Francis of Assisi
556 South Jersey Street;
Denver, CO 80224
National Catholic Church (PNCC)
St. Francis of Assisi Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) @2008
Today is the 4th Sunday in Advent, the last Sunday before Christmas. There’s 1 shopping day, including today. Are you ready? Have you gotten all your shopping done? This is about the time these questions become a common salutation, the beginning of conversations. It seems almost everyone you talk to ask the same questions - Are you ready for Christmas? Have you gotten all your Christmas shopping done? When someone confronts you with those questions or you hear on TV or the radio how many shopping days are left, do you do a quick mental check of your things to do, gifts to buy, places to go lists? You know, reflecting on today's homily, I've again become particularly aware of just how much we're focused on preparing for the Christmas celebration. I can't help but notice the frustration, concern and fear we all seem to have that we might not be ready when Christmas gets here.
I'm sure that each of you, as I do, see and feel the anxiety everyone seems to get the closer we get to Christmas day. The mental picture we're focused on is: What a beautiful time it will be. The tree will be twinkling and lovely with all the lights and decorative ornaments. It’ll be surrounded with festively wrapped presents that were so thoughtfully and lovingly bought or made for our loved ones and friends. Family and friends will be gathered around and it’ll be so wonderful. And, of course, we'll be pleased and delighted that we managed to get everything done in time and it all turned out so well. We’ll be pleased that we were indeed ready for Christmas.
Knowing me as you do, you're all thinking this is the setup to the admonishment that we're missing the true meaning of Christmas. And, you’re right, there'll be no surprises today! That's exactly my point. However, I'm not going to preach to you about the commercialization of Christmas or that we should remember Christmas is Jesus' birthday. You know that all very well. What I am going to do is attempt to share some of the thoughts and feelings I experienced as I prepared my homily for today, the last Sunday before Christmas. I reflected on what might GOD want to say to his people. What message might he want to give to his children in these troubled times? While no flash of revelation immediately came forth, I did come to realize that GOD'S message is right before us every time we read the lessons of the seasons. Whether it's the lessons of ordinary time, Lent, Holy Week or Advent - the message is clearly there for us.
However, what appears to happen during Advent as we approach Christmas is we move onto a two dimensional track. We're aware of the Advent season and the approaching celebration of the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, at the same time we’re overcome and distracted by the preparation for the celebration and the celebration itself. The early Christians saw the birth of Jesus in its proper context as the beginning of the whole redemptive mystery of the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of GOD. It was only gradually they began to emphasize the birth of Jesus as the beginning of God's love for mankind manifested in the incarnate Son. As a token and sign of that divine love, they began to give gifts to each other. The gifts were symbols of the constant love in their lives that was to abide throughout the year. We all know too well what that beautiful tradition has evolved into.
As much as I want not to believe it, It strikes me that we may well be missing the real point of Advent and the Christmas season. We say we’re looking forward to the coming of the messiah. But we know the Messiah - Jesus Christ, the Son of GOD, has already come. Jesus Christ is present among us right now, according to his promise.
But the real question is, are we aware of his presence? Does his presence make any difference in our daily lives?
We mustn’t lose sight of the fact, Jesus comes to us only in proportion to our desire for him. Only in proportion to our desire for his will in our lives. Recognizing this and acknowledging the need for Jesus in our lives is to me what Advent and the Christmas season is really all about.
The readings of Advent have been chosen by the Church to prepare us for Jesus' coming. Not the coming of the messiah of the Old Testament, but the second coming of the Messiah. The Messiah we already know, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To remind us, each year during advent, the Church reintroduces us to John the Baptist and his message of repentance. He tells us, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his path straight".
We cannot let ourselves be distracted from this message. We must stay focused on our Lord Jesus. We must stay focused on Jesus Christ's presence in our daily lives. We must stay focused on being prepared for his second coming. Each year GOD calls to us to open our lives and hearts to him. He calls us to seek and follow his plea to allow his Son to become flesh in us and in our lives. What GOD wants is that we constantly have our lives and hearts open to the coming of Jesus.
We've spent four weeks now preparing "the way of the Lord". Preparing the way for the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Holy Mother Mary prepared her whole life for the coming of the messiah. Yet, when the angel of the Lord came to her, she was startled and somewhat perplexed. Even so, she didn’t falter. She was ready. When Jesus came into her life, into her very being, she was ready. Mary was prepared and joyfully submitted to the will of GOD.
And so must we! We must take to heart the lessons of Advent. We must constantly ask ourselves: Am I ready? On the day you come face to face with our Lord Jesus Christ, will you be prepared? Have you committed yourself and prepared yourself to the extent that like Mary, you will be prepared to respond,
"BEHOLD I AM THE SERVANT OF THE LORD: BE IT DONE TO ME ACCORDING TO YOUR WORD."
Ready or not, Jesus is coming so you had better be ready.
Double click here to edit this text.
December 24th - 4th Sunday of Advent - B 2017