2nd Sunday of Advent – Year A – December 4, 2016

Readings:

Study guide for today’s readings:

Gospel – Matthew 3:1-12

  • John the Baptist provides a lens through which Jesus is properly interpreted.
  • John the Baptist preaches in the desert of Judea – the importance of “desert”
  • “Desert” = place of simplicity & poverty – stripped down to basics – distractions & attachments eliminated – ability to hear to voice of God
  • Much of our life is taken away by distractions to avoid the fundamental questions – set those aside and the really great questions can emerge.
  • We need to find a “desert”
  • Advent = a desert time – pray & fast & simplify life.
  • Holy Spirit = is the winnowing fan that will blow away all that is not of God… when we allow ourselves to be baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire.
  • John the Baptist went out into the desert to prepare the path for the Messiah – the leap from metaphor to reality = path is NOT made on land but in the heart of every man; it is not built in the desert but in one’s life.
  • How do we straighten a path for the Lord?
  • What hills must be made low? Pride, anger, revenge?
  • What valleys must be filled? Laziness, lack of self-control, apathy?
  • Saint Augustine says, “he who made us without our help, will not save us without our help.”
  • Repentance = changing in us whatever keeps us from saying YES to God’s will.
  • Advent = do we come to prayer, to Mass, expecting someone to speak to us? Are you actually waiting?

Other homilies:

C.S. Lewis

Are you waiting for God this Advent? Are you eagerly longing the coming
of Christ? Often we forget that this is not a 1-sided game, but something
entirely different. Lewis helps us see that Christianity is something other
than what we commonly assume...
From C.S. Lewis' Miracles Chapter 11:

Men are reluctant to pass over from the notion of an abstract and negative deity to the living God. I do not wonder. Here lies the deepest tap-root of Pantheism and of the objection to traditional imagery. It was hated not, at bottom, because it pictured Him as man but because it pictured Him as king, or even as warrior.

The Pantheist’s God does nothing, demands nothing. He is there if you wish for Him, like a book on a shelf. He will not pursue you. There is no danger that at any time heaven and earth should flee away at His glance.

If He were the truth, then we could really say that all the Christian images of kingship were a historical accident of which our religion ought to be cleansed. It is with a shock that we discover them to be indispensable.

You have had a shock like that before, in connection with smaller matters—when the line pulls at your hand, when something breathes beside you in the darkness. So here; the shock comes at the precise moment when the thrill of life is communicated to us along the clue we have been following. It is always shocking to meet life where we thought we were alone.

‘Look out!’ we cry, ‘it’s alive’.

And therefore this is the very point at which so many draw back—I would have done so myself if I could—and proceed no further with Christianity.

An ‘impersonal God’—well and good. A subjective God of beauty, truth and goodness, inside our own heads—better still. A formless life-force surging through us, a vast power which we can tap—best of all.

But God Himself, alive, pulling at the other end of the cord, perhaps approaching at an infinite speed, the hunter, king, husband—that is quite another matter. There comes a moment when the children who have been playing at burglars hush suddenly: was that a real footstep in the hall? There comes a moment when people who have been dabbling in religion (‘Man’s search for God!’) suddenly draw back. Supposing we really found Him? We never meant it to come to that!

Worse still, supposing He had found us?

So it is a sort of Rubicon. One goes across; or not. But if one does, there is no manner of security against miracles. One may be in for anything.

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