2015-12-06, 2nd Sun Advent C, It’s All Good

Homily 12-06-15
Second Sunday of Advent, Cycle C
Bar 5:1-9; Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk 3:1-6

(Scriptures included after homily)

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It’s all Good!

ordinationIn the Ordination Rite for a Bishop, a Priest, or a Deacon, after the presiding Bishop’s “Examination of the Candidate” and the candidate’s “Promise of Obedience,” the Bishop will declare this statement to the candidate.  He’ll say:

May God, who has begun the good work in you, bring it to fulfillment.

Today we hear St. Paul profess that same statement to his beloved Church in the City of Philippi.  He said,

“I am confident of this, that the One who began a good work
in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Confirmation - anointingWe will hear close to those same words spoken in a prayer by the Bishop, for us, in our Sacrament of Confirmation, where the Bishop will pray:

“God our Father, you sent your Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and through them and their successors you give the Spirit to your people.  May His (good) work, begun at Pentecost, continue to grow in the hearts of all who believe.”
(From the concluding prayer to the Rite’s intercessions.)

You see, that’s all of us, brothers and sisters!  Or else we wouldn’t even be here!

Are we beginning to see a connection?
(There’s clearly something GOOD going on here!)

StFrancisOne of my favorites, though.  And you might say that I’m biased on this, because I have a close, personal relationship with these people.  One of my favorites comes from the Franciscans.  These are the people who belong to the religious order of St. Francis: whose statue adorns our Church, and of whom, my son is a member, and after whom, our Pope is named.  The Franciscans will say in greetings and farewells, “Pax et Bonum,” which is Latin for, “Peace and all Good.”

 You see, it really is: all Good!

And by now, we might be wondering what any of this has to do with Advent and John the Baptist.

Well, before we begin to talk about our Advent penance, about preparing the way for the Lord, about leveling mountains and filling in valleys, about repenting our sins and about mercy for sinners (in this new – Year of Mercy), we need to recognize, first, that within EACH and every one of us, our families, our friends, our neighbors and even our enemies,

God has begun – something GOOD.

God has placed a seed of Goodness inside every single one of His Creations!

Do you remember that Genesis story; where, after each day’s creation was completed, the sacred writer reminds us that: “God saw how Good it was.”

So, before we burden ourselves with cleansing and perfection, we need to remember, that we were ALL created on a foundation of Goodness.

joySome of us, with the help of Jesus, have found a way of always allowing that Goodness to percolate its way up to the surface of our thoughts, and our words, and our actions.  Kind of the way clean water floats to the top of the mud.  And that doesn’t mean that the mud is not there in these people, because we all have our muddy days!  It just means that we don’t leave a muddy stain of ugliness everywhere we go.  Instead, we let it drop to the bottom, so that we can always keep the Goodness on top!

sadnessinsideoutAnd then there are those of us, who have either forgotten or repressed that Goodness so deep down within the very bowels of our souls, that we don’t even remember what Goodness feels like.  We don’t remember all of our prayers for rain in the midst of the drought; and when we finally get it and don’t have an umbrella with us, we then complain about getting wet, slinging some more mud on someone else.  We don’t appreciate the reward of a smooth, new road over the months of aggravating detour.

We don’t see the resurrection smile over the crucifixion suffering . . . and realize, that it’s all good!

Today, St. Luke carries us through the mud and into the waters of goodness.  You see, even though we may not recognize those places, like Ituraea, and Trachonitis, and Abilene (and that’s not in Texas), we do recognize some of those names, like Pontius Pilate and Herod.

We remember Philip, whose wife Herodias, was involved in an adulterous relationship with Herod, and who asked for John the Baptist’s head on a platter.  We remember Annas and Caiaphas, who condemned Jesus to Pilate who had Him crucified.  It truly was a muddy list of un-goodness.

And yet, out of all of that mud, there was a beacon of light in the darkness. A drop of fresh water, pointing the way to Hope, pointing the way to Joy!

And his name was John!

john the baptistAnd even though John may have appeared a little rough on the edges, a little gruff, John had a BEAUTIFUL soul!  John never gave up on humanity: smoothing the paths, straightening the roads and leveling the mountains so that others could see the way; just as the prophets Isaiah and Baruch did in their times, and just as Jesus does, with every one of those bumps and potholes on our daily roads of life.

As we come to this altar of our salvation today, and for the rest of this year’s Advent Season, maybe we can begin to look for the Goodness instead of the evil in the everyday events of our lives.  Maybe we can share that Goodness in a smile or a hug, and let God ‘bring it all to completion,’ until that Day, that Glorious Day, when we will see Him face to face.  That’s a goodness we can count on!

Pax et Bonem, brothers and sisters!

dove branch It’s ALL Good!

 jmp 12-06-15

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 12-06-15
Second Sunday of Advent, C

First Reading:  Bar 5:1-9

Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name.  For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.

Up, Jerusalem! stand upon the heights; look to the east and see your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God.  Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.

For God has commanded that every lofty mountain be made low, and that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground, that Israel may advance secure in the glory of God.

The forests and every fragrant kind of tree have overshadowed Israel at God’s command; for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion, we were like men dreaming. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the torrents in the southern desert. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

Second Reading:  Phil 1:4-6, 8-11

Brothers and sisters: I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.  God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Gospel:  Lk 3:1-6

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.

John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”

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