had been paid through their servitude in Babylonian exile.  He speaks of the PRESENT, when he mentions how they need to “prepare the way of the Lord,” now, in their hearts!  And he speaks of the FUTURE, when the Lord will lead them all back home, to Jerusalem.

But when is this FUTURE?  For the Israelites, as we look back now, it wasn’t very far off.  Yet, St. Peter tells us that God’s Time could be more than a thousand times longer than ours.  For us, that could seem like a very long wait.

And a long wait it is!  Just like our season of Advent.  Year after year, there’s another Advent, and another Lent, and another Christmas, and another Easter, all the same, and over and over again, as we patiently keep on waiting.  But hopefully, it’s not all the same for us!  Instead of looking for a change in the seasons, maybe it is we who should be changing.  Am I different than I was a year ago?  Am I better, or maybe not?  Can I manage to answer that one simple ‘pop quiz’ question without breaking into a sweat?  A question like: What is the One word that best describes our God?

You see, John the Baptist reiterates Isaiah’s Advent statement, when he says “prepare the Way of the Lord.”  Maybe it’s not we who should be sitting on the side of the road, waiting on the Lord.  Maybe it really is, the Lord, who is sitting there, waiting on us!

You see, the road, “the Way”, is already paved.  We have the Bible and the Catechism, we have classes and lectures, videos and the internet.  We have prayer books and Churches, statues and liturgies.  And we have priests and Cursillo and TEC, and youth groups, all to learn from, all so that we can grow in our faith!  And then we have the poor, and the children, and the unemployed, and the widowed, whom we can help.  We have countries, oppressed and at war, for whom we can pray.  You see, the road, “the Way” is flat and wide and just waiting for us to tread and grow closer and closer to the Lord, who is our home.  And on that road, we walk in the humility and poverty of John the Baptist, by saying, “I am not worthy.” And yet Jesus still stoops down to lift us up!

Our walk is in the strength of the Holy Spirit and as the Body of Christ.  And our walk is in the Light of that ONE word, the answer to our ‘pop quiz’ question.  The one word that expresses it ALL – God, Jesus, Service, Time, Sacrament  and Church.  That one word, in which our feet are shod for this journey to our God.  And that word, that word is . . . LOVE!  We walk in the Light of Love.  God IS Love.  Love: timeless, perfect and eternal.

If today our Lord was to call our name, what is it that we would undo and replace in our lives with Love?  Who is it that we could love, whom we never did before?  And if we were to take – “Time,” out of the picture of our lives, how would we be different?  How could we, be more, like Jesus.

jmp 12-04-11

Partially inspired by this film:

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Scripture Readings for Mass of 12-04-2011

First Reading:  Is 40:1-5, 9-11

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Go up on to a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!
Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 85:9-10-11-12, 13-14

R. (8) Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace to his people.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R.
Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.
R.

Second Reading:  2 Pt 3:8-14

Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.

The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

But 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.

Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire.

But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.

Gospel:  Mk 1:1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:  Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way.  A voice of one crying out in the desert:  “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.

John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist.  He fed on locusts and wild honey.  And this is what he proclaimed:  “One mightier than I is coming after me.  I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

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