Making The Rough Places Smooth : Rev. Judy’s Homily for Advent 2-Dec. 6, 2015
This is Jackie Allen Ducote and Rev. Judy Beaumont,RCWP in front of The Catholic Worker House in Hartford, CT. Both women have given their lives for peace and working for peace through justice.
Making the Rough Road Smooth: Rev. Judy’s Homily Second Sunday of Advent-Dec. 6, 2015
Advent is, above all, a time of hope. As we wait once again for the coming of Christ who is here and yet coming anew at Christ-mas, we wrestle with experiencing the world as it is with all of its uneven-ness. Some folks, theologians included, are like ostriches who flatten out, stretch their long necks, stick their heads in the sand and lie low to the ground when threatened. In the midst of great evil around them, they lay low and “see” only good as if they can will it to be so. This is simply the opposite of those who saw only sin and evil in the past and neither view has a hold on truth as revealed in the life of Christ, in the scriptures and in the lives of the faithful. The truth is that our world is full of good, but also full of what is downright evil. We cannot pretend otherwise. We can see and feel its great beauty, goodness, order, life-giving medicine and knowledge, and the existence of real kindness and the faithful lives of those who live in love and justice. We have all been blessed by those faithful lives. At the same time we witness all around us great disorder including the disorder in its people, greed, hatred, conflict, terrorism, seemingly unmitigated human need, the worst kinds of violence and war. In our ministry in particular we witness a good deal of violence both corporal and spiritual, including the great unjust disparity in income, opportunities and basics like housing and health care in a land of abundance. We long for the dismal second picture of life as it is here and now to disappear and the first picture of a good world with justice for all and compassionate people to prevail. We long for peace and justice to be the order of the day.
These are Roman Catholic Women Priests Rev. Eda Lorello of LI, New York and Rev. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia of Cali, Colombia who have given their lives to work for peace through justice
On this second Sunday of Advent we light the candle of peace. Our readings for the day are beautiful and they give us hope that we can, and must, contribute to the peace that surely must come. But to do that we must prepare our hearts and lives in a different way. We must clean out the debris, self-absorption and cynicism caused in part, by our own tough life experiences and join with God in making the rough roads smooth once again. “I know the road can be horribly rough, have hope, I’ve got your back, get your own life in order and work for the reign of God-it will come”: that is the message of the prophet Baruch (5:1-9) and the encouragement of Paul (Philippians 1:4-6;8-11) and the teaching of John the Baptist (and Isaiah 40:3-5) that we are given today (Luke 3:1-6). “The twisted paths will be made straight and the rough road smooth- And all humankind will see the salvation of God” (Luke 3: 6).
The Psalmist (Ps. 126) tells us that “those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy” –that God will restore us- as nations, communities, families and individuals from the greatest devastations we have endured. Baruch tells Jerusalem, “take off your robe of misery and mourning; you will wear God’s glorious splendor forever” (5:1). This message is for the nation of Israel and for all of God’s people. When we think of what the nation of Israel and those in the Jewish diaspora have endured throughout ancient and modern history and right now with enemies with nuclear power right at its door, we marvel at God’s promise of comfort and restoration. And too, we look at the pain and rough roads in the lives of those we love, and in our own lives. We cannot turn our heads from this and speak in simplicity of God’s presence in all. For God is NOT in the evil that devastates LIFE. Not at all. But we can acknowledge God’s abiding love and hope for all of creation. In our readings today, God knows the hurt that has been and is endured, yet the hope of both peace and joy are offered. Once again, it is a message of hope. In these readings we, and the nation of Israel and all of God’s people are encouraged not to pretend that pain and suffering do not exist but that where suffering and evil do exist and have taken their toll, and where the playing field is anything but equal, God is there to even it out and to restore. Blessed renewal, blessed restoration!
These are members of our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers who work for peace through justice, including our blessed Doctor Teresa Sievers (in back of her daughter Josie playing the violin) who was brutally killed in her home in June 2015. Dr. Teresa worked for justice by seeing our people who had no medical coverage pro bono as needed and also service to other community agencies. Her family is in our prayers.
Like John the Baptist we are to “prepare the way for our God” to “clear a straight path”. John prepared the way for Jesus by asking that people look at their lives and turn them around, to think again, to take stock of and repent-and yes, to ask forgiveness of sin as needed. And, we all need it. In essence we are asked to make the rough road smooth, even the road within us that has taken one to many a devious turn under the pressures of life. But we are asked to do this not for personal and solitary salvation but so we can participate with God in creating a truly good world where love and justice, mercy and forgiveness reign. Clearly, that world is not here yet, we must straighten the path and smooth the rough ways to create it.
Paul encourages and prays for the church at Philippi to have “your love abound more and more, both in understanding and in wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter, up to the very day of Christ….to be rich in the harvest of justice that Jesus Christ has ripened in you, to the glory and praise of God (Phil 1: 8-11). Verse 11 reads variously in translation as “to be rich in” or “filled with” “the fruit of holiness”, fruits of righteousness” and “harvest of justice”. The Inclusive Bible (TIB) by the Priests for Equality has the latter translation. I think it is closest to Paul’s notion of the process of Christ ripening the fruit within us, and the essence of today’s readings: Baruch 5:2 says as God restores God’s people (Israel) “God will call your name forever Peace in Justice” (Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral edition-Claretian Publications) or Peace through Justice (TIB). Indeed, I agree that “the things that really matter” are to get our lives in order so that our love abounds and we work for peace through working for justice. Justice work, the work of mercy, levels the playing field so that all have a chance to live abundantly. Then we have justification for the hope of ultimate joy and peace: “for God is leading Israel in joy by the light of divine glory, escorted by mercy and justice” (Baruch 5:9).
Judy Alves, JD, serving food to our children, living justice and Donnie and Lauretta enjoying the friendship found in the Good Shepherd Community as we seek justice and peace together.
May God lead us to the Christ who will ripen such holiness, pursuit of justice and mercy, in us helping us to make the rough places smooth this advent.
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community Fort Myers, Florida