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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Homily for Closing Advent Liturgy - Luke 7 (Are you the One who is to Come?)

It is our sincere hope that during this past week the Lord God has touched a deep part of you. Perhaps God healed a long-festering memory, allowed you to hear or see through God's ears and eyes by entering into the silent stillness, brought you new life or is nurturing some new life within you. This has been our wish and prayer for you all week.

We arrived during the busy days of our commercial Christmas season that we call Advent. We left the frenetic pace of our lives because we were filled with the wonder expressed by John the Baptist and his disciples. They asked, "Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?" If this sounds familiar, it is because we heard it in Matthew's Gospel on Sunday. So we've had a chance to ponder it. Though we are familiar with God, perhaps the one steadfast, creating God we met in Isaiah's reading, we are still left with many questions about God's concern for us and God's ability to continue to create the world.

During these past 8 days, we have celebrated the events that foretell the coming of Jesus, his Mom's Immaculate Conception, Juan Diego and the truth of honestly presenting ourselves before God, the Rejoicing that we feel on Gaudete Sunday as we hit Advent's homestretch, the light Lucy brings to us and the darkness we experience like John of the Cross. We have had our share of conversations with the Lord and our share of times in which prayer seemed ineffective. We were mired in the dark chaos of our lives and we experienced the light that overcomes all darkness. And now it is time to leave. It is time to approach the quickening pace of the "O Antiphon" days that start on Friday. We sense something deep within creation is happening. Almost invisible forces are at work and we can only sit back in startled amazement.

"What did you come out here to see," asked Jesus? And we replied, "are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?" After eight days, these questions are worth pondering. Luke's Gospel tells us that Jesus cured many of his diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits. He also granted sight to many who were blind. Something may have happened to you on these days with Jesus, but is your question answered? Is this the Messiah who is to come? Is he a Messiah for me? It is like the question, Does God love me? We answer 'yes' because God loves everyone and I am part of everyone. But does God like me? This is a different question. Does God like me enough to spend time with me, relax with me, want to know me more intimately? Will this Messiah care enough personally for me to save me?

We re-enter the frenzied world we left. Our friends, communities, and loved ones will ask, "what happened?" What are you going to tell them? They want to know. This question is a larger one than you may realize. It is bigger than you. They want to know if you have changed. They want to know if you still like them and want to be with them. They want to know if they still matter to you - even the person who is your biggest pain in the butt. They want to know whether they ought to seek out the one you yearn for and whether this one is the Promised One. Be gentle with them. Smile at them and tell them you missed them!

Some of our brothers and sisters couldn't wait. They've already left when they heard Jesus instruct them to go and tell John (and others) what you have seen and heard. And soon you will go out. In some ways it is very difficult to speak of what we have come to know. Eventually the words will come. You retreat is a process that is merely at its beginning. Like a child in the womb, it must be nurtured and grow before it enters the world. We simply communicate in our attitudes and demeanor what we cannot say in words. Our Messiah is coming. How are we going to wait for him? How are we going to look for him?

For some, we cannot bear the confronting way of a powerful Messiah at Christmas. Our senses cannot fully take him in without a dramatic response from us. We may push him away because we are not yet ready to let go. We can more easily accept the pregnancy of a young couple about to give birth. We can fall in love with this little one. We can marvel and wonder at him and we can care for him by giving him our affection. He grows with our loving responses. It is our time to be gentle with him. Later on, we will need him to be gentle with us.

"Are you the one who is to come?" In the next week and a half we have time to reflect more deeply on this question. Look for the signs. Be awed with the odd. If we pay attention, we have and can experience the blind regaining their sight, the deaf getting their ears opened, the lame standing tall and walking, the dead coming back to life, and many hearing the good news preached to them. God's breaking into our world will bring more light, but light also reveals the extent of the darkness. We cannot get out of this darkness on our own. We come to realize we need God to save us.

As you leave retreat, slow down. Admire the silence, but enter more deeply into the stillness where you can admire the tiny child who is to be born for us. We have to ask him again, "Are you the one who is to come?" Wait for his answer. Be patient. Be gentle. Provide him with the nourishment and care he needs to get through the night. Together, his life and ours are entwined. Learn to grow more intimate with him. May he find the wonder in our beauty as we find the beauty in his wonder.

Go, now. Tell John and others what you know. A child is to be born to us, a son will be given - a child who will reveal a God who is beyond all names. God promises to be with us because God yearns longingly for us. Who is this One who is to come? Come. Let us go meet him.


  1. This is a fantastic post - thank you so much. There is so much to ponder here that I will have to read it a few times - very rich in goodness and hope but also realistic !! I will post a link to it from my blog too.
    Blessings for the beginning of Christmas coming soon !!

  2. I liked this sermon a lot when I heard it about 11 hours ago, and I'm pleased to find the text here.

  3. Thanks, Patricia. Thanks, Philomena. Blessings for these O Antiphon Days and Happy Christmas!