Note: due to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception Holy Day on Dec. 8th this homily was not posted on Friday as it would have normally been posted. But was held back until after the noon hour on Saturday. I invite you if you have not read my homily for the Immaculate Conception to go to Feast and Holy Day’s on the menu bar and scroll to Cycle – Immaculate Conception 18 for the homily.
Jerusalem take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the miter that displays the glory of the eternal name. For God will show all the earth your splendor: you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.
It is not often we hear a reading from the prophet Baruch. This prophet has something to say to us as disciples following Christ. God is speaking to us and about us in these words of Baruch. This is not a prophecy about some ancient city, for we are his temple, his Jerusalem and God is revealing something about ourselves, something he has made possible by his gift of Jesus. We are often distracted by the events happening around us and within us. God is telling us to turn our eyes on what he has made possible for us and to stop looking at what is wrong with us, with society and with the church. We must shake off the robe of misery and put on the cloak of salvation.
Paul tells us to clothe ourselves with Christ. Christ himself tells us he has given us the glory of we were created to constantly radiate from us. Let our lights shine Jesus tells us for we are restored and given our rightful place in the Kingdom of God. This means we rise above the circumstances and stand firm in our witness of God’s forgiveness and mercy. We are able to move beyond the things that seek to distract us because we have been gifted with all we need to be faithful disciples and witnesses because of two things; Jesus’s death on the cross for our sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit who will lead us and guide us to live our lives according to God’s will and his plan.
We must give witness to that spiritual truth no matter how we feel about the things around us today. We are a people who have been called by God, redeemed by God and made righteous by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. That is good news and we have been given more than a savior we have been given the Holy Spirit to continue to work of opening our minds and hearts to see the wonders God is doing in our midst today.
There is a Christmas song popular more than 30 years ago and its refrain is inviting us to surrender to the will of God, just as Mary did at her annunciation. The scriptures tell us she was blessed because she believed what was told to her and she acted on that belief. What is it we believe? Listen as you pray the words of the Creed for that is our faith and we profess it each week. We are to do more than say the words, we must take them to heart and act on that belief. Let the refrain of that song be our invitation to allow the words of Baruch become a reality in our lives.
That song’s refrain was this: Come Lord Jesus, Come Lord Jesus, Come and be born in our hearts. The prophet Baruch is reminding us today Calvary and Pentecost changed us forever. He is revealing a truth of how God will take us away from that place where all we can see is darkness and gloom and he will bear us aloft in glory and fill us with the transforming power of his love. He is leading us by the light of his Son to glory and to restoration. It is a simple message repeated by God from the moment Adam’s sin cost all generations the glory he created us to wear forever.
He wants us in his presence and he has made it possible for all to be restored if only we invite him into our hearts. Come Lord Jesus, Come and be born in our hearts. We do not have to study any more theology, we do not have to learn any more doctrine and we do not have to stand in fear of God because we are unworthy. The amazing thing is we do not have to be work at being righteous or holy because the Spirit will change our hearts, so we hunger for the holiness of God’s transforming presence. What we need to do is to be actively inviting Jesus into our hearts. Come Lord Jesus. Baruch reminds us we have a new identity as we invite Jesus into our hearts. He assures us we will be named “the glory of God forever.”
Wow is this true?
Named by God do those words sound familiar to you. God tells us he is restoring “…everyone who is called by my name and whom I have created for my glory, whom I have formed, whom I have made” (Isa. 43:7). This is one of those spiritual truths spoken by God reminding us of our destiny is to be his glory. The scriptures are full of his plans for us which are always plans of great things for us. Joy, peace, forgiveness, love and an understanding of who we were created to be and how we are to give witness to his desire for us to know him intimately.
The invitation is always there, today it is from Baruch and tomorrow it will be from another author, but it is always God speaking to us through the scriptures.
Come Lord Jesus, come and be born in our hearts.
If you do nothing more this Advent, I encourage you to stop the mental exercises of seeking God by using any aid or prayer. Use an old simple formula, get comfortable read the bible account Jesus after the crucifixion, the empty tomb narratives. Meditate on them and picture yourself in the scene with the account of the reaction of the women. All four gospels have this account with four very different reactions from the witnesses. What is your reaction to the resurrection is the real question? Allow yourself to react to the angel’s words about the risen Christ.
Conclude your reflection with this invitation: Come Lord Jesus, come and be born in my heart.
That is the beginning of the return to glory Baruch is telling us will happen to you and me.
There is another step we will be invited to take after we feel the presence of God within our hearts. Paul speaks about this next step in the second reading today. He tells us “we will be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. Christ will send us the Holy Spirit who will transform us into holy men and women of God who always will give glory and praise of God.
Come Holy Spirit, come and be born in my heart.