Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Giving Clearer Evidence
Advent trains our vision on the whole mystery of our Messiah Jesus. We may think first of his incarnation, specifically his human birth as God’s son born of Mary. We might think Advent prepares for that. Yet, Jesus’ birth happened once and for all over 2000 years ago. Like our births, his will never be repeated. We celebrate our birthdays, our anniversaries of birth. Christmas, our celebration of Jesus’ birthday, reminds us our God joined us in our humanity.
You and I prepare for Jesus’ return in glory, his second advent. Not only did Jesus join us in our humanity, Jesus is our Messiah because he rose from the dead to give us a share in his risen life. Messiah Jesus invites us to live already his risen life, even though partially, as we await his return. The liturgical season of Advent focuses us to prepare daily to live more clearly united with Jesus, one with him and his community of faith. Advent invites: trust Messiah Jesus.
Prophet Isaiah encouraged people to place confidence and trust in the kings of David’s line. Prophet Isaiah’s words described a heroic, charismatic--that is, God’s anointed--leader to shepherd and guide God’s people selflessly. The charisms cascaded from David’s successor:
The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him:When early Christians reread Prophet Isaiah’s words describing God’s anointed--Messiah in Hebrew and Christ in Greek--they recognized Jesus as Messiah: human-born of David’s line, our link to the divine by virtue of his resurrection.
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord,
and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide, but
he shall judge the poor with [the Lord’s] justice.
Matthew reminded us Jesus’ invitation to be his disciples isn’t fluff but challenging. Jesus’ Holy Spirit strengthens us to live up to Jesus’ challenging invitation and to give clear evidence by how we live that we unite ourselves with Jesus.
St. Paul showed us how to live our mystery of faith, which we proclaim, Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again, with his words: Welcome one another...as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Welcome isn’t only receiving someone. Welcome regards another without suspicion. Welcome treats another with compassionate concern. Welcome seeks another’s good. Christian welcome always glorifies God. God’s truthfulness is God’s mercy, God’s loving kindness. Our words mercy and loving kindness don’t do justice to God. We may say that God in Jesus by their Spirit cannot be anything other than truthful, merciful and welcoming us in lovingly kind ways. As envoys of Messiah Jesus we welcome others as Messiah Jesus always and everywhere welcomes us.
The Incarnation unites us to Messiah Jesus, our link between divinity and humanity. Advent invites us to cooperate with Jesus’ Spirit and allows us to be refashioned more and more in the image of our Messiah, who ceaselessly welcomes us patiently, tenderly and lovingly.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, begin by pausing to feel more deeply the Trinity creating you and welcoming you with love. Ask Isaiah, St. John the Baptist and St. Paul to usher you to Jesus so that you may converse with him. Praise Jesus for his patient love of you, then ask Jesus to help you know more intimately the gift of Jesus’ spirit you received at your Confirmation: “the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in [God’s] presence.”/1/ Be alert to how your life aligns with Jesus confirming you as his disciple. Close by slowly saying the Lord’s Prayer, which shapes us to live daily what we both ask and expect of Jesus’ Father: may your kingdom come. Advent invites us to give clearer evidence by how we live that we are disciples of Jesus.
/1/ Included in the prayer of the celebrant as he extends his hands over those to be confirmed. In the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, 325.
Wiki-image of Isaiah is in the public domain. Wiki-photo of Advent wreath by Clemens PFEIFFER, Vienna, is used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license.