Fr. Tony’s 8-Minute Homily
Los Angeles Times article, “For the original cast of ‘Roots,’ it was a mind-blowing series” interviews from left: John Amos, Lynne Moody, Ben Vereen, Leslie Uggams, Georg Stanford Brown, Louis Gossett Jr. and Sandy Duncan in 2016. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times)
Homecoming is the central theme of the Scripture readings for the Second Sunday of Advent. All three readings focus on the absolute necessity of our getting ready for Christ’s “Homecoming” into our hearts and lives by true repentance, reparation, prayer and the renewal of our lives. They also remind us that the past coming of Jesus 2000 years ago, the present daily coming of Jesus into our lives through the Eucharistic celebration, through the Scriptures and through the praying community, and his future coming (the Second Coming) are actually the fulfillment of God’s saving plan for us all, from all eternity.
Select one or two of the following illustrations to insert here. View more by clicking on the “ILLUSTRATIONS” tab above. Feel free to insert more throughout the homily if so desired (but this should not be overdone).
Scripture Lessons Summarized
Fr. Tony’s unabridged edition for this section can be found by clicking on the “COMMENTARY” tab above. Feel free to include more detail if so desired.
The first reading, taken from the prophet Isaiah, tells us about the Babylonian exiles coming home to their native country, Judah, and their holy city, Jerusalem. Isaiah assures his people that the Lord will lead them in a grand procession to their homeland and take care of them as a shepherd cares for his sheep.
The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 85) describes how shalom or perfect peace is coming home with the Lord’s coming. The second reading, taken from the second letter of St. Peter, invites us to get ready to go home to Heaven with Jesus at his Second Coming. Peter tells those who doubt the Second Coming of Jesus that God’s way of counting time is different from ours and that God has His own reasons for delaying the Second Coming of Christ.
The Gospel tells us through John the Baptist how we should prepare to receive Jesus our Savior’s “coming home” into our lives during the Advent season by repentance and the renewal of life. John preached that the appropriate behavior for those preparing “the way of the Lord” was to be baptized “as they confessed their sins.” He wanted the Jews to prepare their lives for the Messiah by filling in the valleys of prejudice, leveling the mountains of pride and straightening out their crooked paths of injustice and immorality. John recommended a baptism of repentance in the river Jordan to the Jews who were familiar with ritual and symbolic washings. The most amazing thing about John’s baptism was that, as a Jew, he was asking fellow-Jews to submit to the baptism of repentance which only a Gentile was obliged to undergo.
Fr. Tony’s unabridged versions can be found by clicking on the “LIFE MESSAGES” tab above. Feel free to include more detail if so desired.
1) We need to prepare for the rebirth of Jesus: We are invited by the Church to prepare for Christmas by repenting of our sins and renewing our lives so that Jesus may be reborn in us. Let us ask with Alexander Pope the challenging question, “What do I profit, if Jesus is born in thousands of cribs all over the world unless he is born in my heart and in my life?”
2) We need to allow Jesus to be reborn in our lives. People around us should recognize Jesus’ rebirth in our lives by our sharing love, unconditional forgiveness, compassionate and merciful heart and spirit of humble and committed service.
3) Let us accept the challenge of John the Baptist to turn this Advent season into a real spiritual “homecoming” by making the necessary preparations for the fresh arrival of our Lord and Savior Jesus into our hearts and lives.
Fr. Tony’s Illustrations
WBIR Channel 10 (2:30) — April 24, 2018: The firefighter who found a missing 6-year-old boy in Blount County says the successful rescue is the highlight of his career.
Letting God Find Us
A school principal called the house of one of his teachers to find out why he was not at school. He was greeted by a small child who whispered: “Hello?” in his daddy’s cell phone. “Is your Daddy at home?” asked the principal.
“Yes” answered the whispering child. “May I talk to him?” the principal asked. “No,” replied the small voice. “Is your Mommy there?” the principal asked. “Yes,” came the answer. “May I talk with her?” Again, the small voice whispered, “No.”
“All right,” said the principal, “Is there anyone besides you?” “Yes,” whispered the child, “A policeman.” “A policeman? Now may I speak with the policeman?” “No, he is busy,” whispered the child. “Busy with what?” asked the principal. “Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the fireman,” came the child’s answer.
“The fireman? Has there been a fire in the house or something?” asked the principal. “No,” whispered the child. “Then what are the policeman and the fireman doing there?” Still whispering, the young voice replied with a soft giggle, “They are looking for me.”
It would be pretty hard for the ‘rescuers’ to find the child as long as the child keeps hiding from them.
In Today’s Gospel we see John the Baptist calling out to the people of Judea to come out into the open space and let God find them. You can liken John the Baptist’s call to the fireman calling to the ‘lost’ child. The child has to leave his hiding place and come out into the open for the emergency first responders to find him.
