Sunday, December 09, 2012

Baruch says, get up! John says, go to confession! (Sunday homily)

We heard from the Prophet Baruch today.

Baruch was an associate of the Prophet Jeremiah.
Along with Jeremiah, he saw God’s People taken into captivity.
Everything was in ruins, including God’s Temple.

So when Baruch talks “mourning and misery,”
that’s what he’s talking about.
When he says to look up and rejoice, he knew that wasn’t easy to do.

This isn’t a joyful time for everyone.
If we’ve lost someone we love, or if our economic situation is bad,
it can be hard to be festive.

I often think of how, as a boy,
we always expected there would be presents under the tree;
and there always were.
Looking back, I marvel at the sacrifices my parents made
so we kids wouldn’t have a sad Christmas.

And then I think of parents who have to see their children not have what I had.
Out of work. Powerless. It breaks my heart.

So here’s a thought. If this is a tough time for you, know you’re not alone.

Second, if God has given you the means to help others,
Maybe help some of those families I described?
Knowing you helped lift someone else’s suffering
Is a pretty nice way to feel good, when you don’t feel good.

Something else occurred to me as I thought about Baruch.
I thought about it, this past week, after going to confession.

You do realize we priests need to go to confession too?

And I’ll confess something else, here: I was slow in getting there.
Yes—I make excuses too!

But the sacrament always works!
Having God remind me that his mercy is always greater
than the force of my sinful habits never fails to lift me up with hope.

There are folks running around to get “highs” from all kinds of stuff,
and this is free! No bad side effects!

I’ll tell you what I heard another priest told his parishioners.
If you want to give a present to a priest, go to confession!
I can’t tell you what a joy it is, especially—especially!—
when someone says, “It’s been a long time…”

To be a Christian is to have Christ be born in your heart.
And yet we know—we go back on the invitation.
We become like the inn-keeper who says, “no—no room.”
How sad and dispiriting is that guilt we feel.

Let it go! Rise up! Get up! Be filled with the glory of God!

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