Friday, December 7, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007 ~ Second Sunday of Advent

Matthew 3: 1-12

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." Now John wore a garment of camel's hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sad'ducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father'; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."


St. John the Baptist gets a bit fiery here with the Pharisees and Sad'ducees, doesn't he? He calmly and peacefully baptizes all those who come to him, but when the "brood of vipers" approaches, he tells it like it is! These men are known to be hypocrites, and St. John will not have it. He will not allow them to claim baptism in the Spirit unless they also show change their lives.

Am I a hypocrite? Do I pledge to change but truly fall short in vital areas? We are all sinners in need of repentance, but some offer only a lukewarm response to God's mercy, neglecting to "bear good fruit." St. John knew that Jesus would not tolerate such as these. In his humility, he tried to warn them of what was to come. Most didn't listen.

Do I heed the warning that Christ is coming? Do I live my days as if each day was my last opportunity to show God my love and devotion? How can I ensure that each day is spent producing fruit that the Lord would value? Does my Baptism inspire me daily to actively pursue holiness? Or do I shrug my shoulders and merely "try"?

Mary's yes at the Annunciation was not lukewarm. She did not shrug her shoulders and say, "Whatever you want; you're God." How often do I have this reaction to challenging events in my life? Her acceptance of the will of God was difficult, and she confidently responded, "Let it be done unto me..." She essentially told God to "bring it on!" Her response was strong, not weak. What is my usual response to God?

St. John the Baptist warns the Pharisees, but he also warns us. Am I ready to face Christ's winnowing fork? Do my actions clearly communicate my faith in God? This Advent season, how can I better embrace my Baptismal calling to live no longer but let Christ live in me?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunday, December 2, 2007 ~ First Sunday of Advent

Matthew 24: 37-44

As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect.


We have NO idea! The day of the coming of the Lord is close at hand, yet we carry on with our lives. Especially during this holiday season, we are so busy that we can easily forget that Advent is not just about preparing for Christmas. It is also about preparing for the Second Coming. This Gospel leaves no doubt that we must prepare.

Am I ready? Let's go through the metaphorical rooms of our heart and see if things are as they should be. I hope you can follow my line of thinking, as I parallel our houses with our souls!

Is the entryway warm and inviting? If Christ enters today, will He trip over boots and backpacks? Will He find a tidy hall or perhaps a stone wall, keeping Him out? Maybe there is even a half-wall there, so you can see Him but He can't quite reach you.

Is my living space comfortable? Would Jesus feel at ease in my living room or family room, because He has visited there often? Are there images and sacramentals that ensure He has a place where the family gathers? Do my children know how to sit at His feet and hold two-way conversations with the Lord? Do I?

For all of us Marthas out there, do we have a stocked kitchen, ready for unexpected guests? Do we have warm drinks and sweet treats for our friends? Or are we panicking that we cannot offer them anything? Or worse, do we feel they would not want the humble snack we can offer? When is the last time I put my arm around a hurting friend, giving them warmth and comfort? Would I be able to offer the Lord something simple, yet elegant that showed Him I care?

And, is He staying for dinner? Is the dining room table always set with an extra spot? Do I have clean linens on the table or are they stained and tattered? Would I invite Him to eat with the family, regardless of how poor the children's manners? Would I remember that He loves them anyway? Or would I be embarrassed, beating myself up for not being Emily Post? Are there meat and potatoes ready to go, or can I only offer a few crusts of bread?

In what ways do I need to better prepare for Christ's coming at Christmas and beyond (assuming the Second Coming is not in the next three weeks!)? How can I take some time out from my hectic and busy December to clean things up inside, to make a place ready for Him?

A priest this weekend explained that BUSY is Being Under Satan's Yoke. Am I too busy? How can I best prioritize my lists to keep Satan at bay? What is Christ asking me to sacrifice this Advent to make ready for His coming?