I certainly have not been very diligent in getting the homilies from Fr. Jim posted in a timely manner. I apologize for that. My life has been quite full in the last two weeks. You will also shortly receive the homily from this last Sunday. All good reading in this last week of Advent…..Reyanna
•Zephaniah 3: 14-18; Philippians 4: 4-7; Luke 3: 10-18•
Weekly Scripture Readings: Third Sunday of Advent
In our culture today, this season we name Advent not only anticipates Christmas, it nearly insists it is now. Santa, Frosty and Rudolph compete with voices like that of Thomas Merton whose words I place before us again today.:
“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent
and the divine is shining through it all the time.”
According to Luke, a crowd, then some tax collectors, and then some soldiers ask the Baptizer the same question. “What should we do?” I suspect Luke included these interchanges in his gospel to challenge and guide his readers –(us) – into the Christ Mystery.
Perhaps the same question is on our lips as we enter this third week of Advent. If our past teaches us anything, it is that by this time in Advent, Santa, Frosty and Rudolph have pushed our good intentions aside. “What should we do?”
In response to their question, John spoke of “one more powerful yet to come.” “I baptize you with water. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand.” His questioners probably were sobered by his response. Fire and Spirit and winnowing fork were associated with God’s final judgment.
It is good that our families continue to treasure Christmas as a commemorative moment. However, and I think unfortunately, we have been conditioned to focus on a crib in Bethlehem while expecting the return of the Lord Jesus on a day of judgment.
We live between the two events. For centuries we were urged to action, to repentance, to reconciliation, to good deeds. In various ways we ask repeatedly, “What should we do?”
I stand guilty of fostering that mentality. Perhaps it is now in our DNA.
In consequence the living Word of the Gospel has lost much of its power. We are inclined to listen more to the voice of John the Baptizer – “”repent,” than to the voice of Jesus, the “one more powerful yet to come;” he who assures us – “I have come so you may have life!”
Today, as humanity has done since we evolved from previous life forms, we continue to struggle with evil. Santa, Frosty and Rudolph distract us, while the institutional church struggles to free us of our fixation on sin, guilt and fear. So let us not forget the Advent Christ comes to renew us in mind and spirit, our deepest truth.
Thomas Merton wrote… “Life is this simple.” “We are living in a world that is
absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.”
His insight motivates me in my Advent homilies to emphasize our deepest truth, our deepest reality. You, every one of you, and every human being who ever has lived is a son, a daughter of God. We are not isolated, separate human beings. Deep down we are essentially one with all that is. Some may call it divine being. Some may call it spirit. Some may call it God. However we name it, our deepest reality is that we exist and live in God and God in us.
In this secular world where Santa, Frosty and Rudolph have become dominant symbols, the same secular world in which we live hungers for more – for life, for Christ!! It is important for all of us to continue to treasuring Christmas as a commemorative moment. However it is even more important for us to awaken to and reclaim the deepest mystery of our humanity and awaken others as well. Where else is there hope for a better world? We are not isolated, separate human beings. We, all of us, are the Living Body of Christ.
“Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.”