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Advent Homilies

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Today’s readings

Do you remember the best gift you ever got?  What was it?  Who gave it to you?  How long did it last?  Do you still have it? 

Every gift is a little different: some are big, some are small, some make a lasting impact, some are used up and soon forgotten.  The best gifts, I think, are those that create a memory of good times; perhaps the best gifts are those that can be shared.

God gives us gifts too.  And some are big, and some are small, but all of them are important to us and to others.  In this season of giving, I’d like to take a moment to talk about God’s gifts, and how they are to be enjoyed.  There are four points I want to make.

First, God’s gifts are given to be used.  They’re not supposed to be like an action figure that is to be kept in its package and preserved so it can be sold in ten years for a lot of money on eBay!  They aren’t like the “good china” some of us have and almost never use.  They’re supposed to be used for our happiness and God’s glory.  So if it’s a talent for sports, we ought to play.  If it’s intelligence, we ought to study and research and invent.  If it’s creativity, we ought to paint or act or sing.  Keeping it in a box and denying it is an insult to the Giver.

Second, God’s gifts are never just for us.  God gifts us in ways that we can build up our community and our world and help people to come to know God’s love for them.  Always.  Mary never could have kept Jesus to herself, and we’re not supposed to keep our gifts to ourselves either.

Third, we will never know how wonderful our gifts are until we share them with others.  Our gifts are supposed to create memories and bring people together and help people to know God.  When that happens, the full wonder of those gifts will be revealed to us and in us, and we will enjoy them in ways we never could have before we shared them.

Finally, we don’t lose our gifts when we share them.  They don’t get used up when we give them away.  Just as Mary didn’t lose her Son when she gave him to the world, so we won’t lose what God has given us when we share it with others.  That’s just how God’s gifts are.

In today’s Gospel, Mary received a gift.  I don’t know how any of us would feel about that kind of gift, but Mary received it in faith, because Mary was full of grace.  She received the gift of a Savior before anyone else did; her fiat meant that she received salvation before it was ever played out on earth.  It was the best gift ever, and she got to watch it all unfold before her.  Some of it was difficult and painful, but so much of had to be amazing.

Because of Mary’s faith, God was able to send the best gift possible to be shared with all of us: the gift of his only-begotten Son.  Jesus took on our flesh as a little baby, and grew to become a man like us in all things but sin.  He walked among the people of his time and helped them to know of God’s kingdom.  Though he was without sin, he eventually took on our sins and went to the cross for all of us, dying to pay the price for our sins, and canceling out the power that sin and death had to keep us from God.  Because of Mary’s faith, we received the gift of salvation, if we are open to accept it.

And just like all our other gifts from God, those same four principles apply: we have to use, or live our salvation; we have to share the gift of salvation with others; salvation becomes more wonderful every time someone else is saved, and salvation is not something that ever gets used up – it’s meant for everyone.

So this is a bit of a “pep talk” for the coming feast of Christmas and how we should receive and live that gift of salvation.  Let’s be clear: we always need a Savior.  We are sinful, and in our sinfulness we could never enter into relationship with God.  And in this year, our need for a Savior seems to be even greater: the darkness of a pandemic and the sadness of racial unrest and all the other societal unrest we have endured this past year.  This year has been hard on families and workers and schools and just about everybody.  We need to be people of faith and follow our Savior more than ever. And we have to be people who share that gift with others, pointing them to the love and salvation we have in Jesus. 

Our salvation, our relationship with God, is a gift, and it’s up to us to spread it around.  It’s a shame if someone doesn’t know about God and his love for them.  But if they don’t know because we didn’t use our gifts to tell them, then it’s a sin.  This is the season for giving gifts.  The very best gift you can give to anyone is a relationship with God.  Whether it’s your children, or coworkers, or people in the neighborhood, your gift will do so much to make the world a better place.  All we have to do is respond like Mary: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.”

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Advent Homilies

O Wisdom

Today’s readings Mass for the school children.

Did you hear that? That was quite a list of names, wasn’t it? It always strikes me that this list of characters, which is basically the human family tree of our Lord, is so much like any of our families’ history. This is a list of forty-two generations of the nation of the people of Israel led by people of greatness, and, well, people of something else. Some of them were heroic like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah and to some extent David and Solomon. But some of them were pretty wicked, especially Manasseh, whose wickedness in shedding innocent blood made God so angry that he allowed the Israelites to be taken into captivity by the Babylonians during the reign of king Jeconiah. So we have forty-two generations of people, some of whom were saints and some who were sinners, great men and flawed men, all leading up to the Incarnation of Christ, who was the only way to end the cycle of sin that spiraled all through the story.

