Monday, December 5, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration

How could we be,
perhaps, an invitation
to an evolution of
faith rather a
Transcript of homily recorded on Monday, Dec. 5, 2011

Daily Advent Inspiration for Monday, Dec. 5, 2011 (Monday of the Second Week of Advent)

By Father Perry D. Leiker

This set of readings certainly speaks about the messianic times and the fulfillment of them in Jesus. It's very similar to what we hear, except that there is a detail that strikes me very poignantly this day, especially the first reading, but it's in all of them.

The sense of the messianic age changing everything — truth and justice and peace shall kiss, the lion will lie down with the lamb, the child shall play in the adder's lair — there's this sense that this complete change will come, something radical will happen, and a new age will be ushered in. That's certainly is the spirit that we hear in all of this Advent season. However, that's what I would call a revolutionary experience; a revolution would happen in all of nature, in all people, in people of faith — a radical revolutionary change would come. However, today introduces not just a revolutionary spirit but, I think, an evolutionary spirit; that something would slowly evolve, it would take its steps, its course naturally, it would enlarge and grow and deepen and become more.

The reading from Isaiah captures this evolutionary spirit very beautifully: "The desert and parch land will exult. The step will rejoice and it will bloom." Even blooming is a process that happens; it doesn't just "poof" — it opens, slowly, but surely. Then it goes on: "They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Strengthen the hands that are feeble. ..." Anybody that has arthritis or anything where we have weakness and painfulness in our joints, to find strenght happening, it doesn't usually happen revolutionary, but evolutionary. We feel the strenght coming back.

"Make firm the knees that are weak." Any of us with weak hips, weak knees, we know the blessing when we just begin to find our strength and the pain lessening.

"Say to those whose ... who are frightened: Be strong, fear not! ... Here is your God, he comes with vindication ... he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened. ..." After we've heard news that he will come and strengthen us, be not afraid, and we begin to find the strengthening of our spirit and opening to that joy of the Lord, a realization that God is coming, he will come, he will give us what we need, then the eyes of the blind will be opened, the ears will be cleared, the lame will leap like a stag, the tongue of the mute will sing, then streams will burst, etc.

This happening, this evolution, this growing, this deepening, this strengthening, this is what we come to share during this Advent. I suppose this is the reason why the church, with a wonderful spirit, always celebrates not just for a day. Every great feast — Easter, Christmas — we celebrate for at least eight days, an octave. We celebrate the octave. We have to unpack it for days. We have right now the novenario, the nine days in preparation for [the feast day of Our Lady of] Guadalupe, because we don't just jump into the feast, we unpack it for days, preparing, opening it up, readying ourselves, getting the earth all tilled and fertilized so it will be planted on the feast day, and vavoom, now the revolution will take place because the evolution came before it.

This is what this is about. I just was starting to write my notes for the bulletin, and I thought, just to focus on this evolutionary sense: We have Immaculate Conception on Thursday; we have [the feast day of Our Lady of] Guadalupe on Monday; we have a chance for renewal through reconciliation with the sacrament of penance on Tuesday; we have many, many priests here so that people can take this time seriously in an evoilutionary sense, come to a sense of forgiveness, come to a sense of healing, and come to a sense of readiness for the coming of Christ at Christmas.

All of this season speaks to us about evolving into a more open place with our God, and it reaches a huge, beautiful climax in the Gospel passage today. Jesus is at this house preaching and it's packed with people. From somewhere distant, a paralyzed man is carried there on a mat. This is certainly evolutionary. He didn't come from another town and — poof! — appear. They walked him, and carried him, and lugged him along. And then they got there only to face disappointment — we can't even get in there. It's too crowded. Nobody will let us in. Typical selfish crowd: "I want to hear him! Stay out there! Push him out!"

So they drag him up on the roof and they take off the tiles of the roof and lower him in front of Jesus. Can the drama get much richer than this? My God! And then you notice this roof coming off and people lowering a paralyzed man right in front of Jesus as he's preaching. And so he just says these words: "Your sins are forgiven." And then the chisme and all the commentary begins: "Only God can do that! Who is he?! He blasphemes!" And so Jesus, in a very evolutionary way — because he's trying to get them to see and understand, not just heal someone, heal their hearts, heal their vision, heal their understanding — asks this wonderful question. So I'll ask you: What's easier, in your opinion? Just say, "Your sins are forgiven" or to say, "Rise, get up and walk" to a paralyzed man? Because what evidence would you have of this — "Your sins are forgiven"? That's easy to say. But he said, because they doubted him and to make his point — and I think probably, in a very planned and deliberate way, to bring them along to help evolve their hearts and their minds, because we can be stubborn people — he said, but I will show you. Rise, get up and walk. He does. And he just goes home glorifying God. Just goes home glorifying God. And Luke's presentation says: "They were stuck with awe and they did the same." They were brought from this incredulity to a place of glorification of their God because they saw the wonders of God.

So what about you and me? How does this grace and love of God evolve within us? How does it evolve in our kids? What about our kids who aren't coming to church and haven't for a couple of years, and it distresses us off the chart? How could we be, perhaps, an invitation to an evolution of their faith rather a revolution?

"You go to go to church at least for Christmas!" That's a happy Christmas morning. "At least for Christmas! Aren't you going to go?!"

"OK. Allright, mom. I'll go." Oh, geez. That's a very beautiful revolution of spirit

But what if you began now? You know?

"Honey, we've never been to Our Lady of Guadalupe feast. Why don't we try it? Let's go to the one at 5 a.m. How fun!"

"You know, I don't about you, but I haven't been feeling good. I really would like to go to the sacrament of reconciliation today. Anybody want to go in this house. There's a bunch of priests. Nobody will even know who you are. Why don't we just go, get ready for Christmas?" And even if they don't go, at least an invitation has gone out, something might be evolving.

So why don't we commit to the scripture today? Why don't we say in our family we're going to be evolutionists? We're going gonna help that spirit to evolve. We're gonna invite. We're gonna welcome. We're gonna announce the good news. We're gonna let them know what's happening in the calendar. There's all kinds of things possible. Why don't we go to Christmas Day as a family this year? It's two or three weeks away. Why don't we? Why don't we do it five o'clock, the children's Mass, then we'll be ready for Christmas Eve and ready for everything. Why don't we begin to evolve, to evolve within our family, and to invite a evolution in their spirit and, perhaps, it will be the way that we best prepare for the coming of the Lord?

Father Perry D. Leiker is St. Bernard parish administrator. Reach him at (323) 255-6142, Ext. 112.

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