Fr. Bob’s Homilies

The Word Inspires

Archive for November, 2008

First Sunday of Advent (B)

Posted by frmac on November 24, 2008

Thankfulness is the precious gift that gives joy and meaning to our lives. Before we can be thankful, however, we must recognize how gifted we really are. Sounds easy, but it really takes work and effort to learn how to do this. Some of us tend to focus on what we don’t have, and to take for granted the smorgasbord of gifts the Lord has given to us. It takes constant vigilance, and a concerted effort to train ourselves to focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have. And, it takes the same determination and vigilance to help others recognize their giftedness. It is called, ‘counting our blessings, and empowering the other’. 

The second reading this Sunday (1Corinthinns 1:3-9) might have had the same significance for you, as it did for me when I read it. St. Paul’s opening words reminded me to not only count my own gifts and blessings, but the gifts, talents and efforts of others. Speaking to the Christian Community at Corinth Paul said, “I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you.”   How often do we give thanks for the other?

We often tend to focus on our own person, and our own initiatives. And, when we do think of others, we do so in comparison to ourselves.  Maybe when we compare, it helps us recognize the gifts and talents of others.  But, if we are not careful, comparing ourselves to the other often leads to jealousy, or a feeling of being short changed. Sometimes, it even leads to  begrudging attitudes and undermining  behaviors.

This, of course, is not what God wants of us, and it is important that we remember we are one body, the body of Christ. As such, we each have gifts that need to be recognized and encouraged. As God’s people, we must do our utmost to bring the light of Christ into the world. I would encourage each of you, as we begin this new church year, to make a determined effort to focus on the other, not in comparison, but in thankfulness and gratitude. This is what St. Paul is doing in his letter to the Christian community at Corinth, and he is reminding us to do like wise in our own communities today.


We all know that a kind word of thankfulness, appreciation, or praise goes a long way in bolstering our own sprits and determination. It is important to us that others appreciate who we are, and what we are doing. This, of course, is true for others, as well. As a Christian community, we need to foster a spirit of thankfulness for one another. And, it all starts with each of us looking around, getting outside ourselves, and being cognizant of who shares community with us. The next step is to begin acknowledging, encouraging, thanking and praising. 

As we Light each candle on our advent wreath this year, let us give thanks for the light that each of us sheds in a world that at times seems very, very, dark. But no matter how dark things seems to be, let us remember Jesus’ promise that the light will overcome the darkness. The Kingdom of God is indeed near, so let us encourage one another in our efforts to be faithful to our calling to bring light into the world. 

The Bishop’s of the United States made a statement in 1981 when speaking of Heath and Health Care. When I first read it, I thought of advent, as the statement hopefully reminded me that the Lord has gifted us to bring light to the darkness, and that a new day awaits us:

“Because we believe in the dignity of the person, we must embrace every chance to help and to liberate, to heal the wounded world as Jesus taught us. Our hands must be the strong but gentle hands of Christ, reaching out in mercy and justice, touching individual persons, but also touching the social conditions that hinder the wholeness which is God’s desire for humanity.”

Let us inspire wholeness in one another this year, by recognizing and encouraging each other’s giftedness, and praising God with thankful hearts.

Note: We are presently celebrating the Jubilee in honor of St. Paul. (Pope Benedict officially announced that the Church will dedicate “a special jubilee year to the Apostle Paul from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009, for the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of his birth, which historians place between 7 and 10 AD.”) As we begin this New Church year, I have chosen the second reading from St. Paul (1Corinthinns 1:3-9) to be my inspiration for this first Sunday of Advent homily.

Note: I rarely present homilies as written. I provide them here in the hope that there might be a thought or idea that will inspire.


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