We’re just about to start the last week of Advent, and today we begin the more intense period of Advent that extends from December 17th through the morning of Christmas Eve.  During this time, the Church’s Liturgy makes us yearn all the more longingly for the birth of Jesus and his presence in our lives.  Just as forty-two generations of a mix of wisdom and foolishness could only be fixed by the presence of Christ, so the foolishness of our time calls for Jesus too.

During these last days of Advent, we pray the “O Antiphons.”  We hear those antiphons famously in the song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  The verses are also used during Evening Prayer.  Today’s is “O Wisdom,” and the verse from “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” is, “O come, O Wisdom from on high, and cheer us by your drawing nigh.  Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadow put to flight…” We trust God to come near, to be Emmanuel, God-with-us, to satisfy our longing for wisdom, to make sense of all the craziness in the world, with the loving presence of Jesus.

And so we pray: Come, Lord Jesus and bring us peace. Come, Lord Jesus and put an end to the world’s foolishness. Come, Lord Jesus and bring us your Wisdom. We need you! Come quickly and do not delay.

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Advent Homilies

Tuesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

One of the television shows that I like to watch sometimes is called “Chopped” on the Food Network.  If you’ve ever watched the Food Network, you’ve probably seen it because they seem to run it about 18 hours out of the day.  On this show, they start with four chefs, and they give them a basket of really different, and sometimes strange, ingredients, all of which they have to use, to make either an appetizer, main dish, or dessert, depending on the round.  The dishes are then presented to a panel of three judges who are chefs and restaurateurs.  These judges critique each dish and, of course, pass judgment.  As each course goes by, one of the contestant chefs gets “chopped” or eliminated, while the others continue to compete.  At the end of the show, the winner gets ten thousand dollars.

On one particular episode, one of the chef contestants had a real problem with arrogance.  He couldn’t see how anyone could possibly make a dish better than his, even though his always came out looking ragtag, and from what the judges said, tasting the same.  He would not listen to any of the critiques, because, well how did these people know anything?  He survived the first round, but was quickly eliminated in the second round, mostly because the judges got tired of his arrogance.

That came back to mind when I read today’s gospel reading.  Jesus tells the chief priests and elders, “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you.”  That had to be terrible news.  Because those chief priests and elders were living what they thought was a good life.  They were the “decent people” of society.  Nobody could be noticed by God before they were, surely.  But Jesus says they certainly are.  Why? Arrogance – again.

Like the arrogant chef, those chief priests and elders refused to listen to any kind of criticism.  John the Baptist had preached repentance, and the tax collectors and prostitutes, the riff-raff of society, had listened, and were gaining entrance to the kingdom of God.  Meanwhile, those so-called decent folks, the ones who should have known better, were in for an eternity of wailing and grinding their teeth.

The arrogant chef merely lost out on ten thousand dollars.  The arrogant chief priests and elders had lost out on quite a bit more: eternal life.  Today, we all pray for the grace to overcome any arrogance in us and accept correction for the sake of our salvation.

Categories
Advent Homilies

Tuesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

One of the television shows that I like to watch sometimes is called “Chopped” on the Food Network.  If you’ve ever watched the Food Network, you’ve probably seen it because they seem to run it about 18 hours out of the day.  On this show, they start with four chefs, and they give them a basket of really different, and sometimes strange, ingredients, all of which they have to use, to make either an appetizer, main dish, or dessert, depending on the round.  The dishes are then presented to a panel of three judges who are chefs and restaurateurs.  These judges critique each dish and, of course, pass judgment.  As each course goes by, one of the contestant chefs gets “chopped” or eliminated, while the others continue to compete.  At the end of the show, the winner gets ten thousand dollars.

On one particular episode, one of the chef contestants had a real problem with arrogance.  He couldn’t see how anyone could possibly make a dish better than his, even though his always came out looking ragtag, and from what the judges said, tasting the same.  He would not listen to any of the critiques, because, well how did these people know anything?  He survived the first round, but was quickly eliminated in the second round, mostly because the judges got tired of his arrogance.

