Sunday, December 14, 2014

We await in joyful expectation

3rd Sunday of Advent year B:
So far this Advent we have looked at the themes of Joy and Devout.  This is a season of joy and devotion.  Today we celebrate the 3rd Sunday of Lent.  We light our rose colored candle and enter into the final days of Advent.  Our sense of expectation and anticipation is building.  Christmas is almost here.
Today we look at “expectation.”  Expectation signifies that something is coming.  I know there are a lot of people who are waiting with expectation for the next Hobbit movie to come out this week.  Or my brothers were all excited with expectation because last week a Star Wars trailer was released.  Maybe it’s the excitement of a new house, a new car, a new job.  That sense of expectation can be thrilling.  Advent is a season of expectation because we are expecting the celebration of Christmas.  But, the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls Advent a chance for the Church to enter into the expectation of the people of Israel as they awaited the coming of the Messiah.
Listen to the people who are interrogating St. John the Baptist in the reading.  It is clear that they are expecting something more: are you him?  They were actively looking in expectation for their savior, they were living with their eyes open, hoping to get a glimpse of him. 
What a great lesson for us!  We await the coming of our Savior.  We know that Jesus who was born for us will come again.  Are we eagerly awaiting his coming?  Do we expect his arrival?  I really like this word “expect.”  Doesn’t it sound a whole lot more definite than something like hoping, or wishing?  I’m hoping for the coming of Christ, or I’m wishing for the coming of Christ.  Rather, we expect the coming of Christ.  We KNOW it’s going to happen. 
But, what is funny about thinking about expecting the coming of Jesus is that I believe that he is coming to us even now.  If we truly await him with joyful expectation, I think we actually see the way he is visible in our lives.  It happens all the time.
I don’t need to tell you that it has been a tough couple of weeks here at St. Jude.  We have had 7 funerals in 16 days.  Many of these situations have been tough.  It is easy to get distracted.  But, I have seen Christ present in so many ways.  I will tell you that Fr. Paul’s passing was a real shock to me and to so many other people.  But, I have to say that his funeral mass was a really prayerful experience for me.  There were many priests in attendance, many people from our parish and from all over, the bishop was there.  Fr. Tom Shoemaker gave a splendid homily about Fr. Paul and about his life and ministry.  It was a profound a moving experience.  True, it was sad.  But, Christ was there.  I celebrated 2 funerals for members of my family.  I was intimidated to look out and see my aunts and uncles.  But, these were prayerful and powerful experiences.  Again, they were sad, but I knew Christ was there.
I guess my point is this.  If we are a people who live in the expectation that Christ will come again, we become the kind of people who see him in our daily lives.  I know that Christ is not some distant reality.  He is a part of our lives.  He is the center of this parish.  I see him in you, I see him in the sacraments, I see him here at St. Jude.  If we have the eyes to see, we will see that Christ is very much a part of our lives.

As we celebrate this third Sunday of Advent, as we light our pink candles and realize that Christmas is right around the corner, I think it is a great time to remember that Christ is around every corner.  Christ is here with us.  We celebrate this Holy Eucharist full of expectation.  We know that Christ will come again, but we also know that Christ comes to us through the power of this Blessed Sacrament.

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