Deacon Pat - 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B
Adapted Homily originally written by Msgr James P. Moroney.
I remember the day that Jerry died, as Mary held his hand. She wept. Oh how she wept as she clung to his body in the hopes of somehow not losing the 57 years of married life they had lived and loved together. The kids tried to console her, but it was of little use. She just needed to cry until she couldn’t cry anymore. The pain and the emptiness were much deeper than what I could ever have imagined. She spent the next days and weeks longing for Jerry more than she had ever longed for anything in her entire life. She so wanted him to come back that every creak of the floorboard, and shadow around the corner, made her heart leap in hope.
Regrettably, I lost track of Mary, but did bump into her again about a year later. She was still sad, but not as desperate as the last time I had seen her. I inquired how she was doing and she told me about the day that made all the difference. She said she had gone to Church and she was sitting all alone in the pew staring at the crucifix above the altar. When all at once it occurred to her that it was not actually Jerry for whom she longed, but God. The God who she prayed would forgive Jerry’s sins. The God who would keep her in his grace until the last day. The God who had gone to prepare a place for Jerry, and for her, and for all who loved others as he had loved them. And her waiting for Jerry was just a shadow of her deepest longing for God, her desire for love, and her desire to live in God and to know peace with him forever.
Don’t we all ache for God? Don’t we all wait, waiting for something better, just like: The addict in the alley behind the Gas station who waits for a God who will come and remove all that enslaves him. How about the single mother who waits for a day when she no longer has to work fifty-four hours a week, a night when she can sleep 8, a life when she will finally know the kids will be ok. What about the soldier in the Middle East who waits for a morning when there are no more explosions, and every look is not feared as the precursor to an assault, and when he doesn’t have to bury his new best friend. Or the old man in the nursing home who waits for the day he will no longer be alone, when pain will no longer be his most constant companion, and when he can once again rest in the embrace of her whom he loved. What about the prisoner on death row who waits for a place where he will no longer be seen as evil, for a life that makes sense, for a time when love can be given and received, for the coming of a God who will love him. What about the investment banker who waits for the day when he’s not gripped by the fear that he’s about to lose everything, for the day when he can count his value in the quality of his love rather than the size of his profit. Or what about the little child who waits within her mother’s womb for a world that will welcome her, and parents that will love her, and a country who will protect her.
As Christians we should all realize and recognize that we wait in joyful hope, with baited breath, as we gaze toward the Eastern skies in expectation of the one who rises with healing in his wings…But Exiled in a Babylon of our own selfishness, we cry out: “Rend the heavens, O Lord, and come down to us!” Yet he patiently waits for us in that confessional, ready to embrace us, pick us up on his shoulders, and carry us home to himself.
Still longing to be loved, orphaned by our infidelity and broken promises, we cry out, “Why do you let us wander and harden our hearts?” Yet he patiently waits on that altar, to feed us with himself and to make us sons and daughters of his Father, to live in us that we might live in him.
Still frightened that we have been abandoned, strangers in a strange desert, we cry out: “Let us see your face and we will be saved!” Yet he patiently waits for us in the poor, the sick, and the old, ready to console our frightened spirits.
Let us be honest, We all wait in joyful hope. The part of us that is afraid to confess that secret sin. The part of us that doesn’t think it’s possible to forgive what ‘that one’ did, or that God could really forgive me. The part of us that cries in the middle of the night. The part which feels empty and alone. The part that’s overwhelmed and confused. The part which amidst all the din and doubt waits…waits in silence for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ upon a cloud in all his glory.
My dear brothers and sisters: This is a time for all of us to Wake up and to Get ready. We are to be watchful and alert! We are to go to confession, We are to celebrate the Holy and Sacred Mysteries like never before, and we are to pray; to pray deeply and honestly!
Also, we cannot forget about those around us. We are to feed and care for the poor. We are to go visit the prisoners and the old people in nursing homes. We are to find the ones we have not yet forgiven and call them right now. This is what the season of Advent is all about. Making our hearts into mangers to receive our king, for He is coming. There is but one ultimate question that we need to ask ourselves and ponder: Am I ready…to stand before the One who is Truth Himself, the One who knows my heart completely, the One who has seen everything? Am I ready to meet the Creator of the world, the creator of my soul? Am I.. Truly.. Ready?