That came back to mind when I read today’s gospel reading.  Jesus tells the chief priests and elders, “tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of God before you.”  That had to be terrible news.  Because those chief priests and elders were living what they thought was a good life.  They were the “decent people” of society.  Nobody could be noticed by God before they were, surely.  But Jesus says they certainly are.  Why? Arrogance – again.

Like the arrogant chef, those chief priests and elders refused to listen to any kind of criticism.  John the Baptist had preached repentance, and the tax collectors and prostitutes, the riff-raff of society, had listened, and were gaining entrance to the kingdom of God.  Meanwhile, those so-called decent folks, the ones who should have known better, were in for an eternity of wailing and grinding their teeth.

The arrogant chef merely lost out on ten thousand dollars.  The arrogant chief priests and elders had lost out on quite a bit more: eternal life.  Today, we all pray for the grace to overcome any arrogance in us and accept correction for the sake of our salvation.

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Advent Blessed Virgin Mary Homilies

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary: Prevenient Grace

Today’s readings

I love that the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is celebrated during the season of Advent.  Advent is a season of anticipation: God’s promises echo through the Old Testament, and in these Advent days, we see those promises coming to fruition in exciting and world-changing ways.  Today’s feast is a glorious glimpse of that reality.

We are honored today to celebrate this, the patronal feast day of our parish and of our nation.  This, of course, celebrates Mary’s conception, not that of Jesus, which we celebrate on the feast of the Annunciation.  Blessed Pope Pius IX instituted the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8, 1854, when he proclaimed as truth the dogma that our Lady was conceived free from the stain of original sin.

This feast celebrates the belief that God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to be our Savior, and gave to him a human mother who was chosen before the world began to be holy and blameless in his sight.  This feast is a sign for us of the nearness of our salvation; that the plan God had for us before the world ever took shape was coming to fruition.

The prayer over the offerings today uses a very technical theological term to describe how Mary was born, conceived actually, without sin, and that term is “prevenient grace.”  The prayer specifically says, “…Grant that, as we profess her, on account of your prevenient grace, to be untouched by any stain of sin…”  Prevenient grace is the same as other kinds of grace in that it relies on the saving action of Jesus on the Cross at Calvary, dying for our sins.  But prevenient grace refers to grace applied before that happened, as would have been in the case for Mary who was obviously conceived before her son was put to death.  This prevenient grace relies on the fact that God loved us so much that he foresaw the sacrifice of the Cross and applied the grace of it to Mary at her conception.  As the Collect prayer today said, “…as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw…”  All of this is a very technical discussion that boils down to the fact that God will not let the constraints of time limit the outpouring of his grace.  And that’s the really good news we celebrate today.

So, I think we know why this prevenient grace, this Immaculate Conception, was necessary: the readings chosen for this day paint the picture.  In the reading from Genesis, we have the story of the fall.  The man and the woman had eaten of the fruit of the tree that God had forbidden them to eat.  Because of this, they were ashamed and covered over their nakedness.  God noticed that, and asked about it.  Of course, he already knew what was going on: they had discovered the forbidden tree and eaten its fruit.  They had given in to temptation and had grasped at something that was not God, in an effort to control their own destiny.

Thus begins the pattern of sin and deliverance that cycles all through the scriptures.  God extends a way to salvation to his people, the people reject it and go their own way.  God forgives, and extends a new way to salvation.  Thank God he never gets tired of pursuing humankind and offering salvation, or we would be in dire straits.  It all comes to perfection in the event we celebrate today.  Salvation was always God’s plan for us and he won’t rest until that plan comes to perfection.  That is why Saint Paul tells the Ephesians, and us, today: “He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.  In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…”

And so, in these Advent days, we await the unfolding of the plan for salvation that began at the very dawn of the world in all its wonder.  God always intended to provide an incredible way for his people to return to them, and that was by taking flesh and walking among us as a man.  He began this by preparing for his birth through the Immaculate Virgin Mary – never stained by sin, because the one who conquered sin and death had already delivered her from sin.  He was then to be born into our midst and to take on our form.  With Mary’s fiat in today’s Gospel, God enters our world in the most intimate way possible, by becoming vulnerable, taking our flesh as one like us.  Mary’s lived faith – possible because of her Immaculate Conception – makes possible our own lives of faith and our journeys to God. 

