Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Advent
Friday afternoon, I was leaving St. Rose Worship Site Office and as I turned onto Greenhead Road, it was then that I noticed them! Nine beautifully decorated wooden Reindeer! I thought, ‘how awesome is that!’ People were slowing down to look, others walking, were taking pictures and really enjoying them. On the 6 O’clock news, there was a clip about them. Mark Doiron, owner of Doiron Sporting Goods, had 9 local schools paint/decorate each of them. He went on to say that he wanted so share some holiday cheer for the many struggling with the restraints of covid 19. Just as our parish asked our community to decorate their homes to ‘Light up for Advent’ for the very same reason, Mark is trying to bring comfort to those of us who are struggling to make sense of where we find ourselves.
Last week, Fr. Tom filled in for me. I took the weekend off because I was feeling drained and defeated and very tired… in need of comfort! Asking about you, jokingly, I said to him, “I hope you did not carry on…” He told me that he told you about our trip to New York 2007! He did go on to say that he shared with you that ancient Israel was suffering, because they were ruled by Romans which brought about a lot of suffering for the people of that time. Today’s readings offer a ‘tenderness’ or ‘comfort’ for the difficult times we are living through, especially the First Reading from the Prophet Isaiah: “Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem… cry to her…” Comfort, we all are looking for it. If we are struggling with the events in our world, causing us grief and anxiety, I would encourage this reading from 2nd Sunday Advent. Pray it, instead of “Jerusalem” put your name there! What a difference that makes! So many of us need comfort right now with the pandemic worsening; the isolated and those living in fear of catching the disease and the fear oflay offs. College and university students who will be stranded at school for Christmas. Celebrations that have gone to zoom or cancelled. Family we cannot visit because of covid restrictions… or if we go to “red” just like Easter, we may not have our traditional Christmas Masses.
Currently, I am reading a book by Erik Larson, entitled, The Splendid and the Vile it’s about Churchill, his family, cabinet and the dark times of the Blitz. Last night I read about how the people of England were not allowed to have any Christmas Lights or noise… church bells were used only to signal the beginning of approaching bombs by the Germans. Black paper covered windows of buses, trains and homes… no light. That was not so long ago… 78 years.
Yes, these are chaotic, uncertain times and yet there have always been uncertain times, and we have made it through, just as we will with this pandemic… as long as we do our part like John the Baptist… as long as we are cautious and listen to the ‘medical advice’ given. As Christians, we know down deep that only trust in God will bring us peace. Therefore, let us ask ourselves, “What do we need to do to stay grounded in God so that we can give comfort to others?” What about playing some of our favourite Advent/Christmas music, or putting up a decoration that has a special meaning (put up your own ‘wooden reindeer’!) or reflecting on a special memory of a gone by Christmas? Phone call to another or praying for a different person every day?
In the Gospel for today, John was very clear about what his role was: “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” John was preparing the world for Jesus, our Redeemer. Instead of gaining on his newfound ‘fame’, John humbly continued to fulfill the mission given to him. John helps us realize that we don’t have to do everything, we just need to do our part by bring comfort to others, especially those in most need. We do this very well: every year, we give great support to Lonewater Farm, these item place before our altar, given, blessed and shared! Contributions made to Christmas Baskets, Empty Stocking Fund, your goodness to your parish, etc. All ways of revealing the tender heart of Jesus to others… bringing them comfort.
Going back to the First Reading from Isaiah, it began on a comforting note and ends the same way… with comfort: “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them close to his heart, and leading the ewes with care.” My dear friends, we are those lambs and ewes… Jesus is holding and leading us. May we continue to trust in the One who offers us the ultimate comfort… Emmauel… God with us!