Advent-ually Week 2: Longing for Hope
Last week we spoke about how we are longing for Love. We looked at how Jesus sees us, loves us, and invites us to spend time with him. Just like those he encountered in the bible, we do not have to be perfect to be loved by Jesus. We cannot earn Jesus’ love, as it is freely given. He meets us as we are. He sees our strengths, weaknesses, what makes us laugh, and what hurts us. He knows all of our desires, dreams, hopes, and disappointments. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, looks at each of you and loves you.
You know, it’s not just love for which we long. We also long for hope.
Two Martians landed on a country road on earth in the middle of a cold, dark night. “Where are we?” asked the one. “I think we’re in a cemetery,” said the other. “There’s a marker over here. It says…this man lived to be 108!” “Wow! What was his name?” The other Martian leaned closer and squinted. His name was “Miles — from — Omaha.”
At times we all feel like those Martians, far away from home, in a cold, dark place, with no familiar landmarks. Sometimes the dark, unfamiliar place is the inside of our head. And we have the terrible experience of feeling cut off from others, or our own self, a stranger to our self. It’s a very lonely feeling. When we feel that way, we lose hope and maybe begin to despair.
Sometimes the cold, dark place is all around us as we find ourselves on the outside of love and friendship, wanting to get in but not knowing how. It’s a sad and lonely place to be.
Our hearts know how life is supposed to be. There is something inside us, something God put there, that tells us that cold and darkness and being an outsider are not what we were made for.
Hey folks, It is time to come in from the cold and the dark. It’s time to come in from the cold and dark, and come into the light of love and hope.
We find love and hope in our relationships with God and each other, especially the relationship we call family. There is something powerful inside us that tells us we are made to be family, the whole lot of us.
Family, where everybody knows our name, where there are no strangers, where every face brightens when they hear the familiar sound of our step, and where we can feel the presence of our Father.
Family. It’s what we long for and what we’re made for. So why do we get so little of it? Why do we spend so much of our life as outsiders, cut off, in exile, in the cold and the dark?
The answer is in today’s biblical readings: within us and between us there are places that are wounded and broken. There are gaping holes and lofty barriers in us and between us, and they keep us in exile, keep us from finding our way home, home to each other and to the Lord.
Sometimes those gaping holes and lofty barriers have to do with our inability to forgive someone or our inability to accept forgiveness.
Lack of forgiveness is the poison we drink hoping someone else will die. Ask Jesus to give you the strength to forgive and to accept forgiveness. When we do not forgive, we remain angry. It is a known fact that repressed anger leads to depression which is a lack of hope. We want to be people of hope. Yes?
Not all of us struggle with a lack of forgiveness, although many do. Some of us struggle with a need to repent and be reconciled. Now, before you turn me off, let me explain what we mean by repent and reconciliation.
Repent means to have a change in thinking which leads to change of heart, which leads to change in behavior. That is easy to say, but not always easy to do. Repentance is a change in your thinking which leads to change of your heart, which leads to change in your behavior.
Reconciliation is simply being reunited with the ones we love. Reconciliation is a homecoming in the best sense of the word, being reunited with the ones we love. Don’t we all want that?
Today’s readings tell us how to repent, gain hope, and reconciliation. We are to name those sorry, wounded places within us and between us, and don’t hold onto them.
Name them and give them to the Lord, for he has commanded “that every lofty mountain be made low, that the age-old depths and gorges be filled in, that the crooked places in us be made straight and the rough places in us be made smooth,” that we may see the salvation of God, that we may, at last, find our way home. It is time to come in from the cold and the dark. Do you feel wounded or broken in any way? This Advent, we simply must give all those sorry, wounded places to God, all the dark and empty places, all the pain.
About Advent, a famous monk, Thomas Merton, said: Advent is the beginning of the end of all that is in us that is not yet Christ. The idea is, as Advent goes by, and we prepare for Christmas, we want to become more like Jesus. Advent is the beginning of the end of all that is in you that is not yet Christ.
Those wounded, dark empty places within us are not yet Christ. Give them to him, let him transform you.
Those are all the things we want you to know today. This is what we would like for you to do. The homily series is called “Advent-ually.” Advent-ually we want to be coming into reconciliation with Jesus… our hope. December 13 at 6:30pm we are providing a perfect opportunity to practice all the things we spoke of today.
December 13 we have five additional priests coming to our parish to help you with the sacrament of reconciliation. That is not this Monday, but next Monday.
Has it been a while since you have been to confession? Seek reconciliation with Jesus and others in your life.
Are you longing for love and hope? Come in from the cold and the dark. Experience the love and hope of Jesus December 13 at 6:30. This Advent, give Jesus all your difficulties. If you do, he will change your life for the better, and he will bring you home. Come December 13, and give him your pain. Come in from the cold and the dark. Jesus will reconcile you and bring you home.