Sunday, December 12, 2010
Right Before the Son Appears
Homily from the 3rd Sunday in Advent (Gaudete Sunday) - Year A
One weekday morning, a couple of weeks ago I was greeting our students as they arrived for school. And on this particular morning, the sky was filled with brilliant colors as the sun was about to rise. On the western horizon the sky was still pitch black. But as you looked across the sky and moved your eyes to the east, the blackness of night gave way to a deep violet.
And with every passing minute, the heavens turned brighter and more brilliant; richer and richer in vivid shades of purple. Huge, white, puffy clouds accented the sky and drew out more and more shades of that wonderful pre-dawn color.
And as the students were walking into school, I’d pull one or two aside and say “Look at that beautiful sunrise. Tell me there isn't a God!” It was wonderful to watch them just enjoy the sunrise for a moment. A few of them said their parents pointed it out to them as well.
And right before the sun peaked over the horizon, everything turned a beautiful rose color. And it was one of those moments you wish would last forever.
The black night of our sin gives way to the beautiful violet of our Advent waiting and preparation. And as we get closer and closer to Christmas in which we celebrate Christ’s coming in history, we also get closer and closer to the end of time when Christ will come in majesty.
And right before the Son (S-O-N) appears, everything turns a beautiful rose color . We light the rose-colored candle on our advent wreath and wear rose-colored vestments.
Ordinarily, we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th. But Sundays always trump feast days so the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe was moved to yesterday. However, I think it would be OK to talk about Our Lady of Guadalupe a little bit.
I’m sure many of you know the story. In 1531, Mary appeared four times to a poor farmer named Juan Diego. And she asked Juan Diego to go ask the bishop to build a church on the mountain where she appeared. Juan Diego said the bishop would not listen to a simple man like him, so Mary told Juan Diego to go pick some Castilian roses which were growing on the mountain. These roses would be a miraculous sign to the bishop because they were native to his birthplace in Spain, but not in Mexico, and also because they never bloom in December.
Our beautiful mosaic of Mary is a reproduction of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In that image, Mary wears a sash around her waist. This is no ordinary sash, but specifically, a sash that, in Mexican culture, expectant mothers wear.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is with child. So as we look at her, we see not only Mary, but also Jesus who is present in the image as well. A baby, hidden in the womb, not yet seen by our eyes, but just around the corner, just over the horizon.
And this infant Jesus, who is present within Mary’s womb, who is, in a sense, already here, but not quite yet, rests, hidden beneath Mary’s rose-colored inner garment, which breaks through the violet of her outer garment.
On that violet outer garment are displayed the stars of night. The forthcoming birth of the Messiah pierces the dark of night. And behind Our Lady of Guadalupe we see the rays of the sun. A sun which is not yet fully revealed, but we know is there. Just as the Son within her womb, is not yet fully revealed, but we know is there and is on the way.
This connection between Our Lady of Guadalupe and Gaudete Sunday is not designed, or given to us, by the Church. They don’t always fall on the same day. Plus, the sun Mary is standing in front of represents Mary blocking out the sun which was an object of pagan worship at the time; instead Mary shows us the real Son to worship, her Son Jesus.
But nevertheless, both Gaudete Sunday and Our Lady of Guadalupe reveal to us today that Jesus is indeed on his way. Not just at Christmas, but also at the end of our time here on this earth, which is sooner than we think.
The day of our departing and the Lord’s coming is unknown to us; not yet seen with our eyes, but it is just around the corner... just over the horizon.
Let us not fear or dread that day. But prepare and rejoice!