HOMILY: Agents of Joy

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click hereSalesian Sermons

NOTE: This homily dovetails nicely with the NOOMA Advent Study theme for this week.

3rd Sunday of Advent | December 12/13, 2015

PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.

So I know this may come as a surprise, but I occasionally have a bad day.

Now, some people can have their bad days and no one really knows.  

Not me.  

See I have perfected the art of wearing my emotions on my sleeves.  I get that glare in my eyes, mouth gets set into a permanent grimace and I walk with that agitated gait that communicates “Stay away or else you may get hurt.”

Now, ordinarily, people try to avoid those of us who are having bad days.

But not my kids.

In fact, they never cease to amaze me in how they respond to my bad days.

It is like they have an emergency conference call and decide that they are going to unleash an avalanche of kindness that just has to snap me out of my bad mood.  

One will walk up to me and ask if I will read with him.  When I tell him that I am busy, his response is.  I understand Fr. Brian.  But if you need to get your mind off of things for a while, this book is really good!  Inevitably, I find myself sitting next to him reading about Harriet Tubman and forgetting about my troubles.

Another will purposefully walk into me in the hallway.  Annoyed I will be ready to respond, but he will always be quicker.  He will look at me and go, “Sorry, I didn’t see you. You were standing sideways.”  And I can’t help but laugh.

A third will stop by my office to remind me that Jesus calls us to forgive and that I should forgive his classmate for accidentally flooding the bathroom, forgetting his homework or yelling back to a teacher.  And I can’t help but remind myself that he is right.  

And still another will come up beside me, put his arm around my shoulder and tell me it will be ok.  And somehow I believe him.

Without fail, they are always there to be light in my darkness, to be perspective in my anxiety and fear, to be joy in my sorrow and in my frustration.  And they often don’t even know it.

I just couldn’t help but think about those moments as I heard the readings from this weekend, the third weekend of Advent.

For in those moments, my children were embodying the call of our readings for today.

The call to bring joy to birth in the world, through our own words.  Our own actions.  Our very lives.

The call to let our lives reflect what we believe.  So that in the world’s encounter with us, they will encounter the joy, the peace, the justice, the forgiveness, the love of our God.

It is a call that is answered by others every day.  Others who bring joy into our lives, often when it is most needed.

Our spouse who has the coffee brewing before they leave for work.

Our child who snuggles up beside us to listen to their favorite story before bedtime.

The barista who tops off our hot chocolate with an extra squirt of whipped cream

The woman in front of us in line who lets us use the coupon that we forgot at home.

The friend who texts us an inside joke that has us laughing in the middle of the office.

The colleague who leaves a card on our desk the day that we return from burying one that we love.

And in these small, quiet acts of love, these ordinary women and men are allowing us to experience the love of Christ in our own lives.  They are bringing to birth the one we seek.  The one we need to calm our fears, to still the storms, to heal the broken heart, to comfort the afflicted soul.

What a gift we have been given.

And as we have been gifted, so must we in turn go forth and gift others.

By responding to the call that so many others have answered on our behalf.

The call to be agents of joy this Advent season.

The call to do the dishes without being asked and the call to bake that special dessert for our college son who is coming home.

The call to genuinely thank the frazzled cashier trying to keep up with the unending stream of customers and the call to take the extra time to write a personal note on the Christmas cards we send.

The call to reach out to the sister who has been estranged for far too long and the call to greet the young mother whose infant was fussing throughout the mass and let her know how much it means that she is there with her child.

And in these moments.  These seemingly insignificant, inconsequential moments.

We too will be part of bringing Christ to birth.

So be the joy my friends.  Be the change.

Be the Christ that the world so desperately needs.

May God be Praised.

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3 Replies to “HOMILY: Agents of Joy”

  1. Yesterday, one of the preschoolers was nudgey during a band concert at our school. At first, I was telling him to sit still and stop fidgeting. Then I went and sat next to him. He leaned on my shoulder. I asked, “You’re really tired, aren’t you?” He snuggled up and shook his head. I felt such joy that the Holy Spirit of God intervened for me when I was getting grouchy, and showed me that there was another way to handle the situation. Praise Him.

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