In this blog I usually include my own homilies or reflections or experiences. However, every week, the parish also has the gift of Fr. Beal, Fr. DeSiano, Fr. Osuagwu, and Deacon Beiberich at the ambo too, to deliver homilies. So very often, they are so good.

It makes going to our parish a nice variety of preaching, even if you go to the same Mass each weekend, the clergy rotate around, and you get to hear various homilies and styles.

Here is the one given by Fr. Beal for the 3rd Sunday of Advent


Many years ago, when my nephew Jason was five years old, he was opening Christmas presents and came upon a brightly wrapped package from his grandmother. He held the package up for all to see and announced, “Look! A package for me from Nanny. What could it be? Clothes, I s’pose.” With that, he ripped the package open and extracted its content from the shredded paper and tangled ribbons. He held it up and said, “Look. New clothes for me from Nanny. What a surprise!” 

Although he was only five years old, Jason had already discovered that this season of surprises holds few real surprises. The same new clothes from the same usual suspects; the same new toys which will become old and boring, if not broken, by the end of the day; the same old family and friends saying the same things and exhibiting the same annoying habits. Most of us have a few more than five Christmases under our belts, but we too know how few surprises this season is likely to have for us, how few visions of sugar plums will dance out of our heads and into our lives. All our Christmases past make us prone to anticipate that this Christmas will be more of the “same old same old.”

But Advent is the season that challenges us to wait for what is beyond the obvious, to hope that there really is something surprising and startling struggling to emerge from the same old same old. Advent challenges us to look beyond the obvious and apparent to try to glimpse God’s presence permeating our daily lives. 

And it was with that willingness to hope beyond the obvious despite so many dreams disappointed and promised surprises that never materialized that John the Baptist in prison sent his disciples to Jesus to ask: “Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?” And we who are imprisoned not by iron bars and shackles but by disappointments and disillusionment can ask the same thing. Is Jesus really the one who is to come or should we look for another? Is it possible that the one who was born in Bethlehem long ago can be born in us today? Do we dare to hope and dream that the one whose light led the Magi on can lead us on amid the encircling gloom of our world and our lives until, at last, the dark night of our souls is gone? We have been disappointed so often; we have seen so many surprises fizzle into the same old same old; can we dare to hope again that there really is something surprising beyond the obvious, something extraordinary beyond the ordinary? 

Jesus answers us today in the same way that he answered John the Baptist long ago. Not with words but with deeds. “Go tell John what you hear and see,” Jesus told his disciples, “the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.” And if we are willing to look carefully, perhaps we can see the same remarkable things. What we see and hear may not be as spectacular as the events of long ago, but they are still pretty miraculous. We do not see many blind eyes being opened, but perhaps we can see glimmers of hope enlightening hearts blinded by too many tears, perhaps even opening our blind hearts. We may not see many crippled limbs being restored, but perhaps we can see crooked little men and crooked little women like us being relieved of crippling fear and self-doubt. We may not see many lepers being cleansed, but perhaps we can see the leprosy of festering resentment and bitterness being cleansed from hearts of people like us. We may not see many  deaf ears being opened, but we see deaf hearts being opened to hear words of forgiveness and mute tongued being loosed to say, “I’m sorry.” 

What we see and hear during this Advent is about as surprising to us as new clothes at Christmas from a grandmother are to a five-year-old. But who would have dreamed that people like us could be changed. And if even we were changed, wouldn’t that be a surprise?

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