As we continue into the second week of Advent, our focus remains on the Second Coming, that is, on the return of the Lord at the end of time. We focus on justice, on God’s just judgement of our soul, at the end of time–but also at the end of our time, when our time on earth is over. Today we ask ourselves–are we ready? I admit that I have not stood alongside many bedsides as the elderly receive Last Rights, mostly that is the experience of priests, but I have been at a few, and there is nothing so sweet as when a person has lived a life well, is reconciled with God and neighbor, and embraces their time to stand before almighty God to render an account of every word and every deed. I want to be ready at all times for that day, don’t you?
Today’s homily is for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, Dec. 5, 2021, and the readings can be found by clicking here. The video can be viewed by clicking here soon.
Today the Church has good news: there’s still time! I stand with John the Baptist today proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. That’s how we will be ready. True conversion of heart. Seeking first the waters of baptism, like young Anthony Gallagher who I baptized today, and then the door of the confessional where we are renewed and brought to perfection time and time again throughout the difficulties and struggles of life where our weakness, our selfishness, and our sinfulness is so often revealed. Take heart, our Lord Jesus never tires or renewing our Spirit, reconciling us, and making us whole again. We need only but ask.
The 1st reading from Baruch we are told to stand up and take off the robe of mourning and misery and to put on the splendor of God. In sinful behavior, selfishness and greed we wander far from God, but today we are told to stand upon the heights and watch what God wants to do for us in our life. Sin led us away, Baruch says, but God will bring us back to him on royal thrones. God “leads us in joy by the light of his glory.” God really has done great things for us; we are filled with joy,” as the psalmist says.
Has the Lord done great things for you? Are you filled with joy? Or are there times of struggle that rob us of our joy? As we prepare to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, is there not a small part of us that says, “Father, it’s the same old thing, when it comes to _______ I just can’t seem to win.” Does Garth Brooks’ song, Same Old Story seem to be the theme song of your confession? Do not lose heart! Keep praying. Keep attending Mass. Keep crying out to God for deliverance and strength. Keep going to Reconciliation. And for the love of God, keep smiling, keep shining, keep loving, and as St. Paul tells the Philippians, be “confident in this, that the one who began a good work in your will continue to complete it until the day of Christ.” Believe that. God is at work in us.
Are we ready for judgement day? Lord no! I’ve got to get my act together–God give me another day, I pray! Give me a chance to get to the confessional, like our faith formation children did last week. Give me another moment to say I’m sorry to family or friends that I have hurt or ignored, or held a grudge against because they hurt me. Give me a chance to take a second look at my budget to see how I might support a child in need, support the Wheelchair Foundation, support my local food bank or shelter, my church, or my pastor–but especially my deacon (haha). Give me this last chance to turn away from sins of the flesh, drunkenness or drugs. Give me one more day to turn away from this sin and turn toward you, my Savior, my Lord, my mercy, my love. In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…John called for repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He cried out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths…and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” My prayer is that I, my family and yours, are able to see the salvation of God. With St. Paul, “this is my prayer: that [our] love may increase ever more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that [we] may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.” Time is short. Lord, complete your work in me. Marana Tha. Come Lord Jesus.