1st Sunday of Advent Homily 2014

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stress_free_christmasHave you ever had a déjà-vu experience? You know that eerie feeling you get of having been here before. It’s like you have a memory of having done the exact same thing in the past. It’s very strange.

Neuropsychologists tell us that it’s the result of a glitch in our brains. Our brain has two parts or hemispheres. These two halves of our brain communicate with one another through all sorts of connections. It’s like our brain is filled with electrical wires. Sometimes the wires get crossed.

So what happens is that we have an experience and then one side of our brain perceives it a millisecond before the other half of the brain. Even that smallest time-lag makes it feel like we are having a memory of something past. It’s very disquieting.

Christmas can also be a very disquieting time for many of us. And it’s similar to the experience of the déjà-vu. You see part of us gets all caught up in the necessary preparations for Christmas. We are busy with Black Friday shopping, helping Santa Claus with his list and checking it twice!

Many of us get super busy baking and cooking, cleaning and decorating and so many Christmas parties we grow sick of egg-nog. And then suddenly December 25th arrives and the Christmas season arrives and as we gather in church it feels like we haven’t stopped since Thanksgiving and we arrive at mass exhausted and feeling a little uneasy there’s a sense of disquiet within us.

What happens is that in our attempt to prepare all the physical things we like to have for Christmas. We sometimes forget to prepare for the spiritual part of Christmas until we get to Christmas Day mass. It’s like with the brain and déjà-vu. We experience a little bit of a disconnect. So how can prevent this from happening to us?

Well we need to prepare ourselves spiritually for Christmas as well as all the shopping and cooking and visiting we do. We heard the Prophet Isaiah say in the First Reading:

“Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!”

So a friends of mine, Fr Tom Rosica, a Basilian priest, came up with 39 things we can do during Advent to be mindful of God and to do what is right:

1. Mend a quarrel.

2. Build peace.

3. Seek out a forgotten friend.

4. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust.

5. Write a love letter.

6. Share some treasure.

7. Give a kind answer even though you would like to respond harshly.

8. Encourage a young person to believe in him/herself.

9. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed.

10. Find the time.

11. Make time.

12. Forego a grudge.

13. Forgive an enemy.

14. Celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation.

15. Listen more.

16. Apologize if you were wrong.

17. Be kind even if you weren’t wrong!

18. Try to understand.

19. Flout envy.

20. Examine the demands you make on others.

21. Think first of someone else.

22. Appreciate.

23. Be kind,

24. be gentle.

25. Laugh a little.

26. Laugh a little more.

27. Deserve confidence.

28. Take up arms against malice.

29. Decry complacency.

30. Express gratitude.

31. Go to Church.

32. Stay in Church a little while longer than usual.

33. Gladden the heart of a child.

34. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth.

35. Speak your love.

36. Speak it once again.

37. Speak it even more loudly.

38. Speak it quietly.

39. Rejoice, for the Lord is near!

If we do these 39 things we will not only have prepared ourselves in mind, body and spirit for a better Christmas but if we make these 39 things daily habits we will have rehearsed being watchful and alert, ready for when the Messiah comes again in Glory.