One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

December 10, 2006

For the Second Sunday of Advent

Luke 3:1-6
Baruch 5:1-9
Philippians 1:4-6,8-11

In fifteen days we will observe the fulfillment of more than two thousand years of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To commemorate his human birth is one way that we keep in mind his presence in our lives.
We are also waiting for his return in glory as king and judge to usher in the new heavens and the new earth.
Today the Lord’s Gospel teaches us how to live in the Lord’s presence NOW— as well as how to be ready for his final return at any moment.
Our preparation is always the same— whether for his first coming in the flesh centuries ago, or for his spiritual presence and power now, or for his return at the end of time.
John the Baptist proclaims “a baptism of REPENTANCE for the forgiveness of sins.”
Prepare the way of the Lord.
All flesh shall see the salvation of God.

The way we use the word “repentance” in English does not completely match the meaning of the Gospel’s original Greek word.
The original Greek word of the Gospel is metánoia, whose literal meaning is “change of mind.”
The Gospel today tells us that change of mind is our role in receiving the forgiveness of sin.
A change of mind prepares the way of the Lord in our lives.
A change of mind makes us ready for salvation.
It makes us ready to see God.
A change of mind is no small thing.
This is how the Gospel today describes the landscape of a changed mind.
Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth.

Get the explosives, and flatten the mountains.
Get the bulldozers, and fill in the valleys.
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
All flesh shall see the salvation of God.

To change our minds about sin, to be ready for God, to cooperate with him in our own lives is work that sometimes needs to be violent.
Today in his letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul puts it this way.
that your love may increase…
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value
so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,
filled with the fruit of righteousness

“That your love may increase in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value.”
“To discern what is of value”— there is the repentance or CHANGE OF MIND: “to discern what is of value.”
If we count the Lord himself to be our most valuable treasure, and if we are willing to use explosives and earthmoving equipment on ourselves in order to be ready and available for him, then we can trust that he has already arrived in our lives.
The paradox is that God counts us as valuable treasure.
He came looking for us in person— in flesh and blood— more than two thousand years ago.
By the violence of a cross and nails, the Lord beat a path across his own body in order to be with us even unto death, that we might be with him even unto eternal resurrection.
Today we heard the prophet Baruch gush on about God’s plan for us.
Take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever:
wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,
bear on your head … the glory of the eternal name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor.
For God has commanded
that every lofty mountain be made low,
and that the age-old depths and gorges
be filled to level ground,
that his people may advance secure in the glory of God.

The last words of the Gospel today underline this ancient prophecy: “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
In the flesh and blood of Christ, in the Eucharist, the Scriptures are fulfilled.
God is on the way right now.
Are we?

That God Be Glorified in All


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