Once upon a time, this very strong young man at the construction site brags that he can out do anyone in a feat of strength. He even makes fun of one of the older workmen. After several minutes, the older worker has enough. “Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is,” he says. “I will bet a week’s wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won’t be able to wheel back.” “You’re on,” the braggart replies. “Let’s see what you got.” The old man reaches out and grabs the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the young man, he says, “All right, Get in.”
In the words of the late Benedictine Sister, Verna Holyhead, “Advent is the season of Christian road works…” Now is the acceptable time to lower the hills and mountains, to make straight the winding roads, and, to smooth out the rough ways of our lives. Since lowering, making straight and smoothing out takes a lot of work, you and I always need help in identifying the problems. So, we please allow Sister Verna to assist us through a series of Advent questions.
Can we identify the “potholes in our discipleship?” Sister Verna names them as “sins of omission.” In other words, those Christian deeds that I fail to perform, e.g., failing to pray daily, failing to speak the truth, failing at stopping gossip, failing to read the scriptures, failing to be joyful, failing to work for peace…the list of potholes is endless.
Again, Sister Verna asks, do we possess the courage to stop the “road rage towards our brothers and sisters?” This question is so important in a country filled with the highest handgun murders in the world, and that now witnesses its own citizens killing each other daily. If I as a Christian am unwilling to stop my free floating anger and anxiety towards you then who will stop? The responsorial psalm today sings of the Lord doing great things for us- we are filled with joy. Does the world see this joy of ours’?
Lastly, Sister Verna asks us in Advent, how well do we handle the twists and turns of personal tragedy or let downs by the Church? All sorts of things happen to us: the death of a spouse or a family member, the loss of my health, my freedom and my old home. People disappoint me day after day. Even the Church even disappoints me. Will I allow the let downs of my Christian life determine the outcome of my biography?
Advent is a season to join St. John the Baptist and recognize the Advent of Christ. How? First, take off the robe of mourning and misery. Next put on the splendor of glory from God. That is when we find the potholes, when we work on the road rage, and when we begin to smooth the rough surfaces, we are to see Christ in everything. Christians believe in redemption. For every negative event in my life there is an equal amount of redemption, if I want it.
As we come forward for Holy Communion, may we advance secure in the glory of God on this second Sunday of Advent!
The Rev. Fr. Dr. T. Becket A. Franks, O.S.B.
The Second Sunday of Advent Cycle C