2nd Sunday of Advent
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: Dec. 5, 2021
What will the world look like 20 years from now? What will the church look like 20 years from now?
I really have no idea! And I would be very suspicious if someone tried to tell you that they knew what it would be like. In fact, this Covid experience has made us all uncertain about what next month will look like!
Many grandparents and parents have a similar question about their grandchildren or children. What will come of my child who is struggling with depression or who has been recently divorced, or is struggling with an addiction? Here we often have to admit that we really have no idea.
One of my favourite prayers is a prayer by Thomas Merton. It goes like this:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end, nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
This uncertainty about the future, about what God is doing, this doubt that we struggle with at times, is found in any honest life of faith.
During Advent we see John the Baptist and the great prophets of the Old Testament. They also did not know what God was going to do. They did not know how or when or what God was doing to do. They believed that God was going to do something, they were waiting and expecting the Messiah, the Anointed One. But, they did not know what or how this would take place.
So, the action of God coming in Jesus was not recognized by almost anyone, it was not expected, it was utterly surprising.
Today we also do not know how or when God will work in our world, in our church, in our own lives. The result can be fear, uncertainty, doubts. But, uncertainty and doubts are not a problem, they are not a sign of lack of faith. Uncertainty and doubt is simply the result of me not being God. You are not God, so you will definitely face uncertainty and doubts.
What to do when faced with uncertainty, with doubts? We need to do what we hear John the Baptist was doing in the Gospel today. Prepare the way of the Lord. Calling the people to repentance for the forgiveness of sins. They were to make crooked ways straight. Like the people at the time of the coming of Jesus, most of us are unaware of what God is doing in our world, in our lives right now. What we need to do is prepare our hearts, repent and have forgiveness of our sins, work to make straight any crooked, broken relationships.
We cannot control what God is doing, and most times we really have no idea what God is doing. But, during this Advent, we can prepare our hearts. For some of us it might be the call to change and receive forgiveness of sins in the Sacrament of Confession. For some it will be the challenge to heal a broken relationship. By preparing well we will be better able to celebrate what God has done for our salvation and better able to recognize what God is doing right now in our world, in our church, in our lives.
Do not worry about being uncertain, about having doubts. Do not worry about not knowing what God is doing now in our world or our church or your life. This Advent prepare your heart, ask for forgiveness of sins, make crooked ways straight. Then just maybe we will see and recognize what God is doing today and how Jesus is coming among us today.