Sunday, December 4, 2016

Show us the way; a Homily for the 2nd Sunday of Advent

I want you to show me the way!

I doubt that Peter Frampton was pondering Advent or thinking about John the Baptist when he wrote the lyrics to this song. Truth is; we do want people to show us the way.

All through our lives others help us by showing us the way. From our parents, teachers, supervisors, mentors, leaders; all these and more show us the way. And we too have probably helped others by showing them the way.

On this second Sunday in Advent, do we follow those who are showing us the way? Today our Advent lessons are from Isaiah and John the Baptist, among others, who show us the way to Jesus and His ministry of salvation.

In Matthew’s Gospel we glimpse the most common image of John the Baptist. There he is in the wilderness, proclaiming the coming of the Lord, preaching repentance, clothed in camel’s hair, wild looking to many and eating locusts and honey. And his message: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. The author of our first reading, I call him the Advent prophet, Isaiah, in another verse describes John the Baptist: a voice crying in the wilderness; prepare a way for the Lord; make straight his paths.

We remember from previous Advents that many incorrectly believed that it was John the Baptist who was the Messiah. But John always set them straight; it is not I it is another. So convinced that it might be John the Baptist even the Pharisees and Sadducees went out to see John the Baptist in action. What a mistake. As soon as the Baptist sees them he cries out: you brood of vipers. Not exactly a warm friendly greeting, but John, Israel’s first prophet in more than two centuries, knew that these Pharisees and Sadducees would not make a straight path for the One who is to come. Many of them would be his adversary during the years of His public ministry.

We should take special note of the line in today’s Gospel that says: even now the axe is laid at the roots of the trees. Even in these early days of Advent we are given a clear reminder that the straight path that Jesus will follow for our salvation leads to His death on a tree; the crucifix of Calvary.

What should we take away this Sunday from John the Baptist and his powerful message? Can we focus on our Advent; are we taking the time to reflect on Jesus’ coming or do we get too distracted with the worldliness of “the holidays”? Do we even understand that we are preparing for so much more than commemorating the birth of Jesus or standing next to the crèche focusing on His birth? Yes, we celebrate his birthday, but Advent should also be a time of personal preparation and reflection as Jesus comes to us today, in His Word, the liturgy and the Eucharist. And Advent should be about preparing for not just His coming as a baby, but his second coming in all His glory!

Are we reflecting daily in Advent with the Word of God? Are we focusing our prayer life in Advent on Jesus and His coming? Are we preparing ourselves by going to reconciliation? Are we helping others have a straight path by participating in our “star tree” program for the neediest children in our area, or making food and gifts available to the food bank? Or can some among us share this good news, this powerful message of the Baptist who proclaims the coming of the Lord? This Advent, can we share the message of hope and joy with just one person who so desperately needs to hear it?

Peter Frampton had a pretty good idea with his song, show me the way. But John the Baptist calls us; he shows us the way to Jesus.

And someone out there needs you to show them the way. Everyday!

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