ADVENT DOES NOT LEAD TO
NERVOUS TENSION STEMMING FROM EXPECTATION OF SOMETHING
SPECTACULAR ABOUT TO HAPPEN.
ON THE CONTRARY, IT LEADS TO
A GROWING INNER STILLNESS
AND JOY ALLOWING ME TO REALIZE
THAT HE FOR WHOM I AM WAITING
HAS ALREADY ARRIVED AND SPEAKS
TO ME IN THE SILENCE OF MY HEART.
JUST AS A MOTHER FEELS THE CHILD
GROW IN HER AND IS NOT SURPRISED
ON THE DAY OF THE BIRTH,
BUT JOYFULLY RECEIVES THE ONE
SHE LEARNED TO KNOW DURING HER WAITING, SO JESUS CAN BE BORN IN MY LIFE SLOWLY
AND STEADILY AND BE RECEIVED AS THE
ONE I LEARNED TO KNOW WHILE WAITING.
Can we recover the authentic sense of Christmas
and rescue it from Consumerism?
Remember, Prepare, Live
Introduction: Usually the prophet Isaiah appears in the first reading for the season of Advent. This year is different. We will hear from four different prophets: Jeremiah, Baruch, Zephaniah and Micah.
This Advent in celebrating the birth of Christ among us we recall that CHRIST HAS COME. And yet the second reading and the Gospel remind us that CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN. At every Mass the priest greets us with the words, “the Lord be with you.” CHRIST IS PRESENT AMONG US.
We are called to REMEMBER, Christ has come.
We are called to PREPARE, Christ will come again.
We are called to LIVE, Christ is present.
1) The first part of Jeremiah’s life was lived in turbulent times. He was called to announce and denounce. He suffered for it. In his time foreigners came and destroyed the city and the temple. After this took place his preaching changed. He began to utter prophecies and promises of hope. Today’s passage is one of these promises: “I will raise up for David a just shoot.” The house of David was thought of as a great huge tree. But the tree had been cut down. Only the trunk was there. It would appear that the trunk was dead, but out of the trunk a shoot would come forth. The shoot is Jesus. He came in the past. We REMEMBER.
2) He will come again. We heard in the Second Reading, “…At the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones.” We also heard in the Gospel, “…The Son of Man coming on a cloud with great power and glory.” So we believe that Christ will come again. Protestants speak of this second coming as the Parousia or the Rapture. Some preachers try to scare us into being good by interpreting signs of the End in our present time. (It seems that many fundamentalist Christians are supporting President Trump because he moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. They support this move because they believe it will hasten the end of the World.) Besides this letter to the Thessalonians that we heard today, Paul wrote a second. In it he tells the people not to be overly disturbed. They should not act as some in the community have. They quit working and went around sponging food. We do not know when the end will come. The more important question is: Will I be ready? WE PREPARE.
3) We believe that Jesus lives in our midst. We believe that he lives in our scriptures, in our Eucharist, in our Communion that we receive. But we can still live like the people of Thessalonika or those mentioned in the Gospel, “…drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of life…” St. Paul cautions the people of his time and us, “…that as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God—and as you are conducting yourselves—you do so even more.” Jesus and Luke tell us in the Gospel, “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” So we are to live in the present Advent season, watching, examining our life, praying to change what needs to be changed. We strive to make greater progress. We are journeying with our ancestors in the faith, Jeremiah, the Thessalonians, the community to whom Luke wrote. We are journeying to Christmas.
SOME AFTER THOUGHTS
The real audience Luke has in mind for the close of this apocalyptic discourse is the church in his own time. It is members of the church who are in danger of being distracted by the pleasures and business of life so that they cease to wait in joyful expectation for the return of the Son of man.
The human race will consequently not be destroyed by present wars and tumults, nor by the final cataclysm. It will abide to meet the Son of man coming in a cloud (21:27) and only then, in the future age, will historical life and the sons of this age be transformed into the life of the resurrection (21:32b; see 20:34-36).
Given these assurances, Christians must look to their present preoccupations. Dissipation, drunkenness, the cares of this life, indeed all escapist behavior, are altogether inappropriate and will not avert the reality of the end which will spring on those who indulge in these like a snare (21:34). (from Laverdiere’s commentary on Luke), p 249
What are the forms of escapist behavior that we can name besides those mentioned in the Gospel? Alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual addiction, consumerism (buy, buy, buy), Masks and games. John Powell’s book, WHY AM I AFRAID TO TELL YOU WHO I AM, toward the back has a listing of masks that people wear to escape: Always right, braggart, egocentric (I,I,I),Messiah (Don’t you think?), the clown (can never be serious), Body Beautiful, flirt, sex bomb, predatory male, Cynic (world going to hell in a handbag), Gossip, Indecisive, Uncertain, Inferiority Complex, Poor mouther, Inflammable (short fuse), Loner, Martyr (poor me), Prejudice and Bigotry (always putting others down), Procrastination, Strong Silent or Willing and Wordy. We can make our own list.
The Good News is that in each of these escapes there is also the potential for Giftedness. (This is also part of the theory of the Enneagram.)
WE HAVE A CHOICE:
“…die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world…”
“…stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
Be trapped OR be redeemed.
WHAT IS MY STANCE OF WAITING THIS ADVENT?