Second Sunday of Advent
Reading I Book of the Prophet Baruck
Reading II Philippians
Alleluia Luke 3:4-6
Gospel Luke 3:1-6
As we listen to the readings for these four weeks of Advent, the Scriptures are to excite in us that we can’t do it alone. So the question is, how do we make the crooked way straight and the rough smooth? How do we create all that God wants us to enjoy? It probably comes down to a phrase that I read not too long ago in an article. It said, “It’s all about Sunday, stupid.” Think about that. It’s all about Sunday.
You and I are not stupid but you and I know — it’s all about Sunday. And what it is about is that on Sunday it’s a day that the Old Testament and New Testament comes alive, and everything is set aside so that we can embrace God and be renewed and realize that life just isn’t perfect. As we walk the path of life all of us need each other. So let’s think about that for a moment.
What are some of the things in life that trouble us or we do not understand, and the road gets bumpy once in a while? Most of those things in life all take place in the family, never at the outskirts but always at the table.
There was a young couple who fell in love and got married. They were blessed with a beautiful child. Shortly after the son was born the father became ill and died at a very young age leaving this wife and son with just each other. They continued to live their life and the husband and dad were always missed. Then after a certain amount of time a gentleman came into their lives and it seemed like an answer to prayer and a gift from God. This man was so gentle. He could embrace this child, he could embrace this woman, and he understood the whole experience that they had just lost a husband and a father.
Eventually, they decided it was time to become family again. And this gentleman asked the mother, “Will you marry me?” She said, “Yes. I think this is the right thing, and I think my former husband would give his blessing to this.”
Well, everything seemed fine until they went to the parish to be married. When they went to the church to fill out the forms and plan out the wedding they found that this gentleman was not of the Catholic faith and had a previous marriage. Here was a stumbling block. They were eventually able to get everything processed and get married. But the young man said, “You know, I find it hard that someone is going back in my life when I made a mistake and some things are going to be held against me forever. I just would like to be set free.”
That couple could be sitting here at anyone’s kitchen table. We all experience this in many ways. The church, with the effort of our Holy Father, is now beginning to look at how we can create a new hospitality and bring everyone into the fold and make the whole process so much easier. The joy is not going through an annulment process. The joy is what these people went through for months and a few years, and that they went through their own healing. They had already healed everything and that’s what the church needs to bless. We are the church. We are the church. We need to bless this. It’s not the Pope blessing something in Rome for everybody in five continents, but it’s up to every faith community. So that’s why: “Its all about Sunday, stupid.”
That’s why we come here, to put things aside, to welcome each other, to let everybody know that we understand. Life is just not perfect for any one.
Another issue in our lives is when someone finds out that his or her attraction is to someone of the same sex rather than someone of the opposite sex and to be able to work through that process. First of all, you have to realize that we are brought up differently — we are brought up to some day become husbands and wives and brothers and sisters and friends. So the natural flow is to think, “Someday I want to marry and have children and grandchildren and have a beautiful life. But then I find out that that’s not where my joy and happiness is. So how do I deal with that?”
Most people, when they live in a town the size of Quincy, or Marblehead, or Carthage, or Mendon — rather than face someone ignoring them — they all move to Chicago and San Francisco and New York and St. Louis and Los Angles. They think, “I want to go some place where I can get lost, but also where I can be found and I can go on living my life.”
Sometimes we do not always read the signs. A very good friend of mine was ordained and I knew his family and everything. I was with him often and I was just not picking up on the signals because I was just absorbed in the friendship, and that’s all. Finally, one day after he had been ordained for ten years he called me and said, “I just want you to know, I am leaving.” There was dead silence. I didn’t know why he decided to leave but I asked, “Are you sure?” And he said, “Yes.”
He immediately headed for Chicago. He got a job and I went up to visit him a couple of times and everything seemed fine. We would meet for breakfast. I think he was thinking that I knew what was going on, but I was not really paying attention. Until finally a mutual friend told me, “Do you know that he has a partner?”
I said, “No.”
My friend said, “Well, we kind of figured you weren’t picking up on that. He’s had a partner for eleven years and he is extremely happy. But he is not about to come back to a small town and live. But his life is filled with fulfillment.”
And so we look at that and say, “Wow.” And, you know, it goes back to the family. His brother had a difficult situation and had to go into prison for a while. He served his term and was released and now all the family is healthy and doing what they want to do. Now their mom has dementia and doesn’t know one son from the other. That’s who comes to the kitchen table. That’s who comes to church on Sunday. And we are being asked as a community not to judge.
We are going to begin the “Year of Mercy.” We are supposed to have compassion, we are supposed to take care of each other. We are supposed to make the crooked way smooth and the rough way open to everyone. And it takes place when we gather for Eucharist. It takes place when we gather for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s why the person came up with the slogan: “It’s all about Sunday, stupid.” If you are not going to be here on Sunday, you are going to miss the grace of the Eucharist.
If you and I are not here on Sunday we are going to lose contact with each other. If we are not here on Sunday there is no way to say, “I love you. How are you? I forgive you,” and then share that throughout the week others. We need to be a family at the banquet table. We need that body and blood of Christ. We have to learn how to break bread. Jesus says, “When you do, you are going to find out that when you start taking my spirit and giving it away — it’s replenished automatically.”
So today as we prepare for Christmas, let’s not just think of our immediate blood family, or our parish family — let’s think of the whole world and all the people who are not at peace with themselves who need that embrace and who need to come forward and receive Eucharist. That’s the power. We are not just passing out candy. We are not asking you to sip Kool Aid. We are being asked to take the body and blood of Christ and really make it our own. Jesus says, “Don’t try and figure it out because you never will until someday I take you home. And you will look into my face, and when you see my face — it’s all going to make sense.”
But while we are on here earth we go back to that music and scripture, “Lord, open my eyes and my ears. Let me have feelings, and not be afraid of my feelings. Let me trust where you are leading me. Let me see the world as you see the world. Why did you make us all so different?”
We will never understand, but Jesus tells us, “I didn’t ask you to understand. Go back and read the Bible. I just asked you ‘to follow me.’ I didn’t ask you to get a doctorate about my life. I just asked, ‘Will you follow me?’ And if you do, your life will be unbelievably rich.”
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.
(TASCAM DR 40 file 0022)