"Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. (Luke 2:3)"
This week I discovered that elves are taking over Christmas. On my day off, I started looking at all the pictures my sister had posted on Facebook about how elves had taken over her home to make sure that my nephews were behaving before Christmas. Every night they report back to Santa who's been naughty and who's been nice as well as decorate the house or do something crazy while the children sleep. As I was looking over her picture (there was a new one posted every morning), I started noticing that a lot of our friends were doing the same thing and that apparently Miami has been overrun by elves! Now, while I enjoy all the beauty and the wonder of Santa and the beautiful traditions that we have during this time of year that capture a child's imagination as it did mine once upon a time, I did notice that none of the elves were preparing for the birth of Jesus. So I took to Facebook to point that out. My sister and I had a good discussion about it because she likes to keep the same Advent/Christmas traditions that my mother kept, but when she saw me complaining about the elves, she jokingly posted on Facebook: "You're being a grinch." To which I replied: "No, I'm being a priest" because everything during this blessed season should point to Jesus. Even little elves. The marvel of social media is that everyone could see the discussion I was having with my sister and others which was good because it got my point across. The next morning everyone was sending me pictures of how the elves woke up by the nativity scene in the house or by the Advent wreath. If an elf can make a child ask a questions about Jesus then why not? Everything we do should point to Christ
On this Second Sunday of Advent, we are presented with the figure of John the Baptist. Here was a man who spent his entire life pointing to Christ even while in his mother's womb. He is the one who deflected attention away from himself by saying that he should decrease so that Christ could increase. His words, his actions, and his martyrdom pointed to Jesus Christ. As you look around your homes this Advent season, ask yourself if all those decorations are pointing to Christ. Some might finds this figure cheesy, but I've always bee transfixed by the little figurine of Santa kneeling before the newborn Christ. Why? Because my mother had it in our house when I was a kid, and it hammered the point home to me that even the big red man himself knelt before this child because after all Jesus IS the reason for the season.
I have spent much of this past week meditating on how everything we do must point to Jesus. Even in the menial actions of our every day life, we must point to Him. I was also meditating upon this as it related to the Mass when one of our seminarians sent me this quote from Pope Benedict XVI: "If the centrality of Christ does not emerge in the celebration, then it is not a Christian liturgy!" If everything we do points to Jesus, then we will begin to see the Divine in everything around us or begin to transform everything around us to point to the Divine.
I write this homily, which I preached last night to the team, while sitting in my hotel room in San Francisco. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the United States with its amazing architecture and beautiful vistas. I spent my day yesterday touring all the important tourist stops in the city, but nothing beat the sunset I saw over the Pacific Ocean. That in and of itself pointed directly to God. It was in a place to the west of the city right on the Pacific called Cliff House. The beach starts right there as the cliffs give way to the dark sand of the west coast , and as you gaze off towards the ocean, there are these two rocks formations that rise out of the water. The currents bring the waves crashing up against these rocks in so many directions that it creates a symphony of the sounds of nature unlike anything I've ever heard. That was my soundtrack as I watched the sunset on what was a truly beautiful fog-less day in the city by the bay. I have seen many sunsets in the Florida Keys and the Gulf Coast, but for me there has always been something special about wanting to see the sun set on the Pacific Ocean. Maybe because I know that there isn't any land beyond the horizon for thousands of miles or maybe it's because Andy Dufresne painted such a magical picture of the beautiful blue of the Pacific in the "The Shawshank Redemption." It was even more beautiful than what Andy described to Red. Why? Because everything around me, including my parents who I was blessed to have with me, pointed to God. Only God could create something this beautiful and this wondrous. But even that sunset pales in comparison to the masterpiece he created on that night in Bethlehem that we are preparing to celebrate. May we be able to see the hand of God all around us this Advent season, and let everything we do and everything that surrounds us point to Jesus Christ.