Friday, December 10, 2010
MY HOMILY FOR THIS PAST SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT, WHAT WILL I PREACH THIS PINK SUNDAY?
Introduction: A few advents ago, Bishop Raymond Boland of Kansas City, our Bishop Boland’s brother composed a prayer for impatient customers and frazzled postal employees for the advent/Christmas season. It went, in part like this: “God, our Father, may everything we do be first-class. Imprint your own loving zip code upon our hearts so that we may never go astray. Provide in your gracious Providence special handling for those of us who are fragile and keep us in one piece. And when our days draw to a close and we are marked “Return to Sender,” be there to greet us at Heaven’s door so that nobody may ever say “Unknown at this address.” Amen.”
Topic Statement: The Lord Jesus comes to us not to condemn us but to save us within the family that is called the "Church."
1. John the Baptist’s call to repentance is urgent since reconciliation and a strong family bonds with the Lord is a necessary part of our accepting the gift of forgiveness and union with Christ in his family the Church.
A. My fantasy of a good Catholic family is a bit too Leave it to Beaver-like, but here goes anyway. My ideal Catholic family, if I could wave my magic wand and make it happen, is one where the husband and wife really love, respect and obey one another and try to treat each other as Christ treats His bride, the Church. This couple is open to children and see all children as a gift from God both the ones planned and unplanned. This family makes time for God everyday in prayer. They say grace before meals and pray the rosary in whole or in part in the evening as family time prayer. They attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation and make God and the Church the center of their lives. They even put religious events above the sporting events of their children and of television. They have supper together every night at the same time and all are expected to be there; the television is turned off during meal time and the table is set with a real table cloth and real plates and glasses and proper etiquette at the table is taught and observed. And they remain for a time after the meal to just simply talk to one another. In other words the family supper is a little bit like Mass.
B. John the Baptist in his earthy sort of way wants to wake us up on this Second Sunday of Advent. His message is rather sobering. His communication is stark and direct. John tells us the time is near. Jesus is coming. The just judge will gather the holy ones into God’s kingdom as wheat into a barn. Those who remain obstinately unrepentant will experience the eternal fire of hell, separation from the family of God. John the Baptist’s stark and simple call was “repent!” the kingdom of God is at hand. Do you want to be included in the family of God that lasts forever? Repent. The advent message is simple. Taking that message to heart begins at home, what is called the "Family," the "Church in Miniature."
2. For Catholics, the ordinary means of repentance and receiving Jesus’ forgiveness is through the Sacrament of Penance especially when the dysfunction of sin enters the family through its individual members.
A. On Thursday I went to our sixth grade class to talk about the two reasons for the season of Advent. The first one is to place ourselves in the position of God’s chosen people who longed for the day that the Messiah would be given to them. They had to be patient and to be of a repentant heart for His coming. They had to wait centuries. Advent also prepares us to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the long awaited Messiah. But we must also be like the Jews in waiting once again for the return of the Jesus at His Second Coming to judge the living and the dead. The Church, like the Jews, has been waiting centuries for this to happen.
I asked the sixth graders if they feared the Second Coming of Christ. If we pretended that it would happen on Christmas Day, what would we do? One of the sixth grade boys raised his hand and said, I’d go to confession right away. I said, I would too, I would track down Msgr. Cuddy and go to Him with the added benefit that he can’t hear what I’m confessing! But that’s one of the things that I remember in a very warm way about my family. My father would get us all in the car on Saturday afternoon, about once a month, usually the first Saturday of the month, and we’d all go to confession. I have great memories of that and how my friends I was playing with on Saturday didn’t understand why I had to stop playing in order to go the Church on Saturday to confess my sins. My older sister and brother, by five and six years older, were already teenagers, and they complained the most about this family tradition. But my father made it clear that he was the head of the house (even through the place he assumed at the head of the family table) and that we were the kids and we would do what he said. He was very black and white about these things.
B. Of course, when we open ourselves to the truths of the Church, we know deep down as Catholics that the ordinary way for mortal (serious) sins to be forgiven is through the ministry of the Church and the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance. In other words it’s not a do-it-yourself procedure, but a Church celebration which includes doing penance. Of course, this presumes that one is truly sorry for one’s sin and is making the decision to turn from sin and back to God. John the Baptist once again in this Advent season reminds us to repent. He reminds us as God’s family, the Church to “get to confession and regularly!” Forgiveness is the medicine of for the ailment of a dysfunctional family.
Conclusion: The great sacrament of the forgiven and redeemed is the Holy Eucharist. Let us make sure our repentance is sincere and our sins are properly forgiven as we partake of this great Sacrament. Let us be in a state of grace and holiness to receive our Lord at this Mass and when He returns in glory.