Some years ago, I attended a month long senior management training program at Harvard. The bulk of the program was spent reviewing case studied of businesses that were successful and dissecting the model. Fed Ex, Ryder Truck, Wachovia Bank, and Toyota were just a few of the businesses we had to study. There were 20 of us from various business backgrounds and from different parts of the country. One of the case studies involved Sony’s development of the Walkman. The walkman was an innovative product of its day; it changed the way we listen to music. In fact, in one way, it led to our modern iPod. What was unique about the Walkman was the way it was developed. A small group of individuals were given a task by the Chairman of Sony, Mr. Morita: Develop a new product was the team assignment. Morita gave the team no direction about what that product should be, no direction on the market segment it should target, no discussion of a budget limit, and no timetable to complete the task. So how could anyone without any more information come up with what the Chairman certainly expected of them? Mr. Morita certainly had an objective in mind. Most of us would flounder without any direction at all. So we would begin to question: When do you want this? What is my budget? Which market segment is this for? We would ask for some guidance. In one way, that is exactly the situation the servants in today’s gospel find themselves. How could they do what the master of the house required unless he left them with clear instructions? Would just being busy, keeping active, so they were doing something on his return be enough to satisfy the master? And how can we today know if we are doing exactly what God requires of us as we live out our faith? We are somehow taught that we are doing the right things if we just follow the rules. The Pharisees believed they were doing the right things as they rigidly followed the law, but Jesus often chastised them – saying their hearts were far from God. What is at the heart of doing what our Master and Lord requires of us. I believe that God is clear in what we are to be doing as believers. His last words to his disciples and us before he ascended was “Go and make disciples.” God desired then and now for all who came to believe in him to be active in building the kingdom. Not just to add members to the church, not just add worshipers, not just add believers, not just add contributors but to make disciples. I can imagine the disciples at that time wondering, “How do you do that?” Like Morita’s task to that Walkman team, there was no plan, no direction. He just told them to go and make disciples. This command came at a time when they were worried about their own lives as they were holed up in that upper room – hiding in fear. Yes, they were in prayer but it seemed they were praying like Jesus in the garden, that the cup would pass them by, praying that they would survive. Each Advent we are invited to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Jesus’ coming. We focus on the coming of the Lord – his entering the world in the person of Jesus. But the issue is not to suddenly get busy and prepare. The issue is what have we been doing up to now. Each and every week of this season we come together to enter into the liturgical prayer as a community of believers. We also have prayers that we pray in private; many of us will join programs or Bible studies to learn more about our faith. We do desire to live out our faith in a way that it satisfies what God requires of us. But we are so busy doing do we ever think of what it takes to be disciples? We pray that we have hearts that are centered on God and sustained by the Holy Spirit. We may pray that we grow in our desire to use the gifts and talents given to us by God. We may pray that our commitment to serve grows stronger and that our joy is found in sharing our gifts with others. Yet as disciples we need to do more than praying for something to change in us and to grow in our own spirituality. Disciples need to allow the transforming power of Pentecost to change us so we go about building the kingdom. We need to understand that apart from Christ we can do nothing. We need to understand that God will provide all we need to do what is required of us. We need to understand that it is not what we do but who we are. Our task given to us by Jesus is to go and build the kingdom of God; to give witness to the gift of salvation. That team from Sony knew the mind of Mr. Morita, and so they went off and developed a product that was unheard of and yet it changed everything. As disciples we should know the mind of Christ and give witness to the fact we are changed by the life, death and resurrection of Christ. We are required to actively work to make disciples of others. How do we do that? Where do we go? What do we say? Christ was very clear about our role as disciples. The scriptures are clear about the role of disciples. The Church in Vatican II was clear that the laity needed to be an active and vibrant in their role in making disciples. We have a Church that consistently has given us the means to live those words. We need to do in our lives what Christ did in his. We see in Scripture that Jesus did three things that sustained him as he followed the will of the Father. We need to do those same three things in order to follow the will of God. One of the things Jesus did was that he had a regular private prayer life. We have those pictures of Jesus going off by himself to pray. We also need to have a regular consistent prayer life. This Advent as in every Advent, there are various resources we can use in order to develop a daily prayer life. By using those resources daily, you will develop a prayer life that involves you giving time to God and to God’s word each day. Jesus also had a communal prayer life. Matthew says Jesus went to the temple daily “as was his habit.” He worshiped with the community of believers. In his private prayer, he became one with God; in his communal prayer, he became one with the people of God. W can do the same as Christ, and enter into the worship of the community. The third thing Jesus did was that “He always did the will of God.” He knew God’s will because he was intimate with God through his prayer. He measured everything he did in relationship to God’s will. We need this Advent to focus on doing God’s will and becoming disciples – overcoming our fear and our reluctance to boldly show our belief in Jesus Christ. Let us invite Christ into our hearts – Come Lord Jesus Come – and then, like Paul, let us not be ashamed of the gospel.
3 thoughts on “B Cycle – 1st Sunday in Advent”
Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom with all of us, Deacon Dave. We appreciate reading things that will help us in our growth and learning more about God and our faith.
What an inspiration you are to Jack and myself Dave….thank you for sharing your homilies with us. It is a wonderful way to start our Sunday morning by having a cup of coffee with our Lord, reading His Word and finishing up with your homily….it doesn’t get better than that!
Thank you for answering the Spirit’s call to feed us with His words. I too need to remember that our relationship does not continue to grow without regular time spent communicating with our Lord. He does direct us if we listen for His voice in our life.