Introduction: “Advent expresses in symbol and ritual three stages in the human journey, in the Christian journey. Christ has come; Christ will come again; and Christ is here now. We remember the first; we look to the second; we live the third. All three are part and parcel of our lives..,” (this quote is from SIR WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE JESUS by Walter Burkhardt, S.J. It was the inspiration for this homily.)
Homily: I. First Advent is a remembering. People in Isaiah’s time were offered a New World Order with the famous words, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not rise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. …Let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Our present reality illustrates how far removed we are from this vision.) The future hopeful vision has light overcoming darkness. At midnight Mass we will hear from chapter 9 of Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.”
In the New Testament Zachary hymned in prophecy of his son John and said: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
The people of Isaiah’s time knew living in darkness. The people of Jesus time knew living in darkness. We know darkness in ourselves and in our time.
People in Jesus’ time are offered a vision of their feet being guided into the way of peace. Jesus said of himself, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
In the imagery of Advent light and darkness are present. They will also be present in the imagery of Easter. The darkness at the death of Jesus will lift. Early in the morning on the first day of the week when it was still dark the women at the tomb would be enlightened. We remember.
Advent not only looks back, but looks ahead. We not only recall Christ’s first coming, we anticipate his final coming. The trouble is the end-time is wrapped in darkness. We do not know when it will come. Some Christians are sure they know: The end is soon, it may be any moment now. Some supposed teachers of bible prophecy discover our present generation in the Synoptic signs, in the predictions of Paul, in the Revelation of John. But we must face the stark and clear words of the gospel writer Matthew in our present passage: “Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”
Nor do we know how Christ will come. The pictures and poetry of the first century tell us very little about the how. We do know that Christ will come in power and majesty and overcome evil.
When Scripture focuses on Christ’s final coming, the stress is not on when and how. Two questions are crucial: First, whenever Christ comes, however he comes, will you be ready? Second, how are you readying Christ’s return, how are you preparing God’s kingdom?
III. We not only look back on the first coming and forward to a final coming. We are not caught between a past that is gone and a future that is not yet here. What links yesterday and tomorrow is today. We are to live now a life that Christ’s first coming made possible, and by living that life now, we prepare for his final coming. He is no longer in a crib of straw, not yet on clouds of glory. But he is here. The light shines in the darkness….now.
But tell me honestly does it? Do you actually find Christ lighting up the darkness in you, the darkness around you? There is darkness in all of us. The death of Jesus, our baptism, even the Christ within us has not simply destroyed all darkness. What are the areas of darkness within me, within you? Is there something of self that I am clinging to, you are clinging to, will not let go, even though it torments me/you? What, in psychological language is your shadow side?
Besides the darkness within us, there is a darkness around us. We still can almost feel the heat and smell the dust and death and darkness from the World Trade Center. Mass shootings we just won’t stop. The border encampment at the bridge in Matamoros, Mexico has 1200 people living in most primitive conditions. We are bombarded with images of our military might. We see people starving, refugees, etc.,etc. Our president is a Climate Change denier and continues to make the causes worse.
After more than 2000 years, there is still deep darkness in this redeemed world. BUT, Christ is here, for he has come. But the light that is Christ flickers and shines and blazes only through people.
Here is our Advent. I must accept the Christ who has come as a reality, a living light in my life and in some other lives. Like the Christophers, it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness. Let Christ dawn (amanacer en Espanol)..
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