The Mirror 2019-12-1 Advent 1 Fr. Roberto
Homily for First Sunday of Advent – Year A
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Church, Los Angeles, CA
December 1, 2019
Title: The Mirror
Theme: We are called to be the light of Christ in the darkness.
Readings: Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44
A number of years ago, a wise old man was asked, “What is the purpose of your life?” The old man thought about it for a few seconds, then he took a small round mirror out of his wallet, and told this story. “During WWII, I was a child in a poor remote German village. One day, on the road, I found several broken pieces of a mirror from a wrecked Nazi motorcycle. I took one of the pieces, and, by scratching it on a stone, I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would not shine – in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find. I kept the little mirror, and as I grew up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it. This is what I am about. This is the purpose of my life.”
What a great way for that wise man to describe not only the purpose of his own life, but, in many ways, the purpose of all our lives: to reflect the light into dark places. Certainly, as Christians, we are called to reflect the light of knowledge, truth and goodness, but most importantly, we are called to reflect the light of Jesus in our world. And so our Liturgy Committee has chosen as our theme for this Advent: “Be the light of Christ in the darkness.” So, throughout this season of Advent we are going to ask ourselves how we can be like that mirror in the story and reflect Jesus’ light everywhere we go, especially in the dark places in our world.
Unfortunately, there has always been darkness in our world, and our readings today reflect that reality. For example, during the time of our first reading, eight centuries before Christ, the powerful Assyrian Empire had just conquered the kingdom of Israel and was poised to strike at the prophet Isaiah’s own land of Judah to the south. In spite of that incredibly dark situation of impending doom, Isaiah boldly reflected the light of faith and hope in God and proclaimed to his people: O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2: 5)!
In today’s second reading Paul refers to the darkness of his own time as he writes to the Christians living in Rome and gives them the seemingly impossible task of living chaste and moral lives in that city known for the darkness of debauchery, violence and immorality. He tells them in today’s reading: “Let us then throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light;” (Romans 13: 12). Paul, like Isaiah before him, boldly challenges them, “O Christians of Rome, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord; let the light of Jesus shine through you in the midst of the darkness around you.”
Finally, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells his hearers – and us as well – to stay awake, to be prepared for his advent, his coming. Of course he is referring to his Second Coming at the end of time when he will return to judge the living and the dead. But Jesus is also saying that he wants them and us to prepare for him to come into our lives right here and right now! He wants to come into our world through us today and every day. Jesus is saying to us: “Come, walk in my light today! Let my light shine through you in the midst of the darkness around you.”
I think we would all agree that there continues to be a lot of darkness all around us in our world, in our country, in our community, and even in our Catholic Church. And we are called to shine the light of Jesus in all those places. However, at the same time, we need to make sure that Jesus’ light also shines brightly here, inside us, right? Please take out your homily guides and look at the image on page one. That image represents the light of Jesus inside of you. So, on this first Sunday of Advent, we are going to begin by looking at ourselves a little bit. I would like you to think about the areas of your own life that might need Jesus’ light. I invite you, if you wish, to turn to page 5 and follow along as I ask the following questions. [From the homily guide: Is there any darkness in you that you need to examine? For example, the darkness of envy or jealousy, of anger, of not forgiving and holding on to a grudge; the darkness of some habitual sin or tendency that might lead to impatience, intolerance, or prejudice; of criticizing or judging others. Is there within you the darkness of pride or arrogance, of thinking of yourself and your needs and wants before those of others? Or perhaps the darkness of the opposite, of not appreciating or caring for yourself?] I encourage you to do some homework this week and think about these things and how you can shine Jesus’ light inside your own heart. There are some other reflection questions in the homily guide to help you do that.
In the coming weeks of Advent, we will talk about how we might be the light of Jesus for others, shining the light of Jesus in ever-widening circles beginning next week by thinking about our families and close friends and how we can shine the light of Jesus in those circles. Then, for the third week of Advent, we’ll look at how we can be the light of Jesus in our neighborhood, our parish and in our local community. Finally, in the last week of Advent, we will consider how we might try to be the light of Jesus for our country and our world.
As we proceed through this season of Advent, we will utilize two important Catholic resources to inspire us to be the light of Christ in the darkness: one is a symbol, and the other is a person. The symbol we will focus on is the Advent wreath that most of us are familiar with. As we light the candles of the Advent wreath each week, we remind ourselves that Jesus is the Light of the World; he is our light in the midst of the darkness. And, as we light one more candle each week, we symbolize our growing hope and confidence that the light of Jesus will overcome the darkness in us and in our world.
The second resource we will use this Advent is the Blessed Virgin Mary; specifically, Our Lady of Guadalupe. That is why we honored her image here in our church at the beginning of our Mass today. Our Lady of Guadalupe was a marvelous reflection of the light of Jesus to the indigenous people of Mexico at a time of great darkness when they were conquered and oppressed by the Spanish conquistadors as you can read in my bulletin message today. Not only is she a great inspiration for us in our lives, she is also a great intercessor who will always pray for us and lead us to her son, Jesus.
So, my brothers and sisters, in the midst of this hectic time of year; in the midst of the darkness that continues to surround us, Jesus, the light of the world, challenges us to be like Isaiah the prophet, like Paul the apostle, and like Our Lady of Guadalupe. He says to all of us: “O people of St. Dominic’s Parish, come. Walk in my light today! Be my light in the midst of the darkness around you!”
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