Homily 2nd Sunday Advent. Year A - 4th December, 2016
Please also listen to my podcast of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Second Sunday of Advent.
First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm: 71:1-2. 7-8. 12-13. 17. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever
Second Reading: Romans 15:4-9
Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12
Whenever there is a bush-fire .. even before you see the smoke or see the fire... you know something is coming.,.... because, apparently, (so I am told), all the snakes and mice and wild-life come racing out of the bush... Getting out while they can !.......... Same with the proverbial sinking ship..... the rats are the first to desert it !
Saint John the Baptist went about proclaiming that the “Day of the Lord” was near and that NOW was the time to repent and change our ways or else......... all of a sudden he sees in the distance the Pharisees and saducees coming for baptism.. and he calls out (the equivalent of …).... “well, well well... look who we have here! ....... If it isn’t the snakes, getting out before the bushfire ! Who warned you of what was coming???....”
The Pharisees and the Saducees were well known for focusing on external things... how they were seen to be doing the right thing... whether or not they really were......but this didn’t fool John... your lives have to change... external rituals are not enough unless your heart is changed.....
The first reading challenges us all...... God does not judge by what the eye sees of the ear hears... but God looks at the heart...... with righteousness and equality.....
This is indeed good news for a world where (as one person once put it) the only exercise most people get is jumping to conclusions...........WE can continue to hope and work for a community where we refuse to judge by appearances.,... where we strive to live out the justice and harmony that Jesus asks....No matter how far off true harmony may seem, we are reminded that it is God who is steadfast towards us, and is constantly at work to bring about a change of heart. “God’s Spirit is at work when enemies begin to speak to one another, and ...nations seek the way of peace together” (Eucharistic Prayer II of Reconciliation).
It is good to ask ourselves some helpful questions in this time of Advent……
What are the paths that we need to straighten in our lives and in the life of the church? ...... What barriers do we need to unblock in our preparation for the rebirth of Jesus in our hearts???
As individuals..... what are our barriers? ..... The best test of that is to analyse the things we do and say when we think no-one will hear us or see us or find out what we are doing. What things in our lives do we compartmentalize?, (keeping separate and hidden from the rest of our lives). .....
Another thing that has struck me of recent years….. we should ask more questions instead of making more statements….. And we would be a lot happier if we asked “open-ended” questions instead of conclusion-laden ones…
I will never forget in a parish many years ago… (and I use this example as an instruction and not as a criticism), in the midst of a bit of tension between a school group and the parish over the use of a hall that was owned by the parish but shared in usage between the school and the parish.. I got a message one day which said …..“Why did you have the water supply turned off in the hall?” This question really hurt my feelings. Trying to be polite, I calmly replied… “I didn’t HAVE The water turned off. Rather, the pipe (which was very old and came all the way from another building) has suddenly gotten blocked and we have called a plumber to fix it” …. Why people jumped to assumption that we had deliberately turned the water off, I cannot say. Actually, at that same place, (where many happy and kind things also happened, I must add)….. … one day… the parish had a meeting in the same hall…..n it concluded with a lunch… and we had way too many sandwiches.. So, whilst lunch was still occurring, we took a tray of sandwiches out and offered the sandwiches to a group of people who were working on a garden outside the hall. In response, one of the people commented… ‘Oh, giving us your scraps?’ I was utterly horrified… and hurt. To think that people would assume that we would give to others what we would not be willing to eat ourselves… I think there was a lot of “judging by externals” and not from the heart going on…. Anyway.. that was a long time ago.. in a far, far away place… And by telling that, I by no means want to take a high moral ground. We can all be tempted to jump to conclusions and judge by hearsay and by assumptions.. its an all too tempting habit that sadly any one of us can fall into time and again even though deep down we know it’s a trap.
In this Advent time of reflection and preparation…….. its good to pause and ask ourselves humbly…..
How often do I make judgements on the basis of appearance,, or hearsay.... how does Jesus message differ from this?
Who are the people I find hard to accept... how does Jesus invite us to relate?..
Let us continually present any barriers and blocked paths we discover to the Lord of Justice and grace…..... and God will pour his mercy and love upon them... and slowly but surely remove these barriers and blocks…. step by step……
Fr Paul W. Kelly
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2nd Sunday Advent. Year A
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters, let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries.
I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault,* through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection, until you come again.
*2. When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your Death, O Lord, until you come again.
3. Save us, Saviour of the world, for by your Cross and Resurrection, you have set us free.
Preparation of the Gifts
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you: fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.
Blessed be God for ever.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.
Blessed be God for ever.
Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God,
the almighty Father.
May the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands, for the praise and glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his holy Church.
Advent 1 p.16
Euch Prayer II p.56
Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.