December 4, 2022

II Sunday Advent
Year A
Fr. Jon Reardon

Several years ago my best friend from college was in terrible car accident. He was hit head on, his car was totaled … it was the second bad accident he had been in, in recent years … though this one was worse. This one left him with a brain injury – though today, thank God, he is fine now, but it was scary … I flew out to Wisconsin to be at his side along with his family. As I look back on that now, I see it in no other way than a blessing – it was a wake-up call for him. He had been struggling with some personal issues – but this put everything back in proper order … His life, the practice of the faith, greater discipline on his part… he is back to his old self – he needed that wake-up call. He needed to be shaken up.

          The terms “threshing floor” and “winnowing fan” – these are lost on us… but not to a 1st century rural audience… A threshing floor was a wide flat surface where stalks of grain were placed after the harvest. On a windy day, the farmer would take a winnowing fan – which looked like a rake – and would shake up the grain … the good stuff would fall back to the floor and the lighter, useless, “chaff” – the outer casing which was inedible for humans – would be blown away by the wind. What exactly is John the Baptist saying here? He is painting a picture of God’s judgment – portrayed like a harvest … God will take to Himself that which is good, the good grain, and that which is bad – the chaff – will be blown away, burned up …

          I was listening recently to a podcast – a homily delivered by Fr. Mike Schmitz… the Bible in a Year guy… He mentioned something that I never thought of – Advent is 29 days. Have you ever thought about that? We know how long Lent is… 40 days… Advent is only 29 days and it has been a week already… so 21 days left! He noted that in this short time, God is closer than we think… He is closer to us than we realize… but at times we need something to wake us to that reality. We need a wake up call – to be shaken up by God … We cannot just come to Mass and enjoy the show… We are not here for no reason… Not for entertainment… not for the joke of the week … Don’t come for those things… come because God changes you – He changes your life… He purifies you from within …The desire of the Lord is to purify, to remove all that is bad is from us so that there can be more room for Him … This process – like the separating of wheat from chaff – is time consuming, labor intensive … but what is the end result? Our clouded vision becomes a little clearer … our angst and frustration over little things seems not to be so problematic … there begins to set in a certain calmness of heart where the patience and love of God is more deeply perceived and felt …

          Advent can be a beautiful time to reflect a little more deeply and seriously about the areas of our lives that need to be purified – washed clean… This short season calls for our fixed and focused attention on Divine things in such a way that makes us think in new ways, act in new ways … in ways that reflect what we do here – in ways that reflect Who we worship… Let this Advent be our wake-up call…

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