John the Baptist and his prophetic mission is exactly what Advent is all about. Not wreaths and violet vestments and hanging out ‘til Santa brings me my stuff. Advent is about getting ready for the return of our Lord and the end of everything as we know it. Thus, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths…” Are you situated right now, settled right now and ready for Lord of your redemption to return? Or, are you wiggling around with the vipers, coming lately to the feast and hoping to sneak in the back door?
Our basic Advent question is: can you produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance? Let’s hope so. John warns, “Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.” Is this meant to scare us? Frighten us like children into a last-second fit of self-flagellation and groveling for mercy? The picture John paints for us isn’t all that comforting. John says that though he himself baptizes you with water “for repentance,” the Lord, “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Wheat goes in the barn. Chaff goes in the fire. Who it is we are waiting on? We’re not waiting on Jesus the Social Worker. Jesus the Hippie Priest. Jesus the Babydoll of God. We’re not waiting on a pacified, commercialized, suburbanized, plastic Messiah. Our Blessed Mother did not give birth to a Group Facilitator or a Dialog Specialist or a Conflict Mediator. Our Father did not preserve the Virgin Mary from all stain of Original Sin so that she might bring into this world some guy to teach us to be nice to one another, to show us how to just get along. As much as we would love to believe that Christ will return and pat us on the head for our C- efforts, his Coming Again is about one thing and one thing only: the consummation of human history, the end of everything as we know it. So, let’s ask that Advent question one more time: can you produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance?
Truly, we must resist the temptation to domesticate our Lord. To whittle him down to a toy or sugarcoat him into a holiday candy. We are not playing a game. We are not feeling the warm-fuzzy of rum nog. The Good News of Advent is that he is coming again. This is the Good News of Christmas, the New Year, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, Ordinary Time, and every solemnity we celebrate in between and among the feast days of the saints. Our need to repent, to turn from sin and to love as God loves, is a daily, hourly need, a nothing-special-about-this-season need. If you are ready, stay ready. If you are not ready, get ready. Why? Because if you have ears to hear, listen: there is a voice crying out in the desert, “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Sunday, December 09, 2007
What are you waiting for?
~an excerpt from Fr. Philip N. Powell, O.P. homily on today's readings: