Homily – December 9, 2018

Can we just imagine this gaunt, dishevelled man showing up out of nowhere and going from town to town along the Jordan River shouting to people his desperate message, repent and prepare the way of the Lord?

This was John the Baptist, a first cousin of Jesus. His destiny was to alert men and women to the man who was to come after him, Jesus. John was a severe man, he believed his mission was to warn and prepare the people for the one who was to come after him. John imagined Jesus as a man like himself, a firebrand, and told the people Jesus’ his winning –fork was in his hand and he will clear the threshing –floor and will gather his wheat into the granary but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.

But Jesus was just the opposite of John’s expectations. He spoke of love and forgiveness. He touched and healed people; he embraced the outcasts of society and patiently listened to their painful stories. A confused John sent his disciples to ask Jesus,’ are you he who is to come or should we look for another’. John expected a different Jesus.

But John’s message rings as true for us today as it did for the people of his own time as he calls us to be open to and readily accept the workings of God in our lives and in the world. John calls us to ‘put on Christ.’

John’s imagery of lowering mountains and filling in gullies and smoothing rough roads should not be lost on us. Can we recognize and face the road blocks, the obstacles we’ve set up by our own life-styles and mind-sets that prevent or stall Christ’s life, teachings and love touch our lives making us better than we are?

Am I whistling in the wind when I suggest our best preparation for the coming feast of the birth of Jesus might be taking the time for self- examination and trying to discover what mindsets and attitudes, what ways of speaking to or of others, what ways of treating and respecting others are road closures to our growth as Christian men and women in the ways we seek to ‘put of Christ’, live Christ-like lives. But whistle I will.

What of that mountain of prejudice, that mountain of our lack of care and concern for the homeless, the unemployed that our own selfishness makes so difficult to level? Why are we resistant to working toward a level lane so that we can welcome men and women different from ourselves as our brothers and sisters and as equally loved by God as we are? Do we seek Christ’s strength to push aside boulders of embarrassment and shame that block our trust in his forgiveness and our road back to the sacrament of reconciliation? Do we trust that Jesus comes to us in the deep gorges of discouragement or depression or the feelings of failure that blight our lives? Do try to fill in those pits with a firm trust in God’s care and love for each of us? As men and women of faith are we ready to prepare the way of life and love into our lives? Can we ask ourselves these questions?

As we continue to celebrate our Mass can we pray for ourselves and for each other that with the help of God’s grace we will do the road work we need to do, and we all know how disruptive road work can be, and open our hears and lives for the coming of the Christ into our lives.