Here is my homily for the FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT – November 27, 2011. It’s a little shorter than usual for me since we were doing a “teaching Mass” explaining the new translation of the prayers and responses the Catholic Church in the English Speaking world is introducing today. Thanks for reading and your comments and feedback – Fr. Jim
On this Thanksgiving weekend we come to Mass and are greeted with scriptures that talk about the end of time as we know it – the time when God comes to judge the world – the time when Jesus comes again. When people hear or talk about the end times, they might think about that guy Harold Camping who predicted that day was coming, twice, this past year – first in May then on October 21… Some have Hollywood images of the rapture or that movie a couple years ago called “Left Behind:” and those images can be frightening.
A pastor a few years ago had an interesting take on the end of the world. He asked “imagine how the media would deal with end of the world?” He came up with a list of examples of different headlines he imagined different papers and magazines would have:
USA Today – WE’RE DEAD;
WSJ: Dow Jones plummets as world ends;
Forbes magazine: 10 ways you can profit from the Apocalypse;
Rolling Stone Magazine : The Grateful Dead Reunion Tour;
Sports Illustrated: Game Over;
Ladies Home Journal: Lose 10 pounds by Judgment day with our new Armageddon Diet –
Discover Magazine: How will the extinction of all life as we know it affect the way we view the cosmos –
PC Magazine: If you don’t experience the rapture, Download software patch rapt777.exe.
Today’s readings don’t sound as comical – Isaiah describing the sun being darkened, the moon not giving light, the stars falling from the sky – the Gospel warning us you do not know when the Lord is coming… so Watch!”
But before we get ahead of ourselves focusing on the end of the world, maybe we should be asking ourselves why are we suppose to stay awake, what are we suppose to be watching for. Are we looking for signs of the end times? Because, in the past few years, we’ve had enough hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis; wars, terrorist attacks – all kinds of things that people believe that the sun has already darkened and the moon has refused to yield light.
Even in our own lives, we struggle and are overwhelmed by our own dark clouds – maybe you’re overwhelmed with problems at work, maybe there’s problems at home; maybe sickness or death has thrown you into a very dark place; maybe those sins, failures or temptations keep wearing you down lying to you convincing you that you will never be able to withstand them or be forgiven of them.
With all of that, it’s easy to want to simply want to zone out and “fall asleep?” Which is why these scriptures invite us into a hopeful posture to wake up! We are being reminded that we are not on our own – because otherwise the darkness would overwhelm us. No the darkness around us or within us will not overcome us. Jesus comes, light breaks through, and when He does here’s the Good News that the world as we know it ends. Each and every time the true light of Jesus shows itself the world as we know is ends and – that is what we have to keep awake and alert to – so that we don’t miss it!
We see it happening:
each and every time the hungry are fed;
each and every time wrongs are righted;
each and every time peace breaks out where war has raged;
each and every time forgiveness allows a new beginning,
each and every time death is faced down with serene faith;
each and every time fractured families are reconciled…
In all of those ways, and many more, we find that into our lives comes the Messiah Jesus who makes our lives complete and whole, who brings healing and liberation.
May we welcome his coming into our homes and hearts and be attentive to his presence already here in our midst as he ushers us into a new day, a new age, a new world.