Advent Homily: We are in a time of joyful hope
By Mons. Peter Jeffrey:
T.S. Eliot wrote a beautiful poem “The Journey of the Magi”. You may have noticed as you came into Church today that the figures for our Christmas crib (the Shepherds and the Wise men or ‘Magi’) are making their way to our Bethlehem crib! They set me musing – Christmas is new each year – always new. I mean by that each annual celebration invites us –
To be reborn in faith
To open ourselves to hope
To rekindle our LOVE.
This Sunday in Advent is known as Rejoicing Sunday – hence the different colour candle in the Advent wreath. At the school Mass on Friday the children had an action song “Maranatha” – meaning Come Lord Jesus! Tap into that longing in our hearts as we offer this Advent Mass.
Ask ourselves “What are our Advent hopes this year?” They will be very different from the days when as kids we were counting the days to Christmas and wondering whether I would get all the things I wanted. This Advent 2018 we may think of all the people in our Goulburn Valley who are e.g addicted to drugs. We hope they get the treatment they need. Perhaps it is that some of the young people we know will find good friends.
Our Advent prayer may be perhaps that the wars and conflicts in different parts of the world will find a path to peace. I pray and hope that refugees and asylum seekers will find our governments more amenable to helping them find a place that they can call “home”.
John the Baptist had similar hopes. He lived in a land full of poverty and violence. He called people to change their lives by treating others fairly and being ready to share their resources. He told them that Jesus was coming to baptise them with the Holy Spirit and fire. I sat and asked myself what does John mean when he says “and with fire”. I think it comes down to this – we are asking that in 2018 the Holy Spirit will give us (and our families) the courage and the passion to hope and work for a better world.
Think about the people whom you know who are making a difference and helping to build a better world -especially for those who are struggling in our neighbourhood. As an example, it was so good to see so many at the St. Vincent de Paul dinner during the week joyfully celebrating all the service given during the year to people in our local neighbourhood. Yes, if we look around, we see that the fire that John the Baptist speaks about is burning in the hearts of many today.
Advent is a time of waiting in joyful hope. We are looking forward to celebrating the fulfilment of God’s promises in the One born for us at a particular place and time. The challenge – and it is a personal challenge for each of us – is that he longs to be born again in our hearts and neighbourhood this Advent. On this “Gaudete Sunday” we are reminded to rejoice always in the Lord.
John the Baptist knew that this personal love of God for us was a free and undeserved gift. He said he was not even worthy to bend low and undo Christ’s sandals. We do not have to be worthy to welcome Jesus – we never can be worthy by ourselves – but we are called to let His presence change our attitudes and behaviour.
Today’s Gospel shows us what it means in practice. Whatever shape they may take, genuine Christian generosity and kindness will be with happiness and JOY.
As we continue to pray the Mass we rejoice in God’s gifts to us – let us also be joyful in happily sharing them with others.
*This is Mons' homily from the Third Advent Sunday of 2018