HOMILY – ADVENT 1 [B] – 2017

If there is anything certain in life it is that nothing stays the same.  And the only certain thing about change is that it’s rarely easy.  We like what we’re comfortable with; we prefer to hold on to what’s familiar.  We’ve had a change of government; since Friday we are officially in Summer, and in worship we have changed to the season of Advent.  We Catholics have been experiencing change over the last 50 years at a greater rate than ever before – in the way we relate to other Christians and, more recently – with changes in the words of the Mass, the resignation of a Pope and the election of the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere who, in four years has made unprecedented and good changes to the public image of the Church.  And now, this weekend, we start preparing for a change in our own parish leadership.

Change and life go hand in hand; always have, always will.  We feel it more acutely though when we find ourselves in the middle of it – and that’s exactly where we are.  In our country and in much of the so-called Western world there just aren’t enough priests to go around.  Yet, the Eucharist is our “bread and butter”; we can’t live without it. Perhaps we’ve had it too easy and are not equipped to cope when our multiple choices are suddenly reduced.

A change in Fiona’s family circumstances is forcing her to step aside from her role with us as Lay Pastoral Leader at the end of January.  I shall greatly miss her, and so will those of you who have witnessed her involvement in parish and school management these last few months.  My own personal circumstances are also changing and I accept that the administration side of parish life is demanding more than I can give.  As outlined in today’s newsletter, the time has come to prepare for new leadership at Sacred Heart. This will require patience, understanding and good will – from me, from all of us.

These same qualities for the basis for the season of Advent.  Today’s readings guide us into the advent season with indications that our approach to Christmas needs to be accompanied by change – a change of heart, a change of pace – if we’re to gain any value from the celebration.  Recognizing our dependence on God, as the clay needs the hands of the potter; acknowledging our need of one another, from an awareness that none of us can find happiness alone; knowing that we must wait for the Lord, so difficult in an age that expects and demands instant replies to electronic messaging, and instant solutions to problems.  All this signals that change is unavoidable if I am not to be swamped and battered by my own pride that requires me to be independent, self-sufficient, needing no one.

While Fiona will leave us at the end of January, my own situation will probably not change till mid-year.  Hopefully we will have another Lay Pastoral Leader early in the year and my transition to what is more appropriate to priestly ministry as opposed to administration will not greatly impact on your pastoral care.

As you and I adjust to these changes, my prayer is that we will give priority to sensitivity and respect – along with patience, understanding and good will – recognizing that this is exactly the way we should approach Christmas – sensitivity and respect – not because a baby is born in a manger but because God chooses to come among us as one of us; the Potter coming to breathe life into the clay: and bringing about the greatest change of all!