Advent is a season for trifocals. If you already wear trifocal glasses you know they help you to see more clearly in 3 different ways from up close to far away. The trifocals we need for Advent help us to see Jesus from three different points of view. The first view of Jesus is the historical picture of Jesus who was born into our humanity and came to teach us how to love. The second view of Jesus is his presence among us today. This is the Jesus we encounter in Eucharist, the Scriptures, and the people in our lives. It is this Jesus who is the source of our strength and the cause of our joy. The third view of Jesus is the glorified Christ who reigns in heaven and will be there to welcome us home when our time comes. How can we see Jesus in today’s Advent readings. Isaiah paints a picture of great joy. Beautiful flowers are blooming abundantly. Did you know that flowers are the #1 export from Israel? When Princess Diana died, England ran out of flowers and had to have flowers flown in from Israel as an expression of their love for Diana. In addition to flowers, Isaiah tells us that feeble hands will be strengthened, weak knees will be made firm, hearts that are frightened will be made strong. The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the lame will leap and run, and the mute will sing with joy. In the 2nd reading, James tells us this might not happen immediately so we need to be patient and wait even when some days we might feel like John the Baptist who sat in prison and started to wonder if his cousin, Jesus, really was the Messiah or should we be waiting for someone else. He was in pain and his trifocals were getting blurry. Jesus needed to reassure him and encourage him not to give up. Jesus had to remind him that the blind regained their sight, the lame were walking, the deaf were hearing, lepers were healed, the dead were raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. Jesus often used stories in his teaching so I would like to sum this message up with an Advent story.
— — — — —
Once upon a time there was a little boy who had been going to Sunday school for years. After hearing about God for so long, he decided it was time to go look for God himself. He thought the journey might be long, so he found an old gym bag that was his father’s; he stocked up on root beer, granola bars, and Snackwells; and then he set off, without telling his mother he was going. He was about six years old. Well, he hadn’t gotten very far when he got tired and decided to rest a while. There was a park right there, and he cut across the grass to a bench. There was only one other person in the park, an old, old woman who was sitting on the bench. He climbed up beside her. The two sat there and didn’t say anything for the longest time. Then he turned to her and asked her if she was thirsty. She smiled at him and nodded. Out came the root beer. They shared and sat in silence. Then they ate the cookies and granola bars and finished the root beer. They were together about an hour, and she didn’t say anything at all, just smiled at him every once in a while. So he talked. He told her stories of his mom and dad, brothers and sisters, first year at school, his pets, everything.
Time passed and he thought of his mother at home. He realized that she’d be furious at him for going off without telling her, so he decided he had better go home. He got down from the bench and picked up his empty bag. They had finished everything. He said goodbye to the old woman and turned to go away. He took a few steps and stopped. He thought to himself, “She has such a lovely smile. I want to see it again.” So he turned around, ran up to her, put his arms around her, and gave her a big hug and kiss. Her face broke out into that magnificent smile. He smiled back and headed for home. His mother was waiting for him at the door, frantic. She grabbed hold of him and shook him, “Where were you? I told you never to go off without telling me. Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick.” He looked at her and smiled broadly, “You didn’t have to worry. I spent the afternoon in the park with God!” Momentarily stunned, his mother was speechless. He continued thoughtfully, “You know, I never thought she’d be so old and so quiet…and thirsty.” Meanwhile, the old woman had gotten up very slowly from her bench, picked up her cane, and headed for home. Her son, about forty-five years old, was waiting for her, frantic. “Mother,” he said, “how many times do I have to tell you not to go off on your own without telling me? I’ve been looking for you everywhere and was just about to call the paramedics and the police again. You can’t just go wandering off. Where have you been?” Her face was radiant. She smiled at him and said, “Oh, you needn’t have worried. I spent the afternoon in the park with God.” Her son was stunned and thought to himself, “Oh, dear. She’s much worse than before.” But she continued, rather thoughtfully, “You know, I didn’t expect him to be so young and so talkative . . . and to love root beer!”
Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany