YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
HOMILY THEME: PREPARE THE WAY
(CALL TO CONVERSION)
BY: Fr. Gerald Musa
An elderly person tells the story of his spiritual journey. He recalled how he had a revolutionary spirit as young person and then his prayer was, “Lord, give me the energy to change the world.’ When he attained middle age and half of his life was gone and he had not changed anybody, the content of his prayer changed to: “Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me. Just my family and friends and I shall be satisfied.’ When he became elderly and his days were numbered, he realized how foolish he had been. His one prayer changed to, “Lord give me the grace to change myself.’ He concluded, ‘If I had prayed for this right from the start I should not have wasted my life.’ This person’s experience is very instructive and we all have a tendency to change others and convert other, but make very little efforts or offer insufficient prayers for our own conversion.
Conversion is by God’s grace. He prepares the path for conversion and prompts us in various ways to return to him. Sometimes we pretend we are not seeing the path he is preparing for our return, at other times we see the way, but stubbornly refuse follow it. Baruch, an Old Testament writer assures the people of Israel that it was God’s grace that would bring them back from exile (just as God brings a repentant sinner back to him). He told them how God was to prepare the road and make it easy for them to return home to Jerusalem. Baruch says, God would command the mountains to be low so that the people can pass easily and that he would fill in the valleys to make a level ground on which they can pass and would provide them with the security that they need on the journey. Furthermore, God would provide shade for them on the road with beautiful and sweet-smelling trees. More still, God would lead them in joy by the light of his glory and accompany them with his mercy and justice (Baruch 5:7-9). What a great offer from God! All these words of assurance were to make home coming attractive. God constantly gives similar incentives to any of us who wishes to return to the right path.
John the Baptist challenged his listeners to prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths, make every valley a level ground, and bring low every mountain and hill (Luke 3:4-6). John’s primary role was to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. He prepared his heart and was making frantic efforts to prepare other people by preaching the Gospel of repentance. Like John our duty in life is to prepare the way of the Lord in our lives and assist others to do the same.
Advent is a season in which we reflect on our crooked ways. It is a time for metanoia (inward change/change of mind). It is a season for change of direction which some prefer to call a U-turn. Conversion implies beginning a new life in the Spirit. The Apostle Paul explains the transformative nature of conversion when he says, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Conversion is a journey and not a destination. Steve Goodier, the preacher says, “To say, “I’ve been converted and that’s that,” is to say you have decided to quit growing. If life is about anything, it is about growing. The day I quit changing and learning is the day I die.” Conversion is not something stagnant, but an on-going process that needs to be sustained. We may have some spectacular conversion experience at some point in our lives, but we know also that a new life becomes dead when the Word of God, active prayer life and works of charity do not nourish it. We can understand why the Apostle Paul offered a special prayer for the Philippians – asking God who began the good work of conversion in them, to bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). In this season of advent, God begins the good work of bringing us back to the right track, and if we remain on course, we shall arrive the b