Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday word, 10 Dec 2006

2d Advent SundayC (10 Dec 2006) Bar 5. 1-9; Ps 126; Phil 1. 4-6,8-11; Lk 3. 1-6
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Surrender to Our Light

Various stressors at this time of the year leave us feeling scattered, even lost. We cannot change the circumstances in which we find ourselves--from crowded markets, plodding traffic not to mention interior sluggishness, confusion and discouragement. We can clutch those enemies of our human nature, or we can surrender them and other desolate quagmires. Take it from one who is good at refusing to surrender those things.

When hampered by interior dark forces, I first react by denying their dark, depressive effects on me. They can’t best me! Then the cycle begins: I marshall forces to obliterate them, but I’m usually no match for them, and then my denial goes into overdrive. Sound familiar?

With rest and emotional support, I come around--usually later than sooner--and realize that my tactics hold out little promise. The only thing left to do is to surrender myself to the embrace of Jesus, his mother and the saints--even one of the heavenly court will do.

To surrender my interior self to God liberates me even though my situation does not change: crowds press around me; in traffic I don’t move half a car-length; my desires don’t fully mesh with the divine desires for me.

While the effects of inconvenience as well as the more piercing effects of our unredeemed humanity will remain with us until Jesus returns to usher his Father’s reign unhindered, Jesus abides with us even now. Yes, Jesus is present “already” as well “not yet.” His presence “already” is our hope. His presence yet to come is cause to reinvigorate our lives so we can “judge wisely the things of earth”* and act with compassion as we long for Jesus’ glorious return.

Hope and wise judgment are vital when interior sluggishness, confusion and discouragement threaten to overwhelm us and make us exiles in our own worlds. Exiles are unable to lead themselves. “In exile” is an image which meshes well with our scattered, lost and desolate feelings.

The prophet Baruch encouraged exiles. Today’s selection from Baruch isn’t one we hear often. The lectionary provides it for this Sunday every third year and never for a weekday. Its convic-tion is current: even though Israel was led away into exile long ago, God will bring them back...for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company. Indeed, God will lead us until the day of Christ Jesus and his glorious return.

This is our confidence. It was John the Baptizer’s message. It’s why we repent, that is, conform our lives to the life and reconciling work of Christ Jesus. While interior dark forces seek to cloud our vision and frustrate our efforts to cooperate with the grace of Messiah Jesus, Advent reminds us that the Sun of Justice, our Light, leads us and invites us to reach out to others to allow him to lead us by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.

In your 10 minutes of praying this week, cast all your cares and all that darkens and frustrates and fragments your true self onto our Messiah Jesus. Marvel at his desire to liberate you from darkness and lead you into his light and life. In his light name those dark forces one by one as you hand them over to Jesus. Speak to him in your own words about your t desires. Beg Jesus to renew you and strengthen your confidence to make you pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God Resolve how you can dispose yourself better to prepare the way of the Lord in your life and to help others to see God more clearly by your choices and actions. Close your prayer by slowly and gently saying the Lord’s Prayer. Your 10 minutes will loosen the hold of the forces of darkness on you and will make you a better partner of Jesus and his gospel of light.

* From today’s Prayer after Communion.

Photo by tbee

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