December 4, 2016 Second Sunday in Advent

Second Sunday of Advent
December 4, 2016

Reading 1 Is 11:1-10

Responsorial Psalm Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

  1. (cf. 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
    Reading 2 Rom 15:4-9

Alleluia Lk 3:4, 6

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
    all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
    Gospel Mt 3:1-12
  1. 3-4 December 2016 Don’t get too comfortable
  2. Second Sunday of Advent

    During this time of year it is easy to be overwhelmed by the sights and
    sounds of the Christmas season. From the ringing of the Salvation Army
    bells to the bright Christmas lights, our senses can become saturated and
    make it difficult to find peace.
    In our Gospel this weekend, the people that came out to hear John the
    Baptist preach may have been overwhelmed as well. John’s appearance
    would have brought to mind Elijah, an Old Testament prophet who also
    wore camel’s hair and a leather belt. Like Elijah, John’s preaching would
    have gotten their attention.
    Israel had been without a prophet for 400yrs and the people may have
    been getting a little too comfortable. John’s message of repentance would
    have shaken things up. He attracted people from all Judea and the whole
    region around the Jordan River. People were going out to hear him speak
    and to be baptized as they acknowledged their sins.
    This Gospel message is very appropriate for us during this season of
    Advent. Advent, like Lent, is a time of preparation. It is a chance to prepare
    ourselves spiritually for Christmas.
    To help us prepare for Christmas during this 2nd week in Advent I have a
    question we can think about:
    Are we too comfortable in our faith life? X2
    During this Advent season, let us take some time to make sure our faith
    journey is progressing and headed in the right direction.
    The metaphor I like for this topic is the frog in a pot of water. You may
    have heard this one: If a frog is dropped into a pot of boiling water it will
    jump out to save its life. If the frog is put in a pot of warm water and the
    water is slowly heated, the frog will not notice the increasing temperature
    and will be cooked to death.
    How do we know if we have slowly detoured on our faith journey and
    are heading in the wrong direction?
    How can we discern if a stalled faith journey has put us in hot water?
    For a quick assessment, we can look for signs of the Holy Spirit working in
    our life. When we are actively living our faith, we should experience love,
    joy and peace. These are fruits of the Holy Spirit from St. Paul’s letter to
    the Galatians. Experiencing these in our lives can be a sign we are headed
    in the right direction.
    If we are headed in the wrong direction our behavior may include
    increasing amounts of immorality, anger and selfishness. If changing this
    behavior is beyond our comfort zone, we may be sitting in very warm water
    and the devil will continue to turn up the heat.
    If this review uncovers some gaps like it did for me I have some
    suggestions for 2017. Advent is the beginning of the Church year and good
    time for resolutions. Here are 3 to consider:
    The 1st resolution is to UNDERSTAND OUR FAITH BETTER. Depending
    on your experience with Catholic education, this may be a little intimidating
    but definitely worth the effort. We need to avoid the temptation of being a
    “cafeteria Catholic” where we pick and choose which parts of the faith we
    believe. If there is something about the Catholic faith that troubles us, we
    should try to understand it better. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and
    consider joining one of the Catholic study groups in Dubuque. There are
    many great resources available but one of the best places to start may be
    the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you don’t have the 2nd edition, you
    may want to put it on your Christmas list.
    The 2nd resolution is to FIND A NEW WAY TO SHARE OUR FAITH. We
    can’t all preach like John the Baptist but all of us are called to witness our
    faith in the way we live. We may all already have good examples in this
    area but this resolution is to find a new way to share our faith in 2017. Is
    there someone you know who has fallen away from the faith that needs a
    friendly invitation to come back to church? Can we find a new way to share
    our time and talent by singing in the choir, joining a committee like St.
    Vincent de Paul or serving meals to people in need?
    My 3rd and last resolution for 2017 is to MAKE OUR FAITH MORE
    ACCOUNTABLE. Making our faith accountable brings us back to the
    Gospel message of repentance from John the Baptist. One way for us to
    live this Gospel message is to go to Reconciliation before Christmas.
    Another way to make our faith accountable is with prayer. If you have
    trouble finding quality time for prayer…find a prayer partner or group and
    be sure to schedule a time to pray each day.
    So we have 3 resolutions to better help us prepare this Advent season:
    Let us make the best use of this time during Advent to prepare ourselves
    to welcome the Christ Child into our hearts at Christmas.