December 2, 2018

This Advent we embark on an adventure into the sounds of God’s covenant.  We are invited to find riches in the proclaimed Word of God as we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.  The Liturgy of the Word makes known the dwelling place of God’s promise and wisdom.  If we are to awaken our soul to embrace God and be embraced by God we are challenged to set ourselves on a pathway through reflection and meditation, awareness and insight, conviction and dedication.  We must first believe we are going to embrace the Word of God, Jesus, in our time of prayer and preparation.  This means doing all we can to listen intentionally, doing all we can to find the richness of love and forgiveness, hope and justice in God’s holy Word.  Secondly, we are to be embraced by the Word of God, Jesus our Savior.  This means we are to carve out time to be still and listen to what God wants to say to us.


This week the Gospel tells us that there will be signs and some will die of fright at what they see.  What are the sounds of fear?  What happens when we are afraid?  We do not have to look far to see the signs of violence, the hearts of parents broken open by gun violence.  We as a parish have been informed and have shared information about safety from active shooters.  Yet fear is real.  It undermines peace.  What are we most afraid of?  Where do we go when we are afraid?  The second sound we are to look at is more internal.  Jesus says to be aware that your hearts do not become drowsy.  How often have we become drowsy and numb to the things around us?  How often have we said, I am tired of hearing the same thing over and over?  Most of us can agree that by the time Election Day happened, we were tired of the negative campaigning, no matter what side of the aisle on which we sit.  Many would DVR a program in order to fast forward through the negative campaigning.  We can become numb to certain things.  We can choose not to listen to any more rhetoric on some issues.  It is important to capture that and know that about ourselves.  When that happens we can easily move that to other parts of our lives.  I remember hearing my mom say my dad had selective hearing.  How selective is our hearing?


We are embraced by the fierceness of God who wants to embrace us and surround us with His love.  In the first reading God reassures us of our covenant with Him.  He speaks of the just shoot from the House of David.  The reference from the prophet Jeremiah is a convincing promise that God will set everything right.  Are we able to trust that?  God can and will set everything right.  This is what everyone in Biblical times was looking for.  Do we look for it?  Do we trust it? It is interesting that the last line of the first reading says “the Lord our justice.”  It does not say the Lord His justice, or the Lord God’s justice, or the Lord is justice.  It says the Lord our justice.  This indicates a partnership with us.  We are not abandoned and we are not subjects without participation in the process of God’s love.  The Lord our justice indicates relationship.  This is the most powerful sound of God.  He longs for relationship with us.

When I had the opportunity to visit Lourdes, France, the power of God flowed from a deep place.  After dinner each night I would walk back to the shrine about six blocks. It was dark and I was alone, but I was propelled to walk the streets going to a place of sacredness.  I can remember when I reached the gates which were still open, from a place deep inside, I would feel the embrace of something holy and flowing from my mouth were the words of the Hail Mary, over and over.  Uncontrollably, I would recite the words.  It was from a place within, a place in my spirituality that was untouched.  By candlelight of the shrine I would just wonder in wonderment.  It was an embrace that went far beyond fear.  It was relational, but I had no control of the relationship; God had control through the intercession of the Blessed Mother.  Every night I was there it became my routine.

May this Advent awaken us to the sounds of God’s Holy Word and those of the Blessed Mother.

Reverend John J. Ouper