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Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Homily – The Gospel According to Luke – 2018.12.02

A Homily – Luke 21:25-28,34-36 ©

The Gospel According to Luke – 2018.12.02
Gospel Acclamation – Psalm 84:8
Second Reading - 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 ©
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 24(25):4-5,8-9,10,14 ©
First Reading - Jeremiah 33:14-16 ©

A Prophetic Tradition, and the Problem it Presents

The Christian Church is steeped in the prophetic tradition of the Hebrew people.

Jesus was a prophet. He was not a fortune teller, or a seer, he was a vocal critic of the power structure that governed the people in his day. He was a witness to suffering and injustice, in response to both of those he called for love and mercy.

Remember this and remember it well; God, the creator of the universe, God does not intervene in the affairs of human beings. God does not establish royal houses, or tear them down. God does not do those things, because God has made us free.

God has made humanity, and each human being individually, and the entire created order in freedom. Having made us this way, God does not interfere in the course of human events.

God’s only intention is to teach us the way of justice, and lead us to it through love and mercy.

God does not choose between contending tribes or nations, winners and losers. God has no favorites, God has no enemies.

God will not reach into our world to save us from disaster.

But, if you follow the way, you will learn the means to be at peace, even in the midst of calamity, you will learn to be generous in times of abundance and scarcity both.

Listen to the psalmist; lift up your soul, lift your spirit, give your life to God, creator of the universe, to God who gave it all to you.

Lift up your spirit and ask for mercy, lift up your soul and forgive…not merely those who have done you wrong, but also God, who made you as a creature who can experience pain, who delivered you into existence in an unjust world.

Do not expect God to take sides with you in any conflict; that is vanity.

God loves all of God’s children fully and equally. God does not discriminate between one child and another.

God does not have favorites.

If you ask God to punish the faithless, the promise breakers, you must know that you are asking God to punish you yourself.

We are all faithless.

When you pray, pray for wisdom and guidance, pray for those in the knowledge that God desires that you be well.

Know this, always bear it in mind, if you pray for God to do anything for you are praying in vain. God has made you and all of creation free, God will not intervene in your life, either to your benefit or your detriment, to reward you or to punish you.

God is merciful, God allowed for your existence even knowing of all your crimes; since the beginning of time God knew them, God has not forgotten them, and God loves you anyway.

Remember this when you pray, all the ways of God are kindness and mercy.

Follow the example of God, as we see it reflected in the person of Jesus.

Love one another and the whole human race; love as God desires it; love one another even as God loves you.
God’s purpose in creating us with hearts and minds, with the knowledge of right and wrong, in creating us with a conscience, in creating us in the divine image; God’s purpose in this design is so that we may love.

God’s will is that we reflect the divine.

To be a follower of Christ, to be a Christian; is not about what you believe, it is not about what images or ideas you have in your mind about who or what God is, or is not. To be a follower of Christ, to be a Christian has nothing to do with the structure of sacred rituals you adhere to, or what songs you sing.

It has everything do to with what kind of life you lead.

It is the desire of God that we lead a moral life, a just life, a life characterized by good works, by charity and compassion; God desire that we live a life of love in service to our sisters and brothers.

We find our well-being in this, and that is what it means to be saved.

Remember this on the first Sunday of Advent, and carry it with you throughout the year. God is the creator of the entire universe, all lands belong to God; all seas, all planets, all stars, all galaxies; everything and everyone living therein.

God did not end the captivity of Jacob, the Hebrews did, with Moses and Joshua leading them.

This is not hubris.

It is greater hubris to think that God loves a special people, a people chosen above all others, than to think that the Israelites escaped bondage under their own power.

Reflect on this. Think deeply on it as we consider the Gospel reading for the day, and the trouble with prophecy.

The authors of Luke report to us that they have given us the words of Jesus.

The authors of Luke never met him, and in presenting this myth they place lies in the mouth of their friend and their teacher.

Jesus never spoke about the end of the world. We know this because Jesus spoke the truth, and he did not know anything about the end of the world, he was concerned overwhelmingly with the injustice and suffering he was witness to in his own time.

He did not seek to motivate with fear, Jesus was a beacon of love.

When the sun spends the last of its nuclear fuel; that will be a sign of the end of the world (billions of years from now).

If the moon were to slip in its orbit, that would be a sign of the end of the end of the world (but only the world as we know it).

The stars are in fact so distant from us, that what happens with them can have little to do with what happens here, and long before our sun burns itself out, our galaxy will collide with another, that collision will radically change life on this planet (billions of years from now), when human beings won’t even be recognizable as human beings anymore.

God, the creator of the universe, made us and our world, the entire universe free. God does not interfere, or intervene in our lives and our choices. Because we know this true, the only futures we can predict are those that flow naturally from their antecedents that are present in reality, right now.

We can predict climate change; because it is happening, and the antecedents for it were laid down decades ago we cannot stop it.

We can predict the continuation of wars, of terrorism, of economic injustice, because they are present realities and matters of statistical certitude.

We can predict the continuation of social injustice, not because God has decreed that these things will come to pass, but because we have not made the determination to change them ourselves.

The only liberation we will have from the vicissitudes of this life, will come at the end of life.

God will not stretch out God’s hand to save us from any danger.

Pay no attention to those who use fear to shape your faith. They are liars.

God wills that you live a life without fear and the things that flow from fear; hate, anger, greed, and violence.

First Reading - Jeremiah 33:14-16 ©

I Will Make a Virtuous Branch Grow for David

See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when I am going to fulfil the promise I made to the House of Israel and the House of Judah:

‘In those days and at that time,
I will make a virtuous Branch grow for David,
who shall practise honesty and integrity in the land.
In those days Judah shall be saved
and Israel shall dwell in confidence.
And this is the name the city will be called:

Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 24(25):4-5,8-9,10,14 ©

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Lord, make me know your ways.
  Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
  for you are God my saviour.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

The Lord is good and upright.
  He shows the path to those who stray,
He guides the humble in the right path,
  He teaches his way to the poor.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

His ways are faithfulness and love
  for those who keep his covenant and law.
The Lord’s friendship is for those who revere him;
  to them he reveals his covenant.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Second Reading - 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 ©

May You be Blameless When our Lord Jesus Christ Comes Again

May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you. And may he so confirm your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.

  Finally, brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.

Gospel Acclamation - Psalm 84:8

Alleluia, alleluia!
Let us see, O Lord, your mercy
and give us your saving help.

That Day Will be Sprung on you Suddenly, Like a Trap

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘There will be signs in the sun and moon and stars; on earth nations in agony, bewildered by the clamour of the ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand.

‘Watch yourselves, or your hearts will be coarsened with debauchery and drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will be sprung on you suddenly, like a trap. For it will come down on every living man on the face of the earth. Stay awake, praying at all times for the strength to survive all that is going to happen, and to stand with confidence before the Son of Man.’ (NJB)

The First Sunday of Advent

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