THANKSGIVING DISASTER AVERTED - NOW FOR AN ETERNAL ONE...

Hi everyone, hope that you all had a blessed Thanksgiving and Happy New Year!  That's right, tonight the Church begins it's new "Liturgical Year" with this season of ADVENT.  Here is my homily for the FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT -November  30, 2014.  The readings can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/113014.cfm.  Thanks as always for reading this blog, sharing it and your feedback.

As Christmas preparations begin to hit a fever pitch, could I ask you to consider a gift to our Newman Center in our Christmas Appeal?  We conduct these fundraising appeals only twice a year to help our mission of bringing Christ to our students and campus - and your generosity is greatly appreciated.  Read more at www.MSUNEWMAN.com.  Many thanks for your support and consideration.


HOMILY:


A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine called and asked "what are you and your family doing for Thanksgiving." Even through the phone I could hear his shock when I told him I was hosting my family.  Quite simply, he knows me well enough that cooking a "Hot Pocket" can be a bit of a challenge at times and that my improvisation in the kitchen could include me trying to google if there’s a way to cook a Turkey on a George Forman grill.  At any rate, I quickly confessed that I had planned to order everything pre-cooked from a local supermarket. About a week and a half ago, I ran over there to put the order in. I never realized how complicated even ordering a meal could be.  Do you want an organic-antibiotic free bird that’s been brined? (What? Ah, yeah, that sounds fine...) What sides do you want. You need to order 2lb minimum per side (okay is 2lbs of mashed potatoes enough for 6 adults and 3 kids?)

I was getting antsy just making these choices but it seemed like it was going okay. Then the lady asked me "Father, when do you want to pick this up? Wednesday night? Because Thursday from 6- 8 in the Morning it’s going to be a mob scene here..." I thought for a second - I didn’t want to get everything the night before and then have it sit till the next day - I mean, again, I’m not a cook, how would I fix it all so that it still tasted fresh from the oven/stove overnight? So I said "well what’s the latest I can come and pick it all up?" She said "well I’m not sure how late the store is open till, but our department will only be here till around noon" - so I said "Okay, how’s 11:00 on Thanksgiving?" She stopped and said "Well, yeah, we can have it ready for you then." Perfect... I thought. Then she asked a strange question "What time are you having everyone for dinner" - I’m not paranoid or anything but was thinking why is she asking that, is she looking for an invite or something? But I let that random thought fly out of my head and just responded "1:30/2:00" She then said "you do know that you have to cook the Turkey..."

Uh.... what?

And then she pointed to the text just above all the different bird options that clearly said "OVEN READY TURKEY" - meaning they have it all set for you to cook. "OH NO - NO NO NO" - "Father it’s really not that hard..." as she pulled out the directions. After I explained this was definitely not going to be my year to experiment cooking a Thanksgiving Dinner and that if need be I would go to Boston Market, buy a bunch of there rotiserre Chickens and pass it off as Turkey, she came up with another Turkey option which didn’t involve cooking the bird.

In a lot of ways I’m extremely grateful that she pressed me on the details. The fact that I hadn’t really paid close enough attention to something clearly stated right in front of me could’ve resulted in a lot of anxiety, frustration, embarrassment on Thanksgiving. (I’m imagining that I would’ve decided to double the temperature of the oven to cook the bird in record time) If not for this stranger’s care and concern, Thanksgiving dinner could’ve been a bit of a disaster.

In tonight’s Gospel, we hear words of care and concern - not from a stranger, but rather the one who knows us most intimately: Jesus Christ. And he’s offering this very short, somewhat abrupt little parable to help us avoid not some kitchen nightmare but a real, eternal disaster for us individually. 

Are we prepared for the day when we meet Jesus Christ face to face? We don’t know if that will be at the end of the world (whose date is a mystery that only God himself knows) or our own "end" (whose date is also a mystery that only God himself knows). But in either case, this Gospel opens up a new year in the Church - a new season in the Church called "Advent." It’s hard with Black-Friday, Cyber Monday and all the other Christmas commercialization for us not to apply that here as well. Advent isn’t meant to be the pre-Christmas season in Church...  True, Advent will (the last week of the season) recall the anticipation of the world at the first coming of Christ at the first Christmas.  But Advent means a lot more than that. At it’s core, Advent is about welcoming Christ not just back then- but knowing and anticipating his return at the end... and the best way to do that; to be prepared for that is to welcoming him here and now. 

That’s why this brief Gospel parable of the master of the house, Jesus gives us the perfect summary of what Advent is about. Waiting.... Watchfulness... Readiness.

Jesus calls us to realize our responsibilities in the present as we dare to look forward to the promise of the future. As many times as we’ve heard similar messages, we realize we can sometimes miss by obliviously moving through, thinking everything’s fine, we’ve got it covered, we’ve got plenty of time to get all that we need to do.

But Jesus reminds us that we simply don’t know how much time we have.  And the preparations we need to undertake really vary from person to person - because it’s not holiday preparations like gift buying, sending cards or even cooking a Turkey.   Things like Love and Compassion... Forgiveness and Healing given to and received from those around us... yeah that’s hard, difficult work, without real time-tables attached to each of those things. Jesus tells us to watch and not be found asleep. It's easy to fall asleep when surrounded by blessings, like a turkey dinner. Life can get so comfortable that we can nod off. But in doing so, we are missing the brunt of what is needed; we need to be aware and ready.

But here’s the thing, Advent isn’t meant to add stress to our already stress filled lives. We’re not to anxiously run through all those things in a mad dash to check them off our list, but rather to reflect, and confront with the preciousness and fragileness of our lives what choices, what values, what beliefs are important enough to LIVE for.  Because in the end, life is a constant Advent experience:
the world is not as just,
not as loving,
not as whole as we know it can and should be;

we are constantly waiting to become,
to discover,
to understand,
to change,
to complete,
to fulfill.

Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfillment are all part of life's Advent. The coming of Christ and his presence among us -- as one of us now -- gives us reason to live in hope:
that light will shatter the darkness,
that we can be liberated from our fears and prejudices,
that we are never alone or abandoned by our merciful Father in heaven.

He walks with us through the advent opportunities He gives to prepare ourselves for His return. What a great day of celebration and feasting that will be!

No comments: