8th/9th December 2018

posted 10 Dec 2018, 02:08 by Parish Office

Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year C (7/12/18)


Last week you may remember that I mentioned something amazing Ebenezer Scrooge did.  After committing himself to a change of heart, he decided to do something beyond perhaps the wildest dreams of a lot of people – he cancelled their debts for Christmas.  As a result, they were able to sing “Thank you very much.  Thank you very much.  It’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me.”  Today, the readings are also very much about joy.


The first reading is saying to us:  the time of sorrow is no more!  Now is the time to rejoice!  Your people were escorted away by their enemies, but now they return, carried back in glory like royalty.  God turns defeat into victory!


The psalm takes up the same idea:  it speaks of deliverance from slavery; the misery of having to serve other masters is replaced by freedom, laughter and songs.


In the second reading, St Paul begins, “Every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy...”


Finally, the Gospel speaks of clearing out the junk, turning over a new leaf and putting things right to make a royal highway for God.  When I moved to Hanley and travelled to the hospital, I was surprised that one of the routes you can take involve going through various small roads between terraced houses -  I was surprised that there wasn’t a nice easy road to get there.  I’ve since found other routes.  But some years ago, when I went in someone else’s car to Wolstanton, I was surprised at the existence of the D road – in my naivety I thought that it was only places like Birmingham where those kinds of roads existed, where they had cleared out and demolished various houses and buildings to make a big, wide, fast road through the middle of town.  Of course, what I should have remembered was that a similar thing had happened in Redditch where I was living at the time – when Redditch became a “new town” and they expanded it, they put various 70 mph highways through the town, which meant that certain houses had had to be demolished.  I spotted at one point, when trying to do a bit of visiting, that there was a jump in the house numbers because of the highway that ran underneath the road at one point.  All those houses had been cleared away to make space for the highway.  I guess that in Stoke-on-Trent there must have been various building that went when the D road was constructed – some lamented, others forgotten about and not missed.


It’s a bit like clearing out the junk from our own lives:  that can be a painful process, too.  But it can also bear great fruit.  A  bit like someone who has too much cholesterol and has circulation problems, who then manages to get his arteries cleaned out so that the blood flows properly once again.  “I feel like a new man” he says.  Or maybe it’s a bit like when my father decided to flush out the central heating and put a cleaning additive into the tank – it was a nuisance having to get all the air out of the radiators afterwards, but we soon found that the radiators warmed up in half the time.


God looks at us, struggling with the cholesterol and limescale of sin and says, “I didn’t make you to suffer like that.  I made you to rejoice.  Come and be healed and made new again.”  Sometimes, we think that we are the ones who put our lives right, take control and set things straight.  But it’s always God who takes the initiative, and puts the zeal into us and the determination to get to work.  As we heard in the first reading:


“Jerusalem, take off your dress of sorrow and distress,

put on the beauty of the glory of God for ever,

wrap the cloak of integrity of God around you …

since God means to show your splendour to every nation under heaven”.


We have not been created for misery, but for greatness.  As we work with God to clear our hearts this Advent, we too can sing, “Thank you very much.  Thank you very much.  It’s the nicest things that anyone’s ever done for me.”