Weekly Homily from Fr Jim Hogan, Third Sunday of Advent, December 11, 2016

I have been remiss in getting these posted.  It is just a matter of forgetfulness and a busy time of the year…. reyanna

Isaiah 35: 1-6, 10 + James 5: 7-10 + Matthew 11: 2-11•

Weekly Scripture Readings: Third Sunday of Advent

It is futile to live in the past. Advent/Christmas is not about the past – a birth in ancient
Bethlehem. They are about our present and our future. That is why, particularly this year, I am using the words from Leonard Cohen’s song: “Anthem” as a mantra in my own personal prayer, and as a motif connecting my Advent homilies together.

Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget the perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in!”

A homily is composed of two elements: the scripture texts of the day and the events shaping the world in which we live. The homilist’s task is to connect these two elements with your lived experience to encourage you to imitate Christ and live in the Christ mystery.

On this Third Sunday of Advent, our lectionary continues bringing John the Baptist to center stage. John was “a crack through which the light gets in.” He courageously spoke out against King Herod. In retaliation Herod provided John free board and room — in his prison!

From his prison cell John heard rumors about Jesus. Jesus did not meet his expectations. He was not focused on sin and repentance. He ate, drank and mixed with all manner of folk. With tender hands, caresses and kisses he gave life, dignity and happiness to all. John was puzzled.  Where was the action? Where was the fire? The rumors probably awakened his self-doubt. So this apocalyptic preacher sends some of his disciples to Jesus asking, “are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?

Jesus simply told John’s emissaries: “judge for yourself.” “The blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised.” He restores people to their full humanity. “There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in!

There is so much good about and in this season of parties and shopping. As we move deeper into the darkness of Advent, Christmas celebrations beckon. But this season is not about the past – a birth in Bethlehem. It is about our present and our future. Advent provides the balance we need if we are to be authentic in celebrating Christmas.

We are living in the midst of a significant political transition that effects both our present and our future. Some among us look forward to this transition with enthusiasm. Others view this transition with various degrees of trepidation.

Matthew’s Jesus told John’s emissaries, “judge for yourself. I am restoring people to their full humanity.” This gospel text invites us in the words of Leonard Cohen, to “ring the bells that still can ring. Forget the perfect offering.” Politics matter enormously. But we are many-sided personalities. We each inhabit many different spheres with their own identifiable norms and institutions. Our presence here at the Table of Eucharist is itself a statement that our primary value is to embrace and live authentically in the Christ Mystery. That is far more important than any secular politics and is in fact the only way we can redeem the awful state of politics in our country. “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget the perfect offering.”

Francis of Rome understands this gospel. He recently said “we live in an era in which people try to solve grave global problems and issues by excluding others or separating groups of people from one another.” He cautioned us, “that such polarization and animosity are a virus that can permeate our way of thinking, feeling and acting.” Because we seek to enter more authentically into the Mystery of Christ, we cannot allow this way of thinking to become part of the way we live and act. According to Francis of Rome, “such thinking leads to animosity, hostility, threats and violence” – all contrary to the Christ way.

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget the perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in!”

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