Our celebration today is a foreshadowing of God’s plan for us.  Because Mary was conceived without sin, we can see that sin was never intended to rule us.  Because God selected Mary from the beginning, we can see that we were chosen before we were ever in our mother’s womb.  Because Mary received salvific grace from the moment of her conception, we can catch a glimpse of what is to come for all of us one day.  Mary’s deliverance from sin and death was made possible by the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, who deeply desires that we all be delivered in that way too.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

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Advent Blessed Virgin Mary Homilies

The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today’s readings
School Mass

I think we’re so blessed that we get to come to church and celebrate so many of Mary’s feasts.  Today is a very special feast because Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of the United States of America, and also the patroness of our parish, and so she is very special to us.

I think today’s readings can be a little confusing.  The Gospel makes it sound like this day is about the conception of Jesus, but it isn’t.  We celebrate the conception of Jesus nine months before he was born, so that would be March 25th.  We call that day the Annunciation, because that was the day the Angel Gabriel came to announce to Mary that she would have a baby, but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.  Today we celebrate the conception of Mary, nine months before her birthday, so if you do the math on that one, her birthday is September 8th, just a few months ago.  This day celebrates that Mary was free from sin from the very beginning, the only person other than Jesus to be born without sin.

The other confusing reading is the first one.  Why do we go all the way to the beginning of creation when we’re talking about Mary today?  Well, I think the reason is that Mary’s life and her faith in God solved a problem that began all the way at the beginning.  And that problem is sin.  From the very beginning, we human beings have been tempted to sin.  Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden, and people have been committing sin ever since.  Again and again, God broke in to history, leading people back to him, giving them prophets to show them the way, and again and again, people turned away from God.  And we continue that today.  Again and again, we are tempted and we sin and we turn away from God.  Eve represented our fall into sin.

But God didn’t want that to be the way things ended up for us.  So he sent his Son to become one of us.  God knew that in order for Jesus to be born among us, his mother was going to have to be pretty special.  So before Mary was ever in her mother’s womb, God chose her to be his Son’s mother.  He made her free from sin so that no stain of sin would ever touch his Son. 

Because Mary was so special, she loved God very much.  So when the angel came and told her she would have a baby by the power of the Holy Spirit, she said yes to God’s plan.  She might not have known at that moment all the detail about how it was going to take place or what would happen to Jesus in his life, but she said yes anyway.  We call that her fiat, her “yes” to God’s plan for her.  Fiat is Latin for “let it be done.”  She took a big leap of faith that day, thanks be to God, because with her leap of faith, we have been blessed ever since.

This is all very good news.  But there is even more good news: because Mary was so special to God, she shows us how special we are to God.  As we celebrate God’s love for Mary today, we also celebrate his love for us.  Mary got to hold her Savior – the One God promised us – in her own arms.  When those of us who are old enough come to Communion, we are able to hold our Savior – the One God promised us – in the palm of our hand.  Mary’s life was brightened when Jesus was born.  Our lives will be brightened too, this coming Christmas, and every time we make room in our hearts for Jesus.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

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Advent Homilies Sacrament of Penance

The Second Sunday of Advent: Be Reconciled

Today’s readings

This week, I looked back in my homilies to the one I did a few years ago on this Sunday, and I had to chuckle just a little bit.  I talked about the fact that it’s hard to listen to the news in those days.  Ha!  There was sure some sadness in those days: unrest in the middle east, abuse scandals in the entertainment industry and political arena, crime in our cities, and so much more.  But here we are, a few years later, with the sadness of a pandemic complicated by political and social unrest.  It certainly seems like sadness compounds itself, doesn’t it?  

And so as we enter into Advent this year, I think we Advent more than ever. We need Jesus to come and put an end to all our foolishness, to fix all our brokenness, to wipe away our sickness, and heal all our sin and shame.  I am guessing the followers of Saint John the Baptist felt the same way.  They dealt with all the same stuff that we do: corruption in government, poverty, racism, and crime – none of this is new to our day and age, unfortunately – it never seems to go away.  And so they did what I think has to be a model for all of us today: they came to John, acknowledged their sins, and accepted the baptism of repentance.

They came to John, because at that point, Jesus wasn’t in full swing with his ministry, and they were seeking something new and something good.  We then, might come to Jesus in the same way, come to the Church, seeking something good and something new.  We need newness in our lives and in our society; we need the complications of doing simple things in every moment erased so that we can go back to normal, however that may look in the future.  We need a renewed culture of life and the ability to be Church again.  We need unity in Christ for all the people God has chosen as his own.

