2nd Sunday of Advent, Year C
Psalm 126:1-2, 2-3, 4-5, 6 (3)
Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11
December 9, 2018
Our gospel starts with a list of names, names that I don’t really know how to pronounce. This is not a random list of names. Rather, it is a list of names that help provide a cultural setting and time for when Jesus’ First Coming happened.
The names are all leaders of the secular government or the high priests. These are people in positions of prestige and notoriety, hence using their names to provide a setting. They were also people in positions of power. So, one could speculate that the Lord would come through them. Government leaders could have helped spread the word. The high priests could have authenticated Jesus as the Messiah but it was not to them that the word of God came.
It was to a simple man, John the Baptist, that the word came to “prepare the way of the Lord.” God doesn’t not pick the rich and the strong. God chooses the humble. It is through the ministry of John the Baptist that the Lord began to fulfill what He had prophesized through Isaiah, that “every lofty mountain be made low,” and “that the age-old depths and gorges be filled to level ground.”
We live in a world where there is “misery.” We see it in people starving in third world countries. We also see people who lack enough food in our own community who we assist through the Community Food Closet as well as our Poor Fund.
We see it in the mass shootings. We blame some of those on people with mental illness but what do we do to help those with mental health issues. Catholic Charities in Wayne County is providing services that we hope lead to better lives for these people to not get to the point of shootings.
We also blame some of the mass shootings on hatred that might be based on race, ethnicity, immigrate status, or religious affiliation. Do we make sure that we always act and speak in a way that promotes love rather than hate? It’s not that we mean to hate some group but how might our words or actions falsely feel someone else justified in their hatred.
It might seem easy to say, “I can’t fix it,” with regards to any or all misery that we see. We feel it’s up to someone with more influence and power than us. We feel powerless to make a difference by ourselves.
Here I go back to what I said about all those people in the gospel. God could have chosen any of those leaders for their power and prestige. He didn’t. God choose to call John the Baptist to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
Just as God worked through John the Baptist, he can work through any one or all of us. I’ve already mentioned some ways that we can help by making sure people can have food to eat or receive the mental health services they need.
Thinking of how the “lofty mountain be made low,” how much more do you have than you need? Have you built up a big mountain for yourself? Having some savings can be smart but do we hoard things in a way that keeps others from having enough?
On the other end, how might we be an instrument of God so “that the age-old depths be filled to level ground?” By this I mean is there something we can do to help those with less have what they need? This might be in simply making sure we don’t overconsume. It can be in advocating for the less fortunate.
So far, the ways of helping I have described could lead to only helping those with less with material help, help that is important but not enough.
We need to make sure our motivation in helping the less fortunate is not to make ourselves look good. We shouldn’t do it just to get ourselves into Heaven. We need to do it out of love and to help the people to know that they are loved. This means treating them with dignity. It means treating them with respect. It means treating them as a child of God.
It means showing the less fortunate that they are more important to us than the stuff we have.
It also means showing our faith in the way we respond to the “mourning and misery” in our own lives. Do we respond in a way that says that this is all there is in the world and that it dictates how we feel or do we that we know God is present with us? To put in the words of Isaiah, “take off your robe of mourning and misery, put on the splendor of glory from God forever.” Do we look past the things of this world to see and enjoy what God offers us?
You might say you have tried doing this without success. We think success should come in an instant. God should just snap his fingers and everything will be fine. It doesn’t work that way. It comes in God’s time.
We are a work in progress. Becoming Christian disciples is an ongoing process. Remember Paul’s words, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
This is my prayer for you, for each and every one of you, that you let God into your life more and more each day, that you may know his love for you and that you share his love with others. Let the Lord truly and fully into your lives.