Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent Homily - Fr Damian Feeney

During Advent a homily is given at each Mass. Texts, where available, will be published here in the coming days.

Why does the Father hide things from the learned and the clever, to be revealed instead to mere children? There is a strong sense in the Kingdom that roles are being reversed. It is to the ‘mere children’ that the sacred mysteries are being entrusted, not the learned and the clever. Making sense of that in a place like Oxford is an interesting conundrum; but the fact remains that twice in this morning’s gospel Jesus alludes to role reversal. The kingdom given to mere children; the truths which kings and prophets longed to see and hear, and did not, given to the ordinary, the poor. They do not deserve these things, any more than we deserve to be the recipients of them – they, and we, are the fortunate receivers of grace, because it pleases God. And notice that all this gives Jesus pleasure in the saying – he is ‘filled with joy.’

Luke carries as one of his overwhelming concerns this business of reversal. Jesus comes to disturb our security and complacency with the supreme challenge of his Good News. Are you powerful, rich, comfortable? Then you may expect to be brought down low. Are you poor, outcast, struggling? You will be raised up, restored, honoured and made whole. These are themes we first discover in the fiery theology of the Magnificat, early on in Luke’s Gospel, but it recurs again and again as a leitmotif.

Just over a week ago, on the Sunday before Advent, we asked God to ‘stir us up’ – more specifically, to ‘stir up the wills of your faithful people. Let’s be careful what we pray for, because we might get it. God may indeed stir up our wills, that we may not only sing Magnificat but want it as well – and delight, with Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, as he sees the comfortable order turned upside down, subverted by the sacrificial love of the kingdom of God, the kingdom for which we hope and long through this great gift of Advent, and which is brought closer still in this Mass.