Saturday, November 30, 2013
Stay awake! Jesus is here!
HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, December 2, 2013:
One day, a man received a parrot as a gift, but the parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude and obnoxious. The man tried and tried to change the bird’s attitude by consistently saying only polite words and even prayers to “clean up” the bird’s vocabulary. Finally, fed up, he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. He shook the parrot. It only got angrier and ruder. In desperation, he grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet, not a peep for over a minute. Fearing that he’d hurt the parrot, the man quickly opened the door to the freezer. The Parrot calmly stepped out and said “Sir, I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude behavior.” The man was stunned at this change in attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had changed his behavior, the bird pointed to the item next to him in the freezer and said, “May I ask what the turkey did wrong?”
A little turkey humor for you on this Thanksgiving weekend. Or perhaps I should say, Thanksgivukkah. You may have heard that word, a combination of Thanksgiving and Chanukah, which occur at the same time this year – the first time ever and not again for another 75,000 years. This is a season of mash-ups. Christmas has been in the stores for weeks already. The height of mash-ups I think was a few years ago, with the word, Chrismahanukwanzakah – a combination of Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza. I think the most ridiculous mash-up I’ve come across I saw on a blog (the Deacon's Bench) this week which was a holiday dessert called Cherpumple. Have you heard of this? It’s a dessert that is essentially three different pies – cherry pie, pumpkin pie and apple pie – all stacked one on top of the other all brought together with a sugary frosting. Guaranteed to put you into a diabetic coma! Absolutely disgusting. Not sure what our fascination with these mash-ups is this time of year. Perhaps there just isn’t enough time to get it all done?
And in the midst of all of that, the Church gives us this beautiful, peaceful, and calming season of Advent. A spiritual season that I think we are given purposely right smack in the middle of the busiest time of the year. The Church invites us today to stop, to breathe, to reflect, to take our time, to be renewed and refreshed once again in Jesus.
We’re invited to pull apart all that the world has tried to mash together for us. It isn’t Christmas yet. This, instead, is a season of waiting and watching and enjoying what that kind of anticipation feels like.
Our readings today have a dominant message: “Stay awake!” I hope it isn’t reflective of the quality of the homily and its ability to lull you to sleep. Instead, we are being reminded that something is on the horizon; something is about to happen; something new is around the corner and we don’t want to miss it. We want to prepare; we want to be ready. Our second reading told us that now “is the hour for you to awake from sleep.” Jesus was more direct saying simply, “Stay awake!”
What are we waiting for? What are we meant to be awake for? Of course, for Jesus. But, not just to recall Him and His birth on Christmas Day. But, to be renewed so that we might remember, once again, that He never left; that He is always right here and if we are not awake, we might be in danger of missing that presence in our very midst.
My friends, here we are, all of us, often living in apprehension and anxiety; trying to make sense of our world, coping with our struggles as best we can – sickness, death, disappointment, loneliness and fear. And in the eternal now that is our God, our Lord comes to join us; to comfort us as only God can comfort us and make us feel loved, as only God can make us feel loved. And, that is the point of Advent – to slow down, to wake up, to see that Jesus is right here. So, let Him wrap you – wrap your struggles, your anxieties, your fears and disappointments; as well as, your joys, your triumphs, your love and your blessings – in His loving and cradling arms. He wants to be present to you; to comfort you and share His profound love for you and with you.
The world wants to tempt you with its busyness, with its activity, with its Chrismahanukwanzakah and yes, even with its Cherpumple. But, resist the temptation and instead enter Advent time where Jesus wants to penetrate that busyness and be made present to us once again; present on this altar as bread and the wine become Body and Blood for us; present in our hearts and in our lives, so that we can become the comfort and love that He wants to extend to everyone we meet.
My friends, let us stay awake so that we may not miss that Presence of Christ in our midst and let that presence of God comfort us, love us, and prepare us to welcome Him with renewed joy at Christmas.
May the Lord give you peace.