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December 9, 2018 - Homily


            What do you give someone who has everything?  As Christmas fast approaches, that most difficult question plagues many a last minute shopper.  We all have someone in our lives who simply has everything that he or she could reasonably want.  Closets full of clothes, entertainment cabinets full of DVD’s, computers, cell phones, cameras, all state of the art.  What do you get someone like that?  Sure, you could take the easy out and just give them money, or go practical and get them gift cards, but where’s the fun in that?  And we all know that the best gifts are the ones that really mean something, the ones that show that we’ve really thought about it and invested ourselves in it, not just our money.  And so the question remains, what do you give someone who has everything?

             Of course, when we ask that question, we mean it as a figure of speech; no one really has everything.  Well, almost no one.  We all know one someone who truly has everything.  He makes everything and holds everything in existence.  He needs nothing and is complete and perfect in every way, all of which takes our figurative question to a whole new level: what do you give God, who literally has everything?

             On one hand, that question might seem easy.  God only has one thing on his Christmas list, and we don’t need to go to the mall or run up our credit cards or spend hours standing in line for it.  But that one thing, as easy as it is to get a hold of, is the hardest thing in the world to give away: ourselves.  God, who has everything, more than anything, wants only one thing.  He wants us, completely, without reservation, and he gives himself to us completely to get us, in his son, Jesus Christ.

             But how does God want us?  How do we want the gifts given to us?  Would we appreciate a gift that is broken, defective, or stained?  Absolutely not.  We would take it back and demand a refund or at least exchange it.  God doesn’t want us broken, or defective, or stained either.  He wants us to give ourselves to him “pure and blameless…filled with the fruit of righteousness,” not sin, as we hear in today’s second reading. 

             Thankfully God once again gives us what we need to make that type of self-gift possible by giving us the gift of Advent, a time of repentance and preparation, as we hear in today’s Gospel.  If we want to give ourselves to God free of any brokenness or stain of sin, a gift worthy of our God, we would do well to take advantage of this time, through prayer and self-denial, but in particular through the sacrament of penance.  While we certainly can and should celebrate the sacrament throughout the year, it seems appropriate to do so in a special way during Advent, to take stock of our lives over the past year, to see where we are broken and in need of healing or stained and in need of cleansing, and to receive the life saving grace Christ offers us in confession, preparing us to give ourselves to God in ever greater ways in the year to come.

             Take the time this Advent to prepare a worthy gift for God by celebrating the sacrament of penance.  Then give God what he really wants this year, the one thing, and only thing, he has ever wanted…yourself.        

Fr. Marc Stockton


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