Fr. Rudy's Homilies
THIRD SUNDAY IN ADVENT - 2009
Child's Definition of LOVE
A group of
professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8
year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader
and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:
Mirroring the joy build-up of Scripture is the escalation of positive human emotion for many-though not all-during this time of year. The Christmas season buds with awareness, love and builds with anticipation. Ideally, the march toward great joy is not only characterized by gift-sharing, social gatherings, and television classics, but solemn moments of spiritual exploration and introspection.
Realities of around us
While Advent represents a sky of widespread hopefulness, such sky is not unclouded. Advent/ Christmas season can be more grueling than glorious for those whose lives are already highly stressed. Caregivers, including clergy, are especially vulnerable. Higher than normal expectations and demands during the holiday season may be enough to topple persons who have already been living on the edge of emotional collapse.
Moreover, domestic violence increases as persons feel unable to fulfill what they perceive to be minimal family obligations and responsibilities. Alcoholism, depression, drug addiction, shaken baby-syndrome, suicide, and homicide are horrific signs of the inability to cope with stressors often exacerbated during the holiday season. Thus, perhaps as at no other time in the liturgical year, is the historic therapeutic function of African American preaching and worship more important than during Advent and Christmas.
Luke 7:18-35 may be characterized as the last earthly sighting of Jesus by John the Baptist. Luke is the only gospel which contains all three viewings. John's first sighting of Jesus occurs while he is still in the womb of his mother. It is a spiritual visioning of Jesus that causes baby John to leap in the womb of his mother Elizabeth (Luke 4:1).
The second sighting occurs on the banks of the river Jordan. For days, months, and years, John, infant-turned-iconoclast, had been, with intensity, preaching, baptizing and looking; preaching, baptizing, and looking; preaching, baptizing, and looking. Finally one day he shouted, "There he is!" He'd caught sight of the one who would "baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire" (Luke 7: 16).
Lastly, Luke records a third sighting of Jesus by John. However, the noticing of him in Luke 7:20 is strikingly different from the earlier ones. The earlier sightings evidenced certainty and excitement. John seemed to know who Jesus really was before Jesus was even born. Moreover, John's unbridled enthusiasm while still in Elizabeth's belly and on Jordan's bank argues for his being acknowledged as the first one who ever "shouted" about Jesus. Yes, Mary, the mother of Jesus, shouts in Luke 1:46-55 but her shout, no less magnificent than John's, is inspired by what God has done (something worth shouting about) more than it is about who Jesus is.
However, by Luke chapter seven, certainty and enthusiasm are dimmed by John's status behind bars. Glad certainty about Jesus turns to simmering suspicion about him:
"Are you the coming one or do we look for another?" (Luke
Ways of Loving Care
This text may be used to encourage church leaders to be out front in exhibiting compassion and understanding. To do this is to see Christian leadership in a larger light. More than taking charge of a group or an initiative, Christian leadership is about leading in offering love, forgiveness, and grace to others. Who can question the need for such lavish soulful leadership in our churches and our world today?
Challenges of Love
The focus texts can be brought together with a beautiful challenge to pastor and people alike to see each other as God sees them. Jesus' response to the questioning of John was to really look, to consider what was actually being done to help people: "The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them." (Luke 7: 32) Peter implores the first believers to be first in blessing each other as God blesses each one of them. As we see with the eyes of faith, let us see with the eyes of God. Beholding each other through God's eyes has a positive, powerful influence on our attitudes and actions toward each other. If joy is to take hold of our hearts this Advent season, it will only be done if we see others as God sees them.
Soft or delicate in texture and consistency; easily broken, cut, compressed, chewed; not strong or robust; unable to endure hardship and fatigue. If we were developing a list of characteristics needed for living in a world where violence and danger were ever present, perhaps "tender" would not make our final list of desirable attributes. On the other hand, tender's original meaning, "to stretch, hold out," might cause us to think twice about the matter. Would the violence and danger in our world be lessened by the presence of more people who could stretch past their fears and with perseverance, work and wait for redemptive new ways of seeing, listening, and thinking?
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