Homily - (1 John 1:5 – 2:2; Psalm 27; John 12:31-36)
Light is not only a common theme in all our readings today, but light is also a great symbol for us on our Advent journey. We come to our Advent reconciliation service this evening as a part of our preparation for the birth of Christ in our world. Perhaps a good image for us this evening is the lighting of the candles on Advent wreath as we mark the passing of days during this season of preparation. When we reach Christmas, we will see lights displayed everywhere – we already see lights down our streets here in Yazoo City, in the windows of businesses and on our community Christmas tree. These Christmas lights represent the reality that X was born as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem in order to be the light of the world.
I spent 3 years living up in Canada as a missionary and 4 years in Wisconsin as a seminarian. Up north, during the winter months, it seems like it is dark and cold all of the time. With our mild climate here in Mississippi, we don’t experience the darkness and coldness so much during this time of year, although we have a few frosty days this year. I really appreciated how the people in Winnipeg loved the Christmas lights in the midst of the darkness of winter, reminding them that not only is Christ the light in the midst of that darkness, but that springtime would be here as well.
The light of Christ enters our lives when we are baptized; we are symbolically given a baptismal candle that is lit from the Easter candle to represent the light of Christ in our lives. At the Easter vigil mass, the entire Church is lit up with candles lit from that same Easter candle as a wonderful sign of the light of Christ we are called to be as the Church and as his followers. Do you remember all of our Easter candles lighting up the darkness of our church back in April? When we sin, when darkness comes into our lives; our relationships with God and with others are broken or strained. In those instances, the light of Christ is diminished in our lives. The Sacrament of Reconciliation that we are celebrating this evening helps us restore that light.
Advent is a time of preparation for us, but it is also a very busy time of the year. Students have exams coming up; we have many holiday activities and parties to attend. Most of us really look forward to the Advent & Christmas season, to the time we spend with family and friends. However, Advent is also a time when we can look at our life of faith in a fresh and new way. May we see Advent and the sacrament of reconciliation today as a holy time for us, a time where the light of Christ can be celebrated in our lives. May Christ be a light that will take away the darkness. May we feel the ways his light is presence to us.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us to keep faith in the light while we have the light, so that we may become sons & daughters of light. May the healing & grace we receive tonight reinforce our identity as sons and daughters of the light. May we bring this light to others.