The New Gasparian
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A journal dedicated to the life and mission of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, and to a life lived in response to the call and the cry of the Most Precious Blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our on-going mission is to share good news of hope and communion.

Saturday, December 06, 2003
Homily for Second Sunday of Advent
by Steve dos Santos, CPPS

A couple of weeks ago I just couldn’t take it any more. The mess on my desk had simply gotten out of control. The piles were getting out of hand, and I had finals to get ready for. It was time for a change. So I set out to clear away all the clutter that was getting in my way. It took me a while, working slowly but surely. The books I didn’t need anymore were returned to their shelves, or to the library. The papers were sorted through and either put away, or thrown out if I didn’t need them anymore. The things I still needed to work on were organized, and put in neat little piles. Before long, I had managed to get rid of the clutter. It was wonderful. I was quite proud of myself: I had cleared a space so I could get on with my work.

Now I must admit that if you were to look at my desk today, there is little evidence that I had ever cleaned it. The clutter just has a way of coming back.

With so much clutter around, it is hard to stay focused on what I am doing. I know that when I’m sitting at my cluttered desk I am easily distracted. I am suddenly reminded that I need to send my friend Nina a letter, or call my friend Jim whom I haven’t talked to in a while, or pay the bills, or fill out that form and mail it in. Whatever it is, the clutter always manages to distract me from the task at hand. Sometimes it seems that there is so much clutter to tend to that there isn’t enough time for actually living.

Advent is often filled with all sorts of clutter. There are presents to be bought, cards to be sent, and those presents aren’t going to wrap themselves. There are cookies to be baked, Tamales to be made, and all sorts of other special food to be cooked. There are friends and family to visit, and 1001 details, that absolutely must be done, “or it just isn’t Christmas.” Advent can be a time of so many endless chores that we have to get done in order to “get ready for Christmas,” that we aren’t able to actually prepare for Christmas.

And what does it mean to prepare for Christmas? John, the Baptist, calls us to “Prepare the way of the Lord.” We hear John’s call to repentance and focus on the need to turn from our old sinful ways, avoiding the distractions caused by all the clutter and enter into a new life. A new way of life that is worthy of the new life that is the gift of the coming Christ child. We often think of Advent as a mini-Lent; and while conversion of heart, and removing the clutter that gets in the way of living the Christian life is a part of the Advent journey, it is only part of the call of Advent.

There is another side to the advent call. John is not alone in calling us to Advent. Baruch, like Jeremiah before him, and Isaiah before him also stands in the desert and calls out to us. But he tells us not of the need to repent, but of a divine promise: that it is God who will clear away the clutter that keeps us far off. That it is God who will lead us on the road back home to Jerusalem.
It seems that Baruch and John are calling us to different things. Whose job is it to make a way in the wilderness, and level the road, clearing away the clutter that keeps us from the life God want for us. Is it our job or God’s? Do we have to do the work? Or will God bring us home safely?

It’s a little bit of both. We have to do more than just sit around and wait for God to remove the clutter from our hearts. Lord knows my desk isn’t going to clean itself. But, unlike my desk, it isn’t through our own power that we are able to clear away the clutter of our heart. It is because of grace already bestowed that we can even begin to prepare a way and remove the clutter. And we know that God, “the one who began the good work in [us] will continue to complete it.”

God calls us to remove the clutter from our lives as we prepare for the coming of the Christ-child. But what is the clutter that needs to be removed?

As individuals maybe we need to clear away the clutter of resentment or constantly finding fault in our friends, or our spouse, or our children, or our brother or sister. Maybe we gossip, or tell lies, or are disobedient. It could be that we need to learn how to handle our anger, or to stop bullying others. Whatever it is, we are called to clear away this clutter that distracts us from living the life that the Christ child came to bring us.

And not all of the clutter that we need to remove is personal, some of it is societal. The lack of enough affordable housing, or schools that aren’t educating our children. People in power who don’t seem to listen, and a majority of voters don’t care enough to vote. We live in the shadow of discrimination and of violence, of drugs and of gangs. This is just some of the clutter that stands in the way of our community and keeps us from being the community God intends us to be.

All of these things in ourselves and in society are the clutter that need to be cleared away to make room for the coming Christ-child. Not all clutter is the same. Some clutter can be easily removed, and other clutter takes longer. Sometimes getting rid of today’s clutter simply makes room for new clutter to find its way into our lives. It’s an ongoing battle. We aren’t going to be able to remove all the clutter today, or even this Advent. This isn’t the first Advent we’ve tied to clear away some of this clutter, and it probably won’t be the last. Clutter does have a way of coming back. But that’s all right, because we still have Baruch and St. Paul who remind us that God will see us through till the end. And that God will lead us into that Promised Land.

We hear John’s call to repentance and so we commit ourselves anew to clearing away the clutter of our lives. We rest in the promise that God will complete the work he has begun in us. We rest certain that the grace of this Eucharist, and that the grace of this holy season will help us to clear away the clutter of our hearts and make a space anew for the coming Christ child.

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 11:16 PM link
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First Saturday of Advent
Readings: Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26; Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5A, 6-8

Isaiah portrays the Holy One of Israel as a teacher. The Holy One is a perfect teacher who is attentive, encourages, guides, responds to needs and corrects with the firmness and gentleness of steadfast love. Matthew describes Jesus as such a teacher. Jesus, a perfect teacher, is attentive to the people, responds to each person’s needs and knows that every person is as precious as His own Blood.

We are all teachers. We teach and influence others by the example of our lives as women and men of the Precious Blood. Jesus invites us today to be holy ones, perfect teachers, teachers after His own heart. We are encouraged to follow His example of attentiveness, of responding to needs, of guiding and of correcting with the firmness and gentleness of steadfast love. Furthermore, Jesus instructs us to pray that the harvest master sends other holy ones to be perfect teachers with us so that God’s kingdom of love will flourish.

Jesus understands what a great challenge this is. Therefore, He not only exemplifies the behaviors of the perfect teacher and invites us to follow His example, but also gives us the authority, the grace, the empowerment, to be perfect teachers.

As we proclaim God’s kingdom of love today, let us open ourselves to Jesus and reflect on our own behaviors. Am I willing to open my heart to each person’s preciousness? Am I more ready to criticize or blame than to encourage and affirm? If I need to correct, do I do so gently with love? How am I responding to Jesus’ admonition to proclaim the kingdom?

Reflection by: Sister Catherine Wagner, C.PP.S. (O’Fallon C.PP.S.)

posted by Fr. Jeffrey Keyes, C.PP.S. on 12:22 PM link
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