FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT
Today’s readings are reminding us of the purpose of Christmas but more importantly they remind us of how we should be living our lives every day. As if every day we are preparing for the new light, the new life.
The first reading tells us of the coming of the birth of Christ. The second reading tells us that our Savior Jesus is coming to show us how to make more progress in the kind of life that we are meant to live. The image I got from this reading was one of an impatient God. After all, we had been walking on this earth for close to 200,000 years! The third reading reminds us that we know not the time that our life on earth will end so we must live as if today is our last day, that every day is Christmas because every day we are Christ on earth.
So, today, I thought I’d do a kind of report card on our progress as the children of God. Since, we get a negative snapshot of ourselves every day on the news - morning, noon and night. I chose to look at us through the lens of our “original goodness” and highlight some of the many large and small ways we, the children of God, have been Christ on earth.
Here are some examples of the divine presence in each of us!
In the 20th Century alone man invented vaccines for diphtheria, whooping cough, tuberculosis, tetanus, yellow fever, typhus, influenza, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, chicken pox, small pox, pneumonia, hepatitis A and B, and lyme disease. We can make a prosthetic hand for a young child with a 3-D printer and some inexpensive liquid plastic. In the past, parents couldn’t afford the cost of one prosthetic hand for a child never mind having to purchase several as that child grows. With the 3-D printer, the cost has become affordable. What a difference that must make for that handicap child. We are able to grow every organ in the human body in a laboratory except the brain. We can perform heart and liver transplants and now even facial transplants. We can reconnect limbs. We have found cures for certain cancers, have stopped the spread of AIDS, Ebola and almost eradicated the Guinea worm disease in Africa. Airplanes, cars, liquid-fueled rockets, TV’s, computers, lasers were invented. We’ve traveled to the moon and beyond. Technology has put us in touch with one another around the world and expanded our universe. In the US and most of Europe, women gained political rights, have become more independent, lead countries, corporations and churches. The civil rights movement in the US and apartheid in South Africa drew attention to the injustices of segregation. India and Pakistan became independent countries, the Jewish state of Israel was created and colonialism ended in many African and Asian countries, the United Nations was formed. We saw the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and East Germany. East and West Germany were united. We created blues, jazz, rock and roll, soul all kinds of dances, fashions and architecture throughout the millennium. We stepped up to the effects of pollution in our waterways and the potential extinction of many creatures on earth. I never thought I would see an American bald eagle in my lifetime or alligators and certain whales. But I see some of them regularly. We recreated the Big Bang and have a deeper understanding of the origin of our being. The discovery of nuclear reactions, in particular nuclear fusion, revealed the source of solar energy. Radiocarbon dating was invented and is used to help us determine the age of prehistoric animals, plants and objects.
Those are just a few of the changes brought about in the 20th Century by everyday people, like you and me, that have moved these ideas and philosophies forward. How many of the great inventions of our lifetime were created by two people in a garage or at home like cars, airplanes, computers, liquid paper, the circular saw, the Murphy bed, chocolate chip cookies, popsicles, and so on and so on.
And then there are the everyday stories of “Good Samaritans” like the Muslim kid, riding a subway in NYC, who noticed a young couple being harassed by ten thugs for answering “Happy Chanukah” when greet with “Merry Christmas”. Fearing for the young woman’s safety, the young Muslim man pushed one of the thugs and the gang pounced on him. The couple got help. The young Muslim man ended up with two black eyes and a sore nose but refused medical help because he worked two jobs and couldn’t afford it.
Or the policeman who buys a car seat for a young mother who couldn’t afford one instead of giving her a ticket and the one who bought a homeless person a pair of shoes; the anonymous person who paid a layaway bill at Kmart for a single Mom last Christmas; or the millions of us from every country around the world who contribute to charities every year to help others in need.
It’s every day people like you and who we can and do make every day Christmas day for others. I think God would say “It’s good, it’s very good!”
Please share with us how you’ve witnessed Christ’s work in your daily living.
Dialog homily Starter
"Joy to the world!" we Christians sing at Christmas. But what if we are
joyful for the wrong reason? What if the wrong reason actually limits the
joy we should be celebrating?
There is something not quite right with our traditional understanding of
Christmas. We have been taught that we are celebrating God coming into our
world in the birth of this child, and that sentence highlights the problem.
It is time to reflect on what "coming into" suggests. For most of my life I
understood Christmas in terms of a God who had disconnected from humanity,
who lived in the heavens and sent His Son down from to take on human form in
the baby Jesus. There was a "sending" and a "coming into" from outside the
I no longer imagine "God" in that way. I now believe that everything that
exists unfolds with a Divine Presence, always and everywhere active. There
is no "elsewhere" with this Presence. There is no disconnection from this
Presence. The Presence always has been, is now, and always will be,
sustaining everything in existence.
Here on this wonderful planet, where the conditions are ideal for life to
evolve, this presence came to magnificent expression as nowhere else in the
known universe. Here, this Presence came to expression in the human, a life
form capable of wonder, creativity, love, compassion, appreciation and
communion. Here, the Divine Presence took on human form.
This is our true story, It is the story Jesus knew well because it was
embedded in hi own human reality. It is the story he told. It is the story
he desperately wanted people to hear because he knew it had the power to
change their lives.
Christianity, unfortunately, took its eyes and ears away from the story
Jesus told, in favor of another story about disconnection from a God in
heaven and that only Jesus could bridge the gap between heaven and earth.
For Jesus, there was no gap. That was not the story he told. He wanted
people to see the connection between living in love and intimacy with the
Divine Presence. He wanted to see God's Presence clearly established on
earth through belief that all people carried this Presence in their lives.
Rather than celebrating God coming into our world uniquely in this baby, let
us celebrate the Divine Presence in every baby, in each of us. Let us look
around our Christmas gathering of family and friends and acknowledge that
each person here bears the same reality we acknowledge in Jesus. We are all
human expressions of the Divine Presence.
Joy to the world, indeed, if people could hear such a story about Jesus and
Reports Nov/Dec 2015: p 43)
What is my understanding of Michael's reflection?
What does this reflection speak to my heart?
After reflecting on the reading by Michael Morewood how might I prepare to
celebrate Advent and Christmas differently this year?