Sunday, December 6, 2015

Rest... and Let Nothing You Dismay - Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Advent

So, are you ready for Christmas? Yeah, me neither. There is so much to do! I must admit, it is so easy to crash into Christmas—it being here before we know it. That said,  I wish to continue our look at some popular Christmas songs so that we may more readily prepare. Last week, it was Joy to the World; this week, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

            God rest ye merry gentlemen,
            let nothing you dismay.
            Remember Christ our Savior
            was born on Christmas Day
            to save us all from Satan’s power
            when we were gone astray…

God rest ye merry gentlemen! Let nothing you dismay!

I must admit, it is so easy to fall into dismay in these days. On the one hand, we have had the constant bombardment of bad news and terrorism and death and evil in our world. It is so easy to become discouraged. And when I add to that all of the things I have to get done on my Christmas list… well, it can all become quite overwhelming.

But, let nothing you dismay!

This sounds irrational. How can we still be of good cheer and “merry gentlemen” even in the face of evil and a mountain of things to do? Two words: Remember-- and Rest.

And so, the next lines:

Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day
to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray.

Remember Christ was born to save us from Satan’s power. Is there any doubt that Satan has been running amok? Don’t you find it odd that in the very season of hopefulness and peace, we become the fullest of anxiety, impatience, envy, and busy-ness?

“Busy” stands for something, you know. It stands for Burdened Under Satan’s Yoke.

There’s a difference between being busy and being full. Being busy is going all over the place, stressed out, never enough time, a huge mountain… Being full, on the other hand, can be content, peaceful, joyful. Leading a full life is much different than having a busy life. A busy life doesn't necessary mean being full. Often, it means quite the opposite!

That's one of the problems with being busy: it keeps us from remembering: Jesus' power, the graces we have, the purpose of life, and so on.

Here is the key for our Advent preparation, I think. John tells us to prepare the way of the Lord. And how? To raise the valley and to make low the mountains—that's ancient-speak for making a highway for the arrival of the king. But for us, this has a two-fold spiritual meaning.

First, the valley must be filled. The valley is our dismay, our hopelessness, our discouragement and despair. No more of that! Light shines in the darkness! Remember Christ is our Savior and our King born on Christmas Day and He overcomes every evil—even the present day! Let us be filled with hope—a hope that sees that God is in control and will help us always!

Second, the mountain: the mountains must be made low. That’s our pride, our mountain of stuff to do, the envy, the great peaks of anger and impatience. We need to make those low through humility: by admitting, “I don’t need to buy so much”; “I don’t need to go crazy this season”; “I don’t have to do so much to have a good Christmas and to be a good parent. I don’t have to be so… busy.”

Let us repeat the first line of our song:

God rest ye merry gentlemen,
            let nothing you dismay.

Rest. This is what we need. Rest is the key to our Advent preparation this week.

Why rest?

A man once told me, “Son, you can’t land a plane going 600 miles per hour.” Good point, that. The plane has to be slowed down and brought in for the landing. So too, we can’t expect to be flying through Advent at 600 miles per hour and then suddenly be at rest at Christmas—that would be called crashing into Christmas. And when we crash into Christmas, we are already tired of Christmas when Christmas arrives! Instead of being awake at Christmas, we fall asleep—like the town of Bethlehem, or the foolish who did not keep watch for the coming King.

So, we need to bring our plane in slowly—we need to rest.

What does this look like? It is Jesus at rest in the boat, even when the waves are crashing 'round.

Practically, I think, firstly, we need to take a quasi-Lenten approach to our consumption of media. Perhaps a little Lenten fast from the internet and from the news cycle would be good for us. We know what is going on in the world—and if there is something really, really important, we’ll hear about it. But let’s not BUSY ourselves with it right now. Let’s rest.

Second, I think we need to take more intentional time to breathe and pray. We have a perfect opportunity on Tuesday of this week: we will be celebrating our nation’s patronal feast day: Mary and the Immaculate Conception. I dare say that if we are too busy to go to this Holy Day of Obligation, we are too BUSY. Go to Holy Mass, pray, and let our Mother, the Untier of Knots, relieve that ball of Christmas lights. 

Finally, I think we need to give God more room to be God. Pope Blessed John XXIII—the Pope, a man who had the weight of the world on his shoulders and the anxieties and worries of nuclear holocaust on his mind—do you know how he would go to bed? He would take a moment to offer a prayer and then say, “Well, Lord, it’s your Church. The Pope is going to bed.”  … Let’s put our day to rest and get some sleep. I mean, really, if Jesus can save us from Satan’s power, I am certain that Jesus can bring order to our Christmas list and comfort to our worries.

Yes, it is so easy to let things get away from us—that “life just kinda happened”—and we wake up and realize we have gone astray. Well, here we are in the Second Week of Advent: the call to prepare is here renewed. Let us rest: rest from the world, rest through prayer, rest in grace. I think if we trust in this and walk in such hope, we will have a good Christmas, full of tidings of comfort and joy.

            God rest ye merry gentlemen,
            let nothing you dismay.
            Remember Christ our Savior
            was born on Christmas Day
            to save us all from Satan’s power
            when we were gone astray.
            O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy!
            O tidings of comfort and joy!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Father. Your words were exactly the reminder I needed today to slow down and let Advent into my heart. God bless!