And then, like those followers of John the Baptist, we have to acknowledge our sins – personal sins and those in which we participate as a society.  We have to repent of our brokenness and seek to turn our lives and our society around.  We can’t keep sinning, we can’t be in love with our sins and say that we love God; we have to repent, literally be sorry for our sins and turn away from them, as we turn back to God.  That’s an important Advent message for every time and place, now more than ever.

It genuinely strikes me that, if we’re ever going to get past the bad stuff going on in our nation and our world, if we’re ever going to finally put an end to whatever sadness this world brings us, we have to begin that by putting an end to the wrong that we have done.  That’s why reconciliation is so important.  What each of us does – right or wrong – affects all of us.  The grace we put forward when we follow God’s will blesses others.  But the sin we set in motion when we turn away from God saddens the whole Body of Christ.  We are one in the Body of Christ, and if we are going to keep the body healthy, then each of us has to attend to ourselves.

So today, I am going to ask you to go to confession before Christmas.  I don’t do that because I think you’re all horrible people or anything like that.  I do that because I know that we all – including me – have failed to be a blessing of faith, hope and love to ourselves and others at some point, and I know that so many people struggle with persistent sins, nasty thorns in the flesh, day in and day out.  And God never meant it to be that way.  He wants you to experience his love and mercy and forgiveness and healing, and you get that most perfectly in the Sacrament of Penance.

So speaking of confession, here’s one of mine: There was a time in my life that I didn’t go to confession for a long time.  I had been raised at a time in the Church when that sacrament was downplayed.  It came about from what I came to realize was a really flawed idea of the sacrament and the human person.  But the Church has always taught that in the struggle to live for God and be a good person, we will encounter pitfalls along the way.  We’ll fail in many ways, and we will need forgiveness and the grace to get back up and move forward.  That’s what the Sacrament of Penance is for!

One day, I finally realized that I needed that grace and I returned to the sacrament.  The priest welcomed me back, did not pass judgment, and helped me to make a good confession.  That beautiful experience of coming back has made me prioritize welcoming others back to the sacrament.  Coming back to the Sacrament of Penance was an extremely healing experience for me, and now I make it my business to go to the sacrament as frequently as I can, because I need that healing and mercy and grace.  And you do too.  So please don’t leave those wonderful gifts unwrapped under the tree.  Go to Confession and find out just how much God loves you.

When you do find that out, you’ll be better able to help the rest of the Body of Christ to be the best it can be.  When your relationship is right with God, you will help the people around you know God’s love for them too.  That kind of grace bursts forth to others all the time.

This year, we are challenged offering the Sacrament because of the Pandemic.  We can’t have a penance service in the way that we did, but we are offering some additional times to come to Confession.  So in addition to our English and Spanish Confessions at 2:30pm on Saturday and Polish Confessions at noon on Sunday, we will have Confessions on Monday, December 14 and Monday, December 21 at 7:00pm until all are heard.  We have two additional confessors available those evenings to help serve you.

If you have been away from the sacrament for a very long time, I want you to come this Advent.  Tell the priest you have been away for a while, and expect that he will help you to make a good confession.  That’s our job.  All you have to do is to acknowledge your sins and then leave them behind, so that Christmas can be that much more beautiful for you and everyone around you.  Don’t miss that gift this year: be reconciled.

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Advent Homilies

O Root of Jesse

Today’s readings

In these late days of Advent, we pray the “O Antiphons.”  These antiphons are the various titles of Jesus as found in Scripture.  Today’s antiphon is “O Root of Jesse” and it is found as the antiphon for the Canticle of Mary in Vespers: “O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you.  Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.”

Zechariah in today’s Gospel certainly knew what it was like to stand silent in the presence of the Root of Jesse.  Having been promised a son by an angel of the Lord – what one might consider a very trustworthy source – his disbelief moved him to silence in God’s presence.  Here is a man who, one would think, should know better – after all, he was a priest. But maybe his years of childlessness have led him to accept a life that was not God’s will for him.  Perhaps we could not blame him if the angel’s message was a bit unbelievable; we who have the benefit of so much science would probably be a little harder on the angel than Zechariah was.

When you’re accustomed to living without hope, any sign of hope can be met with an awful lot of skepticism.  Would Elizabeth and Zechariah ever give birth to a child?  How would that even be possible at this late stage of their lives?  Would God save the world from the darkness of sin and death?  Why would he even want to?  Can God be born here among us, giving us rootedness and a solid foundation for our lives?  Why would he even care?