(John Pichappilly in The Table of the Word). (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
Prepare the way
Culturally, Alexander the Great had spread the Greek language over most of the civilized world three centuries earlier. It was then established as the international language by which the Gospel could be communicated. Governmentally, the Romans furnished a system of law which made it possible for the Gospel to grow in relative stability. Logistically, the system of Roman roads made travel by missionaries very possible. (Ernest White.)
Do you suppose that as Alexander was extending his empire, he had any idea that God was using him to prepare the way for the Babe of Bethlehem? Do you suppose that as the Romans built the roads that made commerce possible over all the known world, they knew that they were preparing the way for the King of Kings? When Augustus Caesar sent out his decree that all the world should be taxed and that every person should be enrolled in his own city, do you suppose that he had any idea that he was engaged in bringing to pass an ancient prophecy that the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem?
By the time John cried out in the wilderness his prophetic, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,” God had already been at work for thousands of years bringing about just the right conditions for the birth of his Son. Then, in the fullness of time, Christ was born.
Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
Missing figure in the nativity scene
A three-year-old was helping his mother unpack their nativity set. He announced each piece as he removed its tissue paper wrappings. “Here’s the donkey!” he said. “Here’s a king and a camel!” When he finally got to the tiny infant lying in a manger he proclaimed, “Here’s Baby Jesus in his car seat!” Well, it wasn’t a car seat, but that would be an easy mistake to make, wouldn’t it?
We all love nativity scenes. Baby Jesus in the manger . . . Mary and Joseph hovering reverently over the Holy Child . . . shepherds, wise men, assorted cattle, sheep and camels . . . and, of course, a donkey. But, as someone has noted, there is always one person missing from these nativity scenes.
Have you ever seen John the Baptist in any of the nativity scenes? Louder than any Santa says, ‘Ho, ho, ho,’ you would hear the automated voice of John the Baptist screaming, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is near.’ Has anyone noticed a figure like that in any of the nativity scenes that are traditional to our celebration of Christmas?” Well, no. At least, I’ve never seen a nativity scene featuring John the Baptist.
Yet, on the second Sunday of Advent, we always encounter this strange lonely figure sounding his message out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord.”
Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
To find God
“Vladimir Ghika was a Romanian prince who became a Catholic priest and died a martyr in a Communist concentration camp in 1954. His words are particularly apt today as we begin our own Odyssey in a new wilderness: “He who does not seek God everywhere runs the risk of not finding him anywhere.”
The good news of this advice, as St. Bernard and other mystics remind us, is, “No one can seek you O Lord, who has not already found you.” Or as St. Gregory of Nyssa put it: “To find God one must search for Him without end.”
Not only will we come to experience the truth of this timely paradox, but we will discover that God does indeed let Himself be sought and found in every historical era, even in those great axial ruptures in history such as ours. Our new spirituality will remind and reassure us that God is still Emmanuel, that is, still very much “with us” in the wilderness.” .
Richard Cote; quoted by Fr. Botelho (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
Fr. Tony’s Life Messages
We need to make use of Advent as a season of reflection and preparation
We are invited by the Church to prepare for Christmas. Christmas is the time for reflection and personal renewal in preparation for the coming of Jesus into our lives. Through the section of his letter which we read today, St. Peter reminds us, on the one hand, of God’s great desire to come into our lives and, on the other, of our need to be prepared for that event when it happens.
We want God’s help and comfort, but we are not always prepared to change our ways to enhance genuine conversion. For God to come to us, we also need to go to Him. We need to let every day become Christmas and the “Day of the Lord” for each one of us.
(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
We need to accept Jesus instead of ignoring him during this Christmas
It was their stubborn pride and self-centeredness, which blinded the eyes of the Jews and kept them from recognizing Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah. The same stubborn pride, the same exaggerated sense of our own dignity, blinds the intellects of many of us today who not only fail to accept Christ and his good tidings, but also prevent others from accepting him.
The mad rush for earthly possessions and pleasures, the casting-off of all the reasonable restraints and restrictions which are so necessary for the survival of human society, the rejection of all things spiritual in man’s make-up, the general incitement of the animal instincts in man – all these are signs of the rejection of Christ.
Let us accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord during this Christmas season and remain, or become, true Christians in our daily conduct. Let us use these days of preparation for Christmas to ready ourselves for Christ’s daily coming and Second Coming, remembering that the Second Coming will occur for each one of us on the day of our death, or on the Day of the Lord, whichever comes first.
(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
We need to become preachers of the Good News
John’s preaching reminds us also of our important task of announcing Christ to others through our lives at home and in the community. When we show real love, kindness, mercy and a spirit of forgiveness, we are announcing the truth that Christ is with us. Thus, our lives become a kind of Bible which others can read.
John the Baptist invites us to turn this Advent season into a real spiritual homecoming by making the necessary preparations for the arrival of the Savior and his entrance into our lives.