Advent 2 Sun Yr A (2017)
Ss. Peter & Paul/Danville
So – family – how’d we do? Last week kicked off Advent – our season of preparation for the coming of Jesus – recognizing that we have to pay attention. Do you remember? If we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss the boat. So get ready! Because Jesus is coming. But don’t be afraid… Can you say that with me? If we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss the boat. So get ready! Because Jesus is coming. But don’t be afraid…
We said that Advent was a training ground for living the Christian life, because the Christian life is lived waiting for Jesus. We’re waiting for Him to come at the end of our lives and at the end of time – we’re waiting for Him to come every day to help us become more holy, more free from sin, more free for love – for loving God and others. And do you remember what Jesus said in last week’s Gospel about His coming: “As it was in the days of Noah so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man…they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…they didn’t even notice anything was happening until the flood came and swallowed them up.” In other words, if we’re not paying attention we’ll miss the boat!
Every day of the Christian life is a struggle to pay attention to Jesus…and that’s especially hard when we’re doing all these things to try to get ready for Christmas. Isn’t that ironic? Shopping, Christmas cards, wrapping presents and stringing up lights – and even our Christian service if we’re not careful – all these things we’re telling ourselves we’re doing to get ready for Christmas can be do distracting that we miss Jesus. If we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss the boat!
Last week I offered two simple, concrete suggestions to help us pay attention. The first was to say a little prayer asking Jesus to help you notice Him in whatever you do to get ready for Christmas – and the second was to do one concrete thing to pay better attention to Jesus, like attending a daily Mass each week of Advent or reading the daily reflections in the little purple book. There’s still time – we’re only one week in – I hope you’ll still do those things… because if we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss the boat. So get ready!!!
So get ready! That’s what John the Baptist seems to have been all about, don’t you think? Trying to tell people to get ready. He even wore funny so folks would notice him, maybe hear his message above the buzz of everyday life: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Everything John the Baptist said or did was in service of that one message: Get ready!
There was a sense of urgency about it too, wasn’t there? “Even now the axe lies at the root – produce good fruit to demonstrate your readiness – every tree that does not bare good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” There’s no ‘maybe next year” in his sentiment; no “there’s plenty of time” – no, there’s a sense of urgency. If you’re a tree, and you’re expected to produce fruit or be cut down and tossed into the fire, things are urgent when the axe is already laying by your roots.
Do you feel a sense of urgency when it comes to getting ready for Jesus? Let’s try a little comparison to open our eyes a little bit. Raise your hand if you spent any time shopping or considering Christmas gifts this past week…let’s see, how many is that? OK. Now consider: this past week I heard only 5 confessions apart from our boys and girls who made their first confession… Is it possible that our children get it better than we do? How does your sense of urgency to get to the mall or get that online shopping done compare with your sense of urgency to get to confession before Christmas Eve?
Let’s try another one – how much time have you spent decorating your home for Christmas, writing Christmas cards, or wrapping presents since Thanksgiving? 3 hours? 5 hours? More? How does that compare to how much time you’ve spent praying…? Friends – there’s no doubt that we’re busy getting ready for something... but if how we’re spending our time is the measure – and I think it is – I’m just not sure what we’re getting ready for is Jesus. That’s why John’s message is so important! “Repent! The Kingdom of heaven is at hand! The axe is already laying at the root of the tree! Get ready – Jesus is coming!!!”
How do we get ready for Jesus to come? Well, John the Baptist gives us a concrete recommendation: “Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance,” he says. We’re Catholic. We believe that Jesus works most powerfully in our lives through the sacraments. And each and every one of us here today has room for repentance – each of us has sin (mortal or not) – each of us has something to confess. In that context, it would seem the primary ‘good fruit’ we can produce to show our repentance is to get ourselves to confession. Many of you will not like this truth – but it is the truth nonetheless: No one can be ready for Jesus to come without making their sacramental confession. Period. All around the world – and all through our parish – people are celebrating the breath of fresh air that Pope Francis is bringing into the Church. I see bumper stickers that say “This pope gives us hope!” And that’s wonderful! But many of us who are celebrating Pope Francis are only celebrating the parts of what he says that we want to hear. If you listen to his whole message, you’ll realize Pope Francis is a champion of sacramental reconciliation and believes we need to go to confession to get ready for Jesus to come! If you’re a Pope Francis fan, it’s time to get to confession…
Our 12 second graders preparing to receive the Eucharist for the first time did it – because they know there’s no way to be ready to receive Jesus when He comes without confessing. Is it really possible that they need confession before Jesus comes more than you and I do?
If we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss the boar. So get ready! Because Jesus is coming. But don’t be afraid…
Friends – this week, let’s keep our hearts and minds focused on paying attention by saying our small little prayers asking Jesus to help us notice Him in our Christmas preparations and by coming to a daily Mass or reading our Advent reflections each day. And let’s get ready by making our confession.
This week, confessions will be heard 5-6pm on Wednesday, and after Mass as time allows. There will also be confessions on Friday evening at 5:30 until everyone in line has been heard, and again on Saturday from 3-4. And if those times don’t work – let me know and we’ll schedule something – my cell number and email address are right on the cover of the bulletin.
If we’re not paying attention, we’ll miss the boat. So get ready! Because Jesus is coming. But don’t be afraid…