Message: Let's not live like tourists getting upset when things don't go our way. Let's become pilgrims.
Today we have the second homily in our Advent series on Resisting Happiness. We have seen that God made us for happiness, but we resist. We turn from things that would lead to real happiness and go for things that bring some kind of immediate satisfaction. In doing so we wind up creating misery for ourselves and those close to us. To make the point I used fairly obvious examples like drugs, alcohol, illicit affairs. St. Paul talks about more subtle traps: factions, rivalries, party spirit, bursts of anger. Those things bring a kind of immediate pleasure, but then long term sadness. Still they can grip on a person and make him resist real happiness.
This series asks how we can overcome resistance to happiness. Our readings today describe something of great importance - having a goal. Not simply drifting but having a goal that matters. Isaiah describes the "day" that awaits us - the day of reconciliation, healing and justice. Jesus tells us that ultimate justice will happen as his kingdom arrives. For that reason we pray, "Thy kingdom come."
If we have a goal - Jesus' kingdom - then life changes. It becomes a pilgrimage - a journey to a goal. That's what I propose for this homily: that our lives become a pilgrimage. You know, there's a big difference between a pilgrim and tourist.
In his book "Resisting Happiness" Matthew Kelly says, "Tourists want everything to go exactly as they have planned and imagined it...Tourists get upset if there are delays. They demand prompt attention and service to their every need and desire. They focus on themselves, often shoving past others to get where they want to go. Tourists go sightseeing. Tourists count the cost.
"Pilgrims are very different. They look for signs. If a flight gets delayed or cancelled they ask, 'What is God trying to say to me?'...Pilgrims are aware of the needs of others. Pilgrims go looking for meaning. Pilgrims count their blessings."
When our World Youth Day group went to Poland, our bus broke down stranding us at a service station with no working bathrooms. As it turned out we celebrated an open air Mass and it bound us together in a beautiful way. Although we did much preparation to visit the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, we never got there. But Auschwitz was not our goal. Our goal was to recognize the radical need for God that we share with every human: That only in Jesus, his kingdom, will we have reconciliation, healing and justice.
So let's not live like tourists getting upset when things don't go our way. Let's become pilgrims. Like St. Paul to ask the "God of endurance' to give us what we need to continue on. I'd like to conclude with "A Pilgrim's Prayer" by Thomas Merton. I put the whole prayer in the bulletin. Here is key part:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.... You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem lost in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.Amen.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.... Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you, does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem lost in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone
From Archives (Second Sunday of Advent, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Bishop Bob Barron's Homilies
Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru
Review of Roe