2nd Sunday of Advent Year C

     It seems to me that as the days are becoming shorter our world is growing darker and darker. Just last week a gunman surrendered to police after killing three people and wounded another 9 in Colorado Springs, this past Tuesday a gunman killed 10 people and wounded another 7 in Oregon and just 1 day later two people opened fire in San Bernadino California killing 14 people before being killed themselves. It seems to me that with all of this darkness in our world, St. John’s message from the desert, which we just heard in the gospel needs to be heard in our day. We need to make way for the Lord in our lives because as we make way for Him, our lives will be filled with hope, which will illuminate the darkness of our world. This season of Advent calls us to be filled with hope, or as the prophet Baruch reminds us, in today’s first reading to take off our robe of mourning and misery and put on the splendor of glory from God. We need to look east to the coming of Christ and be filled with hope.

     It is precisely in these darkest moments that the candles of the advent wreath call us to hope. These two purple candles remind us of our need to discover the infant Jesus in the darkness of this world. But how? I believe we can find Him by “being liberated from what is anti-divine, the quest for pleasure, enjoyment, passions, gain or in a word ourselves.”[1] This season of Advent beckons us to see Christ, the light of the world, even in the darkness of our world, by coming to know him more personally. “We will know God to the extent that we give Him room to be present in us. A person can spend his life seeking God in vain if he does not allow God to continue in his life the presence begun.”[2]

     In a world of increased darkness our world needs the hope found in the baby Jesus. It’s the beautiful thing about Christmas; namely that it reminds us that in the midst of darkness God does not stand far off. Rather God became man; He came into this world of darkness to bring light. It is Jesus who beckons us to come towards a personal relationship with Him, the Light of the Nations.  As this personal relationship with our saving light grows we come to realize that while there is darkness in our world there is true peace in our hearts because we come to know that anything we experience, He has already experienced. It was God Himself who came and experienced every pain and torment that we can imagine. “There is no fear, no emotion, no worry, no anxiety, no obstacle, no adversity that He didn’t face before we did, and in fact, much more so.”[3] It is the paradox of Jesus, that out of the greatest darkness He brings blinding light and as we come to experience that hope in our lives it brings lasting peace. After all “true peace is realizing that it doesn’t matter what’s happening in your life. Peace from faith in Christ is in knowing that God will give you what you need to get through adversity”[4]

     For the past two weeks Msgr. Breier and I have been holding listening sessions with any parishioner who wants to come. They have been remarkable experiences as we learn about how great our parish is and some of the challenges we face going forward. In each of those meetings, many of the participants have asked how do we bring people into our Church? It is certainly a challenging question that most parishes face. While I don’t claim to know the complete answer, and I think it must be a multifaceted answer, I believe it calls us to be witnesses of the Hope of Christ. You see when the light of Christ is burning inside each and every one of us, it shines ever more brightly in the darkness of our world. That interior peace which springs from the hope of Christ will radically transform the way we look at the world and the way we live in this world of darkness. When we live with that hope and peace, people cannot help but notice that light shining through us. The light of Christ, alive in our hearts will draw others to want what we have, it will invite others to investigate the source of that hope and peace and ultimately lead them to an encounter with the light of Christ, which will then transform their life.

     Even if the world appears to be getting darker, this season of Advent compels us to look forward with hope to the coming of Christ. It challenges us to look inward on ourselves to see what is preventing the light of Christ, which dwells in our hearts, from shinning outward to be the bright beacon of hope in a world of darkness. My friends, with hope in Christ, let us open our hearts to Him this Advent, so that when He comes to us this Christmas, His light shining from our hearts can illuminate our dark world.

[1] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Dogma and Preaching (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011) pg. 325.

[2] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Dogma and Preaching (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011) pg. 325.

[3] Senator Marco Rubio. Address To Pastors in Iowa 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXZq3QvXq6c

[4] Senator Marco Rubio. Address To Pastors in Iowa 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXZq3QvXq6c

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