December 6, 2015 2nd Sunday in Advent Fr Jim Miller

Second Sunday of Advent
December 6, 2015

Reading 1 Bar 5:1-9

Responsorial Psalm Ps 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Reading 2 Phil 1:4-6, 8-11

Alleluia Lk 3:4, 6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 3:1-6


Homily— December 5 & 6, 2015   

            According to the reading from Luke’s gospel that you just heard; if I was writing a gospel today I might begin:   in the seventh year of the presidency of Obama, during the governorship of Branstad while Francis was pope in Rome the word of God came to the people of Nativity Parish!!  “In the 15th year of the reign  of Tiberius Caesar” is a kind of elegant way of leading up to John the Baptist and his message of repentance.   I will come back to John later.

            The first reading is from the prophet Baruch, a companion to the prophet Jeremiah who supported the prophet during the years of upheaval that ended with the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army around 586 B.C.E.  Baruch wrote out the prophet’s oracles on a scroll.  

            The rabbis omitted Baruch from the Palestinian canon so it does not appear in the Hebrew scriptures.  Since the Reformation, when the reformers opted to follow the Palestinian canon and the Roman Catholics continued to follow the Alexandrian canon, Baruch has been one of seven books that non-Catholics refer to as either apocryphal or deuterocanonical.

            Baruch gives us hope as we try to picture God “leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory accompanied by mercy and justice.”

            Paul first met the Philippians on his second missionary journey around the year 50 C.E.   Philippi became the first Christian community in Europe.   Although this was a flourishing Christian community, as time passed they were experiencing troubles.   Paul was writing from prison to encourage them.   He reminded them of how successful they had been in living the Christian life.   He urged them to keep their focus on the vision of what lay ahead.

            Advent helps us focus on what lays ahead for us.   Every Advent offers a chance to annually re-examine what Jesus’ birth means for us.   It is about more than Christmas but also the day Jesus will return in glory.

            The word of God came to John the Baptist in the desert.  Why might the word of God come to him in the desert? 

 Madeleine Delbrel wrote this entitled:  “In the Desert”  When you are in love  you like being together  and when you are together  you like to talk to each other.

When you are in love, it’s tedious  to have a lot of people around you.  When you are in love  you want to listen to your beloved alone,  without the irritating background

of other people’s voices.  This is why those who love God  have always loved the desert  and why it has been impossible for God  to withhold it from those who love him.             John clearly tells us how we are saved:  seek “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”   We are to level out the mountains and valleys in our own lives.  We are to make straight our relationship with God and with others.   Changing our lives to live more faithfully Gospel values is not easy.  We are creatures of habit but change is possible when we have enough motivation.   One of the survivors of San Bernardino said he was going to spend more time with his daughter—and I bet he will.  

            What obstacles have we placed in the way of the Lord?   What sins keep us from being a better disciple of Jesus Christ?  Sometimes it is our pride or independent attitude that gets in the way.   Sometimes we fall into the deep valley of sin and have to pull ourselves out again with God’s help.   Other times we feel sorry for ourselves and wallow in self-pity.  

            What would lead a married couple to leave their six month old daughter with her grandmother and go out and do an act of terror on innocent people?   But then there was a man who protected a co-worker by shielding her body with his own.   He is a hero for her and for us.   These tragedies are a reminder that we do need to be ready to meet the Lord at all times.   Help me Lord to be watching for you.

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