Deacon Cornell's Homily


Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7
1 Cor 1:3-9
Mk 13:33-37


November 26-27, 2011 First Sunday of Advent, Cycle B

Advent is a uniquely Christian season. It is a time of waiting; and waiting is something our culture has no tolerance for. We are driven to eliminate any need to wait. We have instant coffee, fast food restaurants, instant winner lottery tickets, high speed internet connections, and on and on. And if we cannot eliminate a waiting, we need distractions: music, cell phones to check on our social status or text our friends, smart phone apps that let us watch movies, play angry birds, or better yet buy things. Anything is better than just waiting.

The message our culture sends about waiting is that it is a waste of time. Of course there are times when waiting can be just a waste of time: waiting to say I am sorry when I have done something to hurt someone; waiting to start that diet and exercise regimen that I know would be healthier. But for the most part, waiting can be a time of preparation, a time of anticipation or longing, a time for reflection. Of course how we wait often depends on why we are waiting.

For example, imagine a couple waiting for their baby to be born. Waiting for a baby to be born is about as far from a waste of time as you can get. The waiting allows the baby to grow so that he or she will thrive out of the womb. Mother and father are preparing the home for the baby, eating the right foods so that the baby will be healthy, and the anticipation or longing intensifies their love for the new born, allowing them to endure all kinds of physical and emotional hardship with hardly a second thought.

Or think about a farmer waiting for the harvest to come in. He cannot just sit around and wait or the harvest will not happen. The farmer doesn't make the seed germinate or the plant to grow, or the fruit to develop but if he doesn't till the soil and remove the weeds, and prevent the insects and animals from destroying the plant, the harvest will not happen.

So what are we waiting for as we celebrate Advent? We are not waiting Jesus to be born. That happened 2,000 years ago. Deacon Bob spoke last week about the reality of our salvation being "already, not yet". Jesus' birth, the first Christmas, is the already part. We are waiting for the not yet part. The not yet part is what some would call the second coming of Christ, the coming of the Kingdom of God; others would call it the end of the world. I like to think of it in more concrete images. The not yet is the end of suffering, the end of war, the end of hunger and sickness and homelessness, the end of oppression and lies, yes even the end of having to rake leaves or shovel snow or homework.

And like expectant parents or a farmer, we do not have the power to make this happen; only God can make the baby in the womb grow or the plants to bring forth fruit. Only God can bring an end to suffering, war, hunger, sickness, homelessness, oppression and lies. But like expectant parents or farmers that doesn't mean we are to stand around doing nothing. God has given us a critical role in bring the not yet to completion. We have been anointed to be the instruments of God's power to make God's kingdom real.

Our Advent waiting reminds us that we are dependent on God for everything, our very existence. God is the potter; we are the clay. Our Advent waiting allows us to reflect on all that God has given us, including himself in human form 2,000 years ago. Our Advent waiting increases our longing for God's kingdom to come. And our Advent waiting can make us acutely aware that God has chosen to wait for us to bring about this kingdom. Just as we will hear on the 4th Sunday of this Advent, God chose a young girl to give Jesus his human form; God radically chose to be dependent on Mary's yes.

God has put us, his servants, in charge of this Kingdom. He has blessed us with every spiritual gift that is needed to make this Kingdom real here on earth. And now God waits. For us. By baptism, we are the doers in God's plan for salvation. Let us watch. But that doesn't mean doing nothing. It is not nice to keep God waiting!

homily index