God or balloons – what do you see?: Homily for Sunday, December 3, 2017

Readings for Today

I recently saw a video online from one of my former students.  She has two little girls.  She and her husband were filming the girls as they ran out of the house to see what was different about a small house built in the back yard. Obviously, the parents were hoping the girls would get excited for the arrival of their elves on the shelf, which they had from last year. Now the girls were excited.  About the balloons on the top of the house.  Not about the elves, or the presents on the ledge of the small backyard house. Now I am sure they did eventually, and will continue to get excited about their elves.  But they started so distracted.  They loved the balloons, but missed the elves.

In a way, we can be like that too, especially with the season of Advent.  We can get distracted by tinsel, and glitter, and sales and gifts and presents.  We can focus too much on what we have to do, so that the season of Advent becomes simply one big long list of stressful things on a to-do list. But these things are the balloons on the house.  They are not the center piece.  They are not the priority. If we are not careful this Advent, we could miss the “reason for the season.” We could find our hearts and souls are not ready to receive Jesus this Christmas.

The first reading served as inspiration for the song, “Redeemer, Lord” written by John Foley, SJ.  I find it quite reflective and a great way to pray on this first Sunday of Advent, so I have added a YouTube clip below..

Homily for Monday, December 24, 2012

Readings for Today

Have you ever had the experience were you were convinced your life was moving in a particular direction, only to discover that you should be headed was in the opposite direction? I have. More than one time in my life the next chapter I envisioned for myself, was not exactly what occurred. Such is the case in today’s first reading. It seems logical, wise and perhaps even generous that David seeks to build the temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. And originally the prophet, Nathan, seems to extend his blessing to David’s endeavor. But they got it wrong.

Perhaps part of the challenge concerns the reality we all too often face in our own lives. It certainly can be a temptation in ministry. We think we are building for God some great house. We put our effort, our mind, and our energy, into making something where we believe God will dwell. Truth is, over and over again, we are reminded that it is not us were called to build something for God, but rather is God who constantly build something in us.

David is not much different than most powerful leaders. In his youth, and at various times during his reign, he was an agent for good, bringing unity and peace, being attentive to the presence of God in his life and the lives of the subjects. But David had his flaws. One might argue that flaws are inevitable when success comes too easily. Perhaps this was the challenge for David. He not only had sex with a woman who was not his wife, he arranged to have her husband killed in battle.

Ultimately, David’s greatness does not come from what he did, but what he recognized. While David had many successes, his ultimate salvation was the recognition but so much had depended on God. When David saw the solution on his own terms, usually resulted in suffering, not only for David, but perhaps more importantly for others.

The great lesson for us on this Eve of Christmas is to recognize that we do not build God a house. It is to recognize the task of our lives is to cooperate with God’s grace. It is not to suggest that we do not have a role in the acceptance of our vocation. Of course we do. God has created us as free human beings. But the lesson is clear. We are called to recognize that in all things God is primary. God creates us. God calls us. God gives us the grace that leads us to him.