Saturday, December 18, 2010

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent: Ask for a Sign/Ask for His Son

The Greatest Sign is His Son
Today’s readings are filled with wonder, signs, prophecies, dreams. We have to get into this kind of mode to be able and try and grasp what God is doing here as we enter the Fourth Sunday of Advent, just a week before Christmas.

I was with a family whose father died and the daughter told me about a sign that she received. It was Monday when we had all that snow and blustery wind and she saw a bird just struggling to get to a tree and when it finally landed it brought her such a great sense of peace and hope. She looked closely and discovered that it looked like a dove. She asked her daughter to look it up online to see if that’s what it really was. For the first time after her father dying she finally felt some peace. She began telling her and brothers and sisters about this Dove. As she’s telling me this story she had to hold back the tears. Her brother then joked that he went to take a shower this morning and was out of soap so he went to the closet and pulled out a bar of dove soap. He was really not joking. He said I don’t use Dove soap, but for some reason this is what was in the closet.

I think at different points in our lives we do ask God for signs either for direction, confirmation, or for a surety of his presence. I remember when I was thinking about becoming a priest I said “God I’ll do this, I’ll give up everything and follow you, but you need to give me some sign and make this clear for me that this is what you want me to do.” He did in many ways.
So use your imagination for a moment. If you could ask God for a sign, any sign, what would you ask him for?

Got it?

Now think bigger…

…think more…
…think eternally.

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!

God is basically telling Ahaz, ask me for anything you want. “Let it be deep as the netherworld”, there’s no depth I wont go to meet you, there’s no sin I can’t save you from. Or “High as the sky!” You can’t dream too big! But Ahaz balks at this… and reacts with a false humility… “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” Well come on, the Lord just told you to ask for a sign!
So what if God told you this: If you could ask God for any sign, what would you ask him for? Would it be something miraculous or fascinating? Would it help you believe in God? …For how long? Would you ever doubt again? Chances are that sign wouldn’t hold up over time.
Ultimately, God gives a sign beyond anything we could hope or imagine or expect. And it is a sign that is mysterious and eternal and always present.

The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

What if you asked for God to be present to you, to be real to you, to be known and seen by you? What if you asked him to show himself to you and be with you always? What for all of this and more?

You would have a wonderful sign and that sign is His Son, Jesus. The most powerful sign that we could ever ask for… God, can you become one of us. Can you become a person and tell us everything about you. Are we open to receiving the signs that God gives us, are we open to receiving the communications and responding? Are we open to receiving the only sign we need, His Son.

We have God with us. What more could we ever want from God? What sign could ever be better then having him here in the flesh? In the Sacraments we experience this great eternal mystery. Every Sunday Christ is present in the Word, the Gathered Assembly, The Priest, and the Eucharist. This week you will have numerous opportunities to speak to him and hear his voice in the Sacrament of Confession. If you are married Sacramentally he’s present in the love that you experience with your spouse. He’s present as the water is poured over the children that will be baptized today.

God invited Ahaz to experience His wonderful signs, but Ahaz was too hard headed and hard hearted to be open to it. Fortunately for us Joseph wasn’t. What about you? Is your mind open enough to experience Him and your heart soft enough to feel him? The greatest sign we could ever have of God’s love for us and presence in our lives is Jesus who we experience in Word and Sacrament.

So we really don’t really need to worry about what sign to ask for. We don’t need to ask God for a sign, we need to ask God for his Son. Jesus is the greatest wonder, the greatest sign, the greatest prophecy fulfilled. Ask God not for any sign, ask God for His Son and you will experience something more wonderful than you could ever imagine this Christmas.

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