This week I stopped at the grocery store and as I was walking in the salvation army guy was outside the door ringing his bell and I thought to myself, “Oh right, Christmas. I gotta get ready for that.” Then as I was waiting at the meat counter I started to be aware of the Christmas music playing on the speakers overhead and I thought, “Oh right, Christmas. I gotta get ready for that.” Then as I was almost done and heading toward the checkouts there was a display of gift wrapping paper and I thought, “Oh right, Christmas. I gotta get ready for that.” And now several days after the grocery store guess what? Yeah, I still gotta get ready for it.
And that’s ok. The fact is that all of us have busy lives and we prioritize what things need to be done and when. I’ll get ready for Christmas and figure out all the gifts… but this week I was busy with more important things, like wandering through the buildings trying to figure where in the world is the community center so I could visit the youth group. Some things are more important than other things, and we prepare for them as the priority dictates. So preparing for Christmas by buying gifts and decorating and cooking and planning the family gatherings… you put that at whatever priority in your life that you want.
But in the midst of all that business as you figure out your priorities, you should hear the voice of the Gospel crying out from the desert: prepare the way of the Lord and make straight his paths. This preparation is different from the gifts and the family gatherings and Christmas in that sense. This preparation we should not set aside. This preparation we should not brush off with, “Oh right, I gotta do that.” The God of creation loved us so much that he took on human flesh so that he could walk among us and know us and speak to us and be with us. Even as he ascended to the Father he gave his Spirit so that we would know him dwelling within us and making us a holy people. And he promised that he would return again and bring creation itself to completion. That is love. That is the desire that God has to be in our lives and our hearts. Without reason and without anything we did to deserve, that is who God is to us. The gospel today asks us if we have prepared to receive that love. Have you made his path into your heart straight? Do you let him be a part of your life?
I know life is busy. But after all God has done… you can’t deny that he deserves the best from us, that on our list of priorities He can only be at top and nothing less. If you need a place to begin this Advent, I recommend the penitential rite that we begin mass with. Take that seriously. When I invite you by saying “brothers and sisters let us acknowledge our sins, and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries”, with serious deliberation remember in your hearts those times that you should have been more. Have that longing for mercy so that you can be with God here in this place. The penitential rite prepares us for mass. May it also prepare the way of the Lord in each of us.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.