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December 7th, 2003  2nd Sunday in Advent Lk 3-1-6
Catholic Homilies
December 7th, 2003

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2nd Sunday in Advent Lk 3-1-6


  The Christmas stories are a strange mixture of concrete historical awareness and mystical celebration, the latter usually  put togethr from Old Testament themes, particularly from Isaiah as in today’s Gospel. Luke gives the historical details so that it relatively easy for us to fix the time that John the Baptist emerged from the desert  and started to preach his baptism of transformation. Then he switches to the Prophet who is clearly describing  (though not exactly predicting) a messianic age. Luke tells us that this has really happened. We know, he says, we were there when He came. The prophecy is of course poetic which does not mean it is something less than literal truth but something more. John prepared for the coming of Jesus and thus fit the Isaiah model. So too we must prepare the way this advent season and indeed all the time.

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Once upon a time it was announced that the Pope was coming to town and indeed to a certain parish in the town. This was a surprise to everyone, not least of all to the pastor and the bishop. Well, clearly the parish had to be spiffed up for his holiness, the long overdue tuck pointing of the school, the repair of the stained glass windows, the purchase of new vestments to replace the somewhat worn and even rag-tag collection in the sacristy, the installation of new computers in the classrooms, the resurfacing of the parking lot, an updating of the public address system,  new china and silverware for the papal lunch – all the things that most parishes need but  don’t quite get around to as quickly as they might. Now there was some talk about all this burnishing of the image in the parish – there is as you know always talk in a parish about anything and everything. Some people said why don’t we let the pope see us the way we really are, Others said, isn’t this a lot of money to spend just because the Pope is coming, still others groaned why do we have to wait for the Pope to come to do things we should have done long ago. There was, as you might imagine, some jockeying for position among the parish council, the liturgy committee, and the music committee and considerable agitation about who the mass servers would be and whether the Pope would tolerate altar persons. The decision here (and the pastor claimed Solomon’s cloak for his decision) was that all eighth graders would be mass servers. Then the pope’s advance people showed up and they are at least as tough as the Secret Service (who were also there by the way)Everyone was a nervous wreck for a week for the pope’s visit and virtually no one except the babies and the dogs slept the night before. Then the Pope came and everything went perfectly and the praised the parish and its people for all their wonderful work. “Let’s do it again,” a seventh grade girl told everyone, “It was fun.” No one agreed with her, but she was right.

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