Homily – December 8, 2019

Let’s think for a moment on the image Isaiah puts before us in our first reading. He uses the image of a stump of a once mighty tree representing the kingdom of Israel, a kingdom that had been cut down by defeat and exile. A dynasty left for dead.

And yet from that stump came new life, new growth, and a new future. From that stump came the promise of time of peace and justice – total opposites living in harmony; the wolf and lamb, the leopard and kid, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear.

There can be times when we feel we’ve been cut down, we feel like that lifeless stump, we’re out of hope; we have nothing left. We feel that all our efforts to be good and loving people do not bear fruit. We struggle with our daily realty that the good we want to do, we do not do and the evil we would not do, we still do. We struggle every day to be loving and forgiving men and women. We try to be accepting of men and women who believe and live differently than we do. We try to be more aware of and sensitive to the needs of our neighbours. And when the sun goes down we know we haven’t lived and loved anyway near the image of harmony Isaiah offers in today’s scripture. We try to love others with the same generosity with which God has loved us but we know that is beyond us.

We have yet to see accept the truth that God does not erase our struggles, he is with us within them.

Advent is trusting the truth that God’s grace can bring new life and transformation out of the stumps of our lives because with God all things are possible. We wait on and work with God’s grace. As one of the saints said,’ all shall be well and all shall be well and every manner of things shall be well.’

We wish the imagery of the gospel might be true in our lives, our crooked ways made straight, our rough ways smooth, our high opinions of ourselves brought low so that nothing in our daily living could hinder the coming of God’s kingdom into that part of our lives which has yet to be redeemed.

May we all have the faith to believe that the shoot of Jesse is sprouting in all our lives. God’s transforming grace is not finished with us yet, there are more possibilities for goodness, for forgiving past hurt, healing old wounds, there are more possibilities for us to be more open, more accepting of people of other faiths, other life styles, other racial backgrounds from ourselves.

Our stumps, our struggles are filled with the possibilities of new life; God is not finished with any of us.