Homily for 2nd Sunday in Advent, Cycle A

posted Dec 9, 2016, 11:38 AM by Church Office   [ updated Dec 9, 2016, 11:38 AM by Michelle Massung ]


            Why is everyone flocking to the desert to hear a guy dressed in camel hair clothes and who eats grasshoppers, locusts, and honey? The desert was a very dangerous place to go.  There were many wild and deadly animals.  The weather was harsh and it was a tough place to get to.  They also believed that demons that had been expelled lived there.  So as you can see, it was not easy for the people to go to the desert and that is part of the reason John the Baptist chose to preach in the desert. He wanted to see how badly the people wanted to hear his message.  Most prophets preached in the Temple area. Since his birth, when Zachariah was able to talk again, the people knew that John was a child blessed by God.  Some thought he was the Messiah and he quickly denies those claims.  Also, back in the time of John the Baptist, people were very group oriented compared to the individual oriented society we live in today.  It was the role and responsibility of every member of the group to ensure the survival of the group.  To commit a sin was to betray the group or go against the best interests of the group from an individual basis. Also, the group or family had an identity or reputation.  For example, the Cretans were considered liars, lazy, and brutes.  Nazoreans, the family which Christ belonged to, were known as craftsmen.  Joseph and Jesus were both carpenters.

            So when John the Baptist calls them to repent, he wants individuals to give up their individualism and forgive the property debts of the others for the sake of the group.  You really didn’t need a conscience back then; the people were constantly telling you who you owed or who owed you something.  So when John the Baptist told the people to repent, he was telling them to stop thinking about themselves and think of the group interests.  If someone owed you money, you could work with them to help repay the money and still maintain their family honor. 

            So why repent? To bring peace and harmony to the group.  Yet St. Paul tells us that even our groups must get along because Jesus came to save all mankind, not just the Jews.  He explains that the Gentiles and the Jews are both going to be saved by Jesus if we love and accept each other as Jesus did. 

            So what are we called to do?  If we were to make a similar comparison between Jews and Gentiles, we would all board airplanes and fly to the Middle East and try to make peace with the Muslims.  I really don’t think this is a good idea and as we have seen in this war in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is incredibly dangerous.  Ok then, what can we realistically do.  Let’s start small and make peace in our own families.  If you are like me, there are certain pockets of conflict that need to be resolved. For example, I need to repair my relationship with my brother Jim and his girlfriend Patti; and also with my sister-in-law Melene.  I need to ask for their forgiveness for some problems I have caused in the past.  It is in the humility of asking for forgiveness and repenting that we answer the call of John the Baptist in our own lives here in Philipsburg. This parish family is not in the desert, but it is being called to repent.  By repenting and asking for forgiveness, you are bringing the peace of Christ to others even before he arrives on Christmas.  What a tremendous way of preparing for the arrival of the Prince of Peace than to be your own family peace maker? Regardless of what other presents you give to others this Christmas, I can almost guarantee, none will be more appreciated than this one.  How can prepare for the coming of the Lord? By making his place of arrival, the hearts of your loved ones, a peaceful landing area.