But, friends, better to be silent than to voice our lack of faith and hope.  Then, in the stillness of our hearts and souls, maybe God can speak to our weary hearts and give rootedness to our scattered lives, bring hope to a world grown dark in sin and crime and war and too much death.  Today’s Gospel has God bringing hope to a elderly, childless couple.  God forbid that we would doubt that he could bring hope to us too.

So where have you given up hope in your life?  What is going on that is so burdensome that you have stopped even praying about it?  Is there an dark area of your life that you don’t think God can change?  Maybe bring that to mind today and stand silent in the presence of God.  Let him take the burden of hopelessness from you and bring to birth the Root of Jesse.

We pray today: Come, Lord Jesus, come Root of Jesse, give rootedness to our lives that are sometimes adrift in despair or apathy, give hope to a world grown cold in darkness and disappointment, give life to a people burdened by sin and death.  Come, let us stand silent as we await the dawning of your hope in our lives, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.  Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly and do not delay!

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Advent Homilies

O Wisdom

Today’s readings

That was quite a list of names, wasn’t it?  It always strikes me that this list of characters, which is basically the human family tree of our Lord, is so much like any of our families’ history.  Forty-two generations of the pilgrim people Israel led by people of greatness, and, well, people of something else.  Some of them were heroic like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah and to some extent David and Solomon.  But some of them were pretty wicked, especially Manasseh, whose wickedness in shedding innocent blood incurred God’s wrath such that he allowed the Babylonian captivity that took place during Jeconiah’s reign.  So we have forty-two generations of saints and sinners, great men and flawed men, all leading up to the Incarnation of Christ, who was the only remedy to the cycle of sin that spiraled all through the story.

Today we begin the more intense period of Advent that extends from December 17th through the morning of Christmas Eve. During this time, the Liturgy leads us to yearn all the more longingly for the presence of Christ.  Just as forty-two generations of a mix of wisdom and foolishness could only be remedied by the presence of Christ, so the foolishness of our time calls for that same remedy.

And we don’t have to do all that much imagining to see the foolishness of our own time, do we?  All we need to do is turn on the news and see the sad folly of those we have elected.  Or we can log into social media and see the antics of people famous for being famous, or read hateful rants by internet trolls.  We can also bring to mind our own foolishness, the sin in our lives.  We too need the coming of Christ to put an end to our foolishness.

During these last days of Advent, we pray the “O Antiphons,” from which we derive the verses in the Advent Hymn, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.”  The verses are also used during Evening Prayer.  Today’s is “O Wisdom,” and the verse from Evening Prayer is “O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care: Come and show your people the way to salvation.”  We trust the governance of God, the Creator of creation, to satisfy our longing for wisdom with the presence of the Incarnate Christ.

Come, Lord Jesus and bring us peace.  Come, Lord Jesus and put an end to the world’s foolishness.  Come, Lord Jesus and bring us your Wisdom.  Come quickly and do not delay.

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Advent Homilies

Monday of the Third Week of Advent

Today’s readings

The whole progression of Advent is one that has always captured my imagination.  I see Advent as a kind of dawning of a new day.  Just as the day doesn’t come all at once, so Advent progresses and we see the coming of Jesus ever more gradually as we participate in each day’s Liturgy of the Word.  At the same time though, night doesn’t last forever, and the day arrives more quickly than we might be ready for.  I think that’s kind of where we are at this sort of late-middle point of Advent.

Today we see some glimmers of light.  The prophet Balaam speaks of a star advancing from Jacob and a spear from Israel.  This wasn’t terribly good news for Balaam’s people, but it sure is for us.  The hope of all the earth was in the somewhat distant future for the people of Israel, and even though in the Gospel that hope was standing right in front of them, the Truth of it all had not yet dawned on the chief priests and elders.

Tomorrow we begin a special part of Advent, marked by reflection on the “O Antiphons” which we famously sing in the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and which we pray during Evening Prayer each day.  The Liturgy is pretty strict during these days and calls for us to focus on the coming of Christ and his manifestation among us in so many wonderful ways.

So the question is, have we been progressing faithfully this Advent?  Has the light been made ever brighter in our hearts?  Are we progressing toward the dawning of the day, or will it happen all at once and find us unprepared?  This is the time to light the lamp if we’ve been keeping it dim.  This is the time to wake from our sleep.  Our salvation is near at hand.