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2nd Sunday of Advent - Year B - Fr John's Homilies

20111204/JAG

2nd Sunday of Advent - Year B
  1. Nothing is ever destroyed, only transformed from one form to another. This is a scientific understanding of our world. It is just as applicable in the world of spirituality.

 

  1. In order for something new to come about, something old must give way; must die; must be given up.

 

  1. It was Einstein who noted that we cannot create an opening, a pathway or a solution for such a new way with the same mindset that created the old road, the old way!

 

  1. John comes baptizing in the wilderness, and when he sees the Pharisees coming to hedge their bets with him, he pulls no punches. He perceives that in his own day, God is at work separating wheat from chaff, and that the chaff will be destroyed.
  2. What chaff is this? If we aren’t careful, we’ll decide that the Pharisees are the chaff, along with anyone else who is different and whose ideas we don’t much like.

 

 

  1. That certainly fits with the copycat distortion of God that we like to call upon when we’re feeling threatened.

 

  1.  But what does the text really suggest if we read it without our old glasses, our scape-goating assumptions; the old way of seeing?

 

  1. Do not think that your accident of birth makes any difference to God. He speaks, it would seem, to those who believe that their social location, by virtue of their birth, matters to God. Apparently not.

 

  1. Bear fruit worthy of repentance; of your new glasses; your new way of seeing. Apparently, the Pharisees have the opportunity to bear fruit borne of their reliance on God’s mercy rather than their social location.

 

  1. Here is an identity available to anyone and everyone. Here is a fruit anyone can produce.

 

  1. God is in the business of deconstructing structures that do not bear the intended fruit. Here we have an oblique reference to the “fig tree” that represents the Temple establishment, whose fruitfulness (or lack thereof) parallels that of the tree Jesus will later “curse.”

 

  1. The tendency we have to make the tree at whose roots the axe lies into a person or group of people rather than a system speaks more about our love of scapegoating than it does about the text.

 

  1. John says again, do not rely on the system of which you are a part, into which you were born. God will soon cast that system onto the fire.

 

  1. Now it is easy to see that the text goes on to say that the One who follows after John is the One through whom our victimage systems will be undone.

 

  1. That is the chaff. The fruits of repentance are those that will survive. The fruits of repentance represent the new life into which Jesus will lead his followers.

 

  1. It is vitally important that we be as willing as John to speak truth to the systems that God continues to undo.

 

  1. Many these days are fleeing to rituals to hedge their bets, confident even so that their social location, their membership in a certain group is what stands them in good stead with God. John says that reliance solely on God’s mercy makes one a bearer of good fruit.

 

  1. Preparation is a statement of faith. It's committing to trust even though you're hurting and heartsick. Every detail of the Christmas story tells us that Mary and Joseph endured more than their fair share of trials as they waited for the arrival of Jesus.

 

  1. Mary left town. Joseph refused to reject her on the basis of an angelic dream. We can just hear the neighbors gossip about the scandalous events of Mary's pregnancy. But they prepared and endured it all to be on a much greater mission than any carpenter's family could imagine.

 

  1. In order for something new to come about, something old must give way; must die; must be given up. It is also clear that we cannot create an opening, a pathway or a solution for such a new way with the same mindset that created the old road.

 

  1. As you prepare for Christmas and the new year, be challenged to prepare for all that's in store in some perhaps new ways:

 

  1. Eliminate distractions. Don't allow the stress of the Christmas season to distract you from what is really is important. Spend more time with the family and less time at the mall. Simplify your life. Be still and listen to God's voice. "... keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of faith ...and our hope.

 

  1. Notice God's hand. Reflect on this past year. Perhaps you, like many, have faced financial difficulty. Or maybe you've escaped danger or disease through an unforeseen miracle. Perhaps this year has been a time of suffering or relationship disasters. How has God carried you through all these things? Remember the words of Joseph in the Old Testament: "You planned evil against me; God planned it for good ..."

 

  1. Determine God's will. Ask God to give you direction. "A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps" (Proverbs 16:9).

 

  1. Unite in a mission. Mary and Joseph undertook an amazing mission on the way to Bethlehem. It certainly must have strengthened their bond as they conquered many obstacles and challenges. There's nothing more powerful than a couple, a family, or a church rallying around a cause.

 

  1. Share: Discuss ways your family or Bible study group can prepare for future challenges.

 

  1. Evaluate: Identify distractions that will keep you from truly worshiping Christ this Christmas.

 

  1. Pray: Ask God to help you see with new glasses; to see what God wants you to do.

 

  1. Express: Go on mission as a family or with a group of friends. Find a family or an organization you can help as they prepare to celebrate Christmas. Let's not waste this time of preparation! The Lord grant you Peace!