Homily: The best gift we can give the Lord is to love ourselves.
Noah had warned the people of eminent disaster, but no one paid attention to him. They were all too busy to think about God, much less of reforming their lives.
The Word of the Lord is again knocking at our door. Advent is a time to prepare for the Second Coming of Christ. Everybody’s too busy with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas shopping. Who’s got time to just sit and wait? Who wants to just spend time in prayer? Time is money. Wasting time is considered not profitable. Lots of folks think that prayer is a waste of time. We know better, otherwise we would not be here. However, there are the clock watchers—the ones who do not appreciate when Holy Mass goes over one hour—although there are no rules which govern the time that Holy Mass should last. One hour is considered a good standard going back to the question Jesus asked during His Passion, “Can you not watch one hour with me?” Our Lord knew that he was going to be killed. He was In agony and was looking for companionship form those He loved. All He found were sleepy heads. Too tired, too busy, or just not interested—are some of the reasons people give when they do not want to make a commitment to grow in the Faith. If indeed Advent comes and goes and we remain unchanged, then Christmas will be just another day. Christmas is the birthday of the most important person who ever lived and is alive—Jesus Christ. We make preparations for birthdays of important people. Planning for the celebration, menus, guests list. We find time to make the day special for the one we love. What are we going to buy for the someone who has everything? What do they need? Jesus does not need anything. However, He wants us, completely. Jesus wants to be the center of our life. Not just when we feel good, when things are going our way, the times we feel holy. He wants us all the time, but especially when we are down. Obviously, the Lord does not need us, we need Him. The gift that Jesus wants is our full attention.
Takes practice to give such a gift. Certainly, doesn’t happen overnight. Which is why there are four candles to mark the passing of the weeks as Christmas approaches. There are no “quick fixes” in our waiting, in our anticipation. One of the best ways to prepare is to set aside a few minutes every day of quiet time. Some folks might go into shock if they are away from their cell phone or iPad. Not having distractions makes some people nervous because we are so accustomed to noise. Clearing our mind gives us the opportunity to listen.
Listening is becoming a lost art. Folks have forgotten how to really listen. We hear, sometimes, but we have trouble digesting the meaning of the words. Countless have to pay a professional to just sit and listen to them. The challenge is to bring ourselves before God, cut the distractions and just listen to Him. Contemplation is one of the least popular forms of prayer. Thoughts will come, because to be completely empty before the Lord is almost impossible. Prayer is conversation, as long as we give God a chance to speak to us. Issues of control, wanting to tell God how to run our life, knowing that we have the solution to all our problems doesn’t help. If we try to empty our mind, we cannot be in control. Perhaps we are afraid of what we will discover. We might hear God say, “Relax, you don’t always have to be right, everything is going to be ok.” We all like to be in the driver’s seat. Advent gives us the option to allow someone else to drive. Advent is not about “doing” but about “being”. Maybe during our prayer of “letting go” we might receive the strength to embrace the shadows in our personality that have remained tucked away. The more we are at peace with who we are, the more we can say, “Thank you God for making me me.” Best gift that we can give to the Lord is to like who we are.
God accepts us, loves us unconditionally, gave His life that we might live. The least we can do is love ourselves—the first step in loving others.