FR. TOM'S HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, December 1, 2019:
One day, a man received a parrot as a gift, but the parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird’s mouth was rude and obnoxious. The man tried to change the bird’s attitude by saying only polite words and prayers. Finally, fed up, he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. He shook the parrot. It only got angrier. In desperation, he grabbed the bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and screamed, but then suddenly there was total quiet. Fearing that he’d hurt the bird, the man opened the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out and said “Sir, I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I’m very sorry and I fully intend to correct my rude behavior.” The man was stunned and as he was about to ask the parrot what had changed his behavior, the bird pointed to the item next to him in the freezer and said, “May I ask what the turkey did wrong?”
A little turkey humor for you on this Thanksgiving weekend. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you’re like me, you’re still full from Thursday. One of the interesting Thanksgiving suggestions I saw on a cooking show was the Turduken. If you don’t know it, it is a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken – a sort of mash-up of a few different things. I remember hearing the ultimate mash-up a few years ago with the word, Chrismahanukwanzakah – a combination of Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza into one mega-holiday. I saw a new one online this week, a holiday dessert called Cherpumple. Have you heard of this? It’s essentially three different pies – cherry pie, pumpkin pie and apple pie – all stacked one on top of the other all brought together with a sugary frosting. Guaranteed to put you into a diabetic coma! It goes nicely with TurDucKen! I’m not sure why we are so fascinated with these kind of mash-ups. But, I bet it has something to do with the fact that there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. The more we can combine, the better.
But, in the midst of this silliness, this busyness, the Church gives us this beautiful, peaceful, and calming season of Advent. I think it is purposefully given to us right in the middle of the busiest time of the year. In the midst of holidays, parties, and shopping, the Church invites us to stop, to breathe, to reflect, to take our time, to be renewed and refreshed once again in Jesus – to step out of our normal time, and into this precious Advent-time.
We’re invited to spend some time pulling apart all that the world has tried to mash together for us. It isn’t Christmas yet. There aren’t a million things to be done. You haven’t fallen behind. So stop, pause, and let the wonder of the beauty of this season unfold. Embrace the waiting and watching and anticipation that Advent welcomes us into.
And our readings today have a particular message for us. In case you missed it, the message was: wake up! Our second reading told us that now “is the hour for you to awake from sleep.” Jesus was more direct saying simply, “Stay awake!” I hope it isn’t reflective of the quality of the homily today and its ability to lull you to sleep. Instead, we are being reminded to stay awake because something is on the horizon; wake up because something is about to happen; something new is around the corner and we don’t want to miss it. We want to prepare; we want to be ready; to see with new eyes.
What are we waiting for? What are we meant to be awake for? Of course, for Jesus. But, not merely to recall His birth on Christmas Day. But, to be awakened to remember, once again, that He never left; that He is always right here and if we are not awake, we might be in danger of missing the presence of God in our midst.
My friends, here we are, all of us, often living in apprehension and anxiety; trying to make sense of our world, coping with our struggles as best we can – sickness, death, disappointment, loss, loneliness and fear. And in the eternal now that is our God, Jesus comes to join us; to comfort us as only God can comfort us and make us feel loved, as only God can make us feel loved. And, that is the point of Advent – to slow down, to wake up, to see that Jesus is right here. So, let Him wrap you – wrap your struggles, your anxieties, your fears and disappointments; as well as, your joys, your triumphs, your love and your blessings – let God wrap all of that tightly in His loving and cradling arms. He wants to be present to you; to comfort you and share His profound love for you and with you.
The world wants to tempt you with its busyness, with its activity, with its Chrismahanukwanzakah and even with its Cherpumple. But, resist the temptation and instead enter Advent-time where Jesus wants to break through all of that busyness and be made present to us once again; present on this altar as bread and the wine become Body and Blood for us; present in our hearts and in our lives, so that we can become the comfort and love that He wants to extend to everyone we meet.
My friends, let us stay awake so that we may not miss the Visitation of Christ in our midst. Stay awake and let God comfort us, love us, and prepare us to welcome Him with renewed joy at Christmas.
May the Lord give you peace.