FRIDAY HOMILY: Join the Dance
at this very point we need to remember the call of St. John the Baptist to repent.
Repentance is often misunderstood, thinking that we have to figuratively sit in dust, throwing dirt in the air while shouting , "woe is me."
Repentance ("metanoia" in the Greek) means "to change one's mind," "to change direction." As we are convicted of the sins in our life, we are called to accountability but one where we can jettison our junk and move in a new direction, living for Christ; participating in His dance!
How wonderful to go to Confession. Through the powerful sacrament we are able to truly let go of those things in the past which bind us and keep us from moving forward.
Straining forward to what lies ahead.
The image that St. Paul wants to create in this particular passage comes directly from the Olympic Games. The runner has trained hard to make sure every muscle is toned to the peak of perfection and that his body has learned how to make the most out of every stride.
Straining forward is not just about the body but the soul. We must be fixed on the race and committed to making this our major focus.
Nothing else matters. The past has been put aside, the future is found in the lane we run. This begins at the starting gate and doesn't end until we cross the finish line.
For the spiritual runner, we participate in the race through our times of prayer, reading, worship, and service. We are doing this not to get our name in the Church Bulletin but in the Book of Life.
I press on toward the goal.
The successful runner does not pay much attention to what is happening in the other lanes. He simply runs his race with his eyes fixed forward toward the finish line.
For many of us today, this is hard to do. We have so many distractions and not just from those running in other lanes with whom we compare ourselves. This diversion is bad enough, as we try to figure out who does more, who has more and who is more valuable. What a devastating way to live life.
We are also distracted by what we see on the sidelines - possessions, pay and power. All of these call to us and invite us to join in a different dance.
For those who want to run the race to the finish, there is only one goal: the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. As the apostle reminds us, the finish line is heaven and the beatific vision. Our desire is union with Christ for all eternity, to join His dance.
This Advent our Lord is reminding us not to be childish but childlike in our response. The latter characteristic brings humility and an opportunity to join in the dance of Christ. The former only brings futility, where we are left in our sins and to our own desires.
The writer of Hebrews leaves us with a great invitation as we seek to move forward. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb. 12:1-3)
Cast off those childish ways and join the dance!
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: commitment, Christ, Advent, confession, dance, Fr Randy Sly
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