Second Sunday of Advent
December 9, 2018
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
It’s kind of intimidating for a priest to preach during Advent:
we keep having to face up to the first great preacher of the Gospel:
St. John the Baptist.
Still, as the SVC told us:
“[P]riests, as co-workers with their bishops,
have the primary duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God to all.”
You know as well as I do, that priest is limited in his ability to preach “to all”
–and I’m not talking about his competency,
or knowing exactly what to say on a particular Sunday
to a particular crowd.
What I mean is that a priest is limited in that he just can’t be everywhere all the time:
and there are some places he’ll never be.
But the thing is, the priest isn’t necessarily supposed to be and preach in those places
–but maybe you are!
You– the lay people of the Church
–the vast majority of the members of the Body of Christ
–are called to go into the world you live in to proclaim the Gospel,
in your jobs, in your schools, and in your families.
As St. Paul tells us in today’s 2nd reading:
“I pray always with joy …because of your partnership for the gospel
from the first day until now…”
And as St. Luke tells us, St. John the Baptist came preaching that we all must:
–“Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”
I’m called to proclaim this to you and to the whole world in a public way,
and you’re called to proclaim this to those you come in contact with everyday.
But before any of us can proclaim— or give— the word to others,
we must first listen to–or receive— the word of God ourselves.
Before the vocation to give is the vocation to receive:
–the primary vocation of each and every one of us is
“The Universal Call to Holiness”.
–preparing the way of the Lord to come into our own hearts.
The proclamation of the word begins with ourselves
–preach to yourself first: as Jesus reminds us,
“first take the log out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly
to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye”
–listen when your wife…or your parents…or your children,
proclaim the word to you.
–listen to the words of Sacred Scripture
proclaimed in the midst of the Church assembled for Mass,
or in the privacy of your own home:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,”
–listen with open hearts to priests who have been called by Christ
to proclaim this message
–even if he’s not a very talented preacher,
or even if you don’t like him personally
–God has chosen him and made him an instrument of His grace
through the sacrament of holy orders:
somewhere— in even this muddled homily—
there’s something that God wants you to hear.
And finally, listen to the voice of God,
the whisper of the Holy Spirit, in your hearts in prayer.
It’s so easy this time of the year that the secular world wrongly calls
the “Christmas season” not to listen.
–to loose track of the message of Christ in the hustle and bustle of things
–shopping, television specials, parties, music, families getting together
But this is the “Advent Season”–and this season is all about listening,
as St. Paul says:
“to discern what is of value.”
In today’s Gospel we’re reminded of how St. John the Baptist
rid himself of all distractions in order to listen.
He went into the desert to prepare for the coming of the Savior by listening
And as he listened, Scripture tells us that:
“the word of God came to John …in the desert.”
Of course, its not necessary to go out into the desert
to find a place to listen to the Lord.
As we come closer to Christmas we’re reminded of another person
who listened to God: the Blessed Virgin Mary.
She listened in that quiet room in Nazareth when the angel Gabriel spoke to her.
And for nine months,
amid the commotion of
her visitation to St. Elizabeth at Ain Karim
and the long trip to Bethlehem with Joseph,
she prepared for Christ’s coming by listening to the will of God.
And after His coming, her listening to God continued:
listening to her Son, Jesus:
from his laughter as she held him in her arms as a tiny baby,
to listening to his final words at the foot of his Cross.
First we listen–we receive–and then we give–we proclaim.
But each of us is called to proclaim in different ways.
John listened, and boldly went out into the world
and loudly and publicly proclaimed the Gospel.
Mary listened and quietly went on with her life raising her family,
listening to Her son,
and later on proclaiming the Gospel in her own quiet way
at the wedding at Cana, at the foot of the Cross,
and in her private time with the apostles and the early Church.
How are you preparing the way of the Lord?
Are you proclaiming the word of the Lord?
Is your own heart prepared?
Are you listening to the word of the Lord?
How are you listening amidst the busyness of the secular celebration of Christmas?
There are many ways of listening.
Sometime you can do this as Mary did so often,
by simply living your daily life at work and home,
listening to Christ speak to in the events of your life
and in the lives of those around you.
But sometimes, like Mary’s cousin John the Baptist and her Son Jesus,
and surely Mary herself,
we need to find a quiet deserted place to contemplate…to listen.
This Advent there are lots of ways to get away to listen, especially here in church.
For example, every morning during the week we have 2 Masses you can attend
—at 6:30 and 8:00.
And Wednesday evenings we have 7:00 Mass.
And every Wednesday and Friday we have adoration and benediction.
Another powerful way to listen and prepare the way of the Lord,
especially to make “winding roads …straight, and the rough ways …smooth”
is to go to confession,
especially if you combine that a few minutes
in prayer before Our Lord in the Tabernacle.
We have confessions every single day of Advent,
but I especially encourage you to come on a weekday evening,
from 6:15 to 7pm.
And of course, this evening at “Lessons in Carols”
–a beautiful way to listen and to prepare.
Perhaps you might also be able to listen to the Lord as he speaks through me,
and come to my Thursday evening series on “Looking at the Nativity.”
Not to mention that the Church is open most days
from 6:00 in the morning to 9:00 or so in the evening.
— come here alone just to get away to a quiet place,
just you and Jesus in the Tabernacle.
There’s lots of ways to prepare…in this parish and all over the diocese.
Pick up a bulletin and you’ll find lots more.
Take advantage and prepare.
As we continue our celebration of this Holy Mass on the Second Sunday of Advent,
having opened our ears to hear the proclamation of the Word of God,
let us continue to open our hearts
to prepare to receive Him into the depths of our being.
And as we go forth today from this Mass,
having received the message preparing us for the Coming of our Savior,
let us prepare to go boldly go into the world
to proclaim this message to all we meet,
–to “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”