Homily for November 27th, 2005.
Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.
Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.
1 st Sunday Advent B
Advent is the season in the liturgical year in which, with greater urgency than at other times of the year, we are encouraged to look forward in joyful hope to the coming of the Lord. But how do we yearn for a Saviour unless we identify, name, and recognize our need for salvation.
Our need for salvation is displayed in what fills the nightly news and the daily papers. You find some of that displayed as well at the entrance of the church during these weeks of Advent. Some might wonder whether we should bring this stuff into the church. Should the church not be a place where we leave that stuff behind for a while? On the other hand, why hope and long for a Saviour if we do not name the reality we need a Saviour for?
The injustice of a world economic system that keeps millions in poverty. Wars and violence that destroy the lives of men, women and children. Political corruption that enriches the few at the expense of the many. The destruction of the environment on which we and future generations depend for life. Drug and alcohol abuse and the crimes they foster. Child abuse and spousal abuse, murder, theft and rape. Our own sinfulness and our complicity in so many of these evils.
We bring this condition of our world before God. We plead with God to show his face. We recover the honest prayer tradition of lamenting before God how messy this world of ours really is. If that lamenting before God is honest we are also open to God’s way of responding to our prayer. For God has responded in the form of what the prophets of the Old Testament articulate, that is to say the promise of salvation very often captured in striking images. But even more than that, God has responded to our prayer in the form of the gift of Jesus, the first born of a new humanity, of a new world, the very foundation of God’s Kingdom of love, peace, justice, forgiveness, new life. Jesus Christ is God’s investment in our world, an investment God has made because of his faithfulness and of his love for our world.
This gift of Jesus is not a quick fix for making our world new. Yes, this Jesus lived for and ultimately gave his life for the realization of the promise of salvation, for the fulfillment of God’s Kingdom. But the realization of that promise of salvation will not come about without us. God has too much faith in us to bring about his Kingdom without our active cooperation. That is why we are summoned to follow this Jesus and live for the reality that Jesus lived for, and still lives for, but now in us. Then we have good reason to look forward in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord Jesus, a hope that the season of Advent seeks to strengthen in us.
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