HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY IN ADVENT – CYCLE A
Bishop Rene Henry Gracida
How is your Advent observance progressing?
Last Sunday I told you that the Advent Season is a time in which we are invited by Our Lord Jesus Christ through his Church to prepare ourselves spiritually so that we can derive the greatest possible benefit from our celebration of his birth on December 25th.
I challenged you to try to go to the daily celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass if at all possible, and if it were not possible at least to read and meditate at home on the scripture readings for each of the weekday Masses.
So, let’s review what the Church had to tell us during this past week about getting spiritually ready to celebrate Christmas.
Let’s start with Monday.
In Saint Matthew’s Gospel a Roman soldier, a Centurion, asks Jesus to heal his servant. Jesus responds that he will go to heal the servant. The Centurion, protests that his home is not worthy and asks Jesus to just say the word and his servant will be healed. Jesus marvels at this pagan’s faith and says that he has not found such faith in Israel.
That reading from scripture was a challenge to us to do everything that we are doing to prepare for Christmas with a living/lively faith, not doing it automatically.
And not doing it for unworthy motives, but doing it out of love; love for Jesus Christ, love for your family, love for your neighbor.
On Tuesday Saint Luke quoted Jesus in his gospel as saying “I give you praise, Father…for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”
Christmas is about children; first of all it is about the Christ-child and then it is about the children in your family, and it is about all children.
There is little that can compare with the joy parents experience on Christmas morning when they see the expressions of joy on the faces of their children as they view the Christmas tree with the presents Santa has brought during the night.
But Jesus is not talking about the faith of children, he is talking about your faith, your faith as adults remaining open to God with the same openness and awe you had when you were a child.
On Wednesday we celebrated the Feast of the Apostle Andrew and the Gospel recalled the invitation to Peter and Andrew, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men!”
The Church reminds you that everything you do by way of preparation for Christmas that involves others, you should do as a lay-apostle because like Andrew you have been called to witness to Jesus Christ to other men and women. Be loving and generous to other adults even as you reflect that Jesus has been loving and generous to you by calling you to life and love.
On Thursday, the opening prayer of the Mass began with these words: “Stir up your power, O Lord, and come to our help with mighty strength, that what our sins impede the grace of your mercy may hasten.”
The greatest way to experience the grace of the mercy of Jesus Christ is in the confessional. By confessing your sins you prepare yourself in the most perfect way to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Christmas and be most perfectly united with Him in Holy Communion.
On Friday St. Matthew told us in the Gospel about the two blind men who asked Jesus to heal their blindness, which he did. You can be partially blinded by all the commercialism before Christmas, by all the advertising on radio and television, by the commercialism with which our society assaults your mind. Try to keep your mind and heart focused on your faith and love of Our Lord and the members of your family so that you do not become blind to what they are to you.
If you listen to music during Advent try to avoid as much as possible Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, White Christmas and all the other secular music; try to listen to our Diocesan Radio Station, KLUX, which will be playing traditional Christmas music and carols.
Yesterday, in the Saturday celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Saint Matthew told us in the Gospel that “At the sight of the crowds (Jesus’ heart) was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”
The late Father Walter Ciszek, S.J., who was convicted of being a Vatican spy and spent 23 years in Stalin’s Soviet prisons, had this to say about those who are troubled and who feel abandoned in our society.
“Each day, every day of our lives, God presents to us the people and opportunities upon which he expects us to act. He expects no more of us, but he will accept nothing less of us; and we fail in our promise and commitment if we do not see in the situations of every moment of every day his divine will.
That is how the Kingdom of God has been spread from the time of Christ’s coming (at Christmas) until now. It depends on the faith and commitment of every man (and woman), but especially of the priest every day of his life.
Every moment of the life of every man (and woman) is precious in God’s sight, and none must be wasted through doubt and discouragement.
The work of the Kingdom, the work of laboring and suffering with Christ, is no more spectacular for the most part than the routine of daily living.”
Those were the words of the heroic priest, Father Ciszek.
I close my homily with the words of the opening prayer of today’s Mass:
“Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
for ever and ever.”