One Step in Front of Another

1st Sunday of Advent | December 1, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons

So as many of you know, I had the opportunity to walk a portion of the Camino de Compostela in Spain this past summer.

    100 kilometers in 5 days.

And as many of you know, it actually went much better than I planned.  Seeing I did absolutely no training and avoid physical activity like the plague.


The first day was a bit of an exception.

See, we had begun our walk under the assumption that we would need to walk about 12 miles that first day.

So as we are approaching the 12-mile mark, we see this small cluster of buildings. I am so excited. We have made it, I tell myself. And not a moment too soon.

For the sun was really being to heat up and my entire body was feeling the effects of my utter lack of preparation.

But when we arrived at the first small shop, the shop owner broke the terrible news to us.

We still had about 2-3 miles.  Straight up. An endless hill with no respite in sight.

I must admit.  It was the closest I came to quitting.

    To just curling up on the floor of the shop and going to sleep.  

I didn’t want to do anymore walking. Especially not uphill.

    I was done.

But then Zach stood up and began walking.  Step by step. He didn’t say anything. He just began moving.

    And I followed.  One agonizing step at a time.  

    Until we reached the summit.  Until we finally hit our place of rest.

I couldn’t help but think of that scenario as I reflected on the readings for this weekend, the first weekend of Advent.

For when I hear that beautiful first reading, I still remember that feeling at the base of that final hill.

    For when we hear this promise of an idyllic mountain where weapons are beat into        plowshares, it seems unfathomable.  Unreachable.

    For this is not where we currently stand.

For when we look around at the darkness that surrounds us, we see the world as it is.

We see the broken pieces in our own lives and the broken systems that govern our world.

We have stood by the caskets of those cut down by war and violence, by disease and addiction, by suicide and accident.

We have held the broken-hearted after the break-up, the divorce, the abuse, the rejection, the failure, the layoff, the miscarriage

We have seen the weariness that comes from years of shouldering debt and responsibility, poverty and cynicism, fear and stress, mental health challenges and cycles of trauma

And suddenly we too face the temptation is to just curl up into this darkness and go to sleep. Avoiding another step. Avoiding the climb.

    For really, how are we ever going to reach the heights?  It is so unrealistic. Impossible.  

But this, my friends, is what Advent is all about.  This is why we walk this journey.  

For no, there is no magic switch that will transport us to the mountain top.  We can’t simply plug in a million Christmas lights and make the darkness disappear.

On the contrary, we will only reach the summit through placing one step in front of another.

    Following in the footsteps of the Christ who walked before us.  Who gave his life to        bringing us closer to the mountain top.

Following in the footsteps of our sisters and brothers who have served as our mentors, models, guiding lights along the way.

    Inviting us to do the same.

For every time that we become a source of light, we dispel the darkness.  Every time we become an instrument of justice we hold the injustices at bay.  Every time we forgive or reconcile, we unleash a spring of healing into the desert.  And every time we love, we banish the hatred in that moment.  

So keep climbing my friends.  And never lose hope.

For the mountaintop awaits us all.

May God be Praised.

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