Readings (Year A):
Reflection: Getting our house in order
This gospel takes me back to a winter night years ago, when my family’s warm sleep was violently disrupted by horrific pounding and the smashing of glass. A thief in the night had entered, taking my laptop from my grandmother’s old table. That week that we found ourselves in need of somehow getting our household back in order.
So we decided to throw a party. We instructed our guests, family and friends to enter the window that that thief had come through. And of course, to celebrate, to eat, to drink, to be merry. But when they left, they had to take something from the pile on my grandmother’s table: something we wished the thief had taken.
In today’s Gospel we hear the urgency of Jesus as we begin our Advent adventure. Clearly, he wants us to get our houses in order. We could all think of things we need to let go of to get those houses ready.
Our scriptures give us a sense of larger households. When we hear words like Zion, the New Jerusalem, the Holy Mountain, these invite us to think about the city of God and reflect on the institutions and groups that we’re part of and care deeply about. For me, one of those institutions is our church.
A few weeks ago, we received a report from the Vatican outlining various themes that have emerged from the Synod process. Among the thousands of people who have participated all over the world consistent themes emerge, especially surrounding exclusion. These themes relate to the issues we need to deal with to get our house in order as a Church: racism, ageism, ableism, the desperate needs of the poor that continue to be neglected. One big issue that keeps showing up is the need to include women in the decision-making of the church.
These are hard issues to deal with.
But Francis has invited all of us, in the year ahead, to get together to discern and walk on the Synodal journey with our brother bishops. To figure out what the Holy Spirit’s got going on, and where we need to go.
I’m excited to go on this journey. But you and I know: we’re struggling as a church here in the United States, where we are caught up in culture wars, polarized and divided. And we’re being pretty hard on each other.
In order to go on this walk that Francis has invited us to take, we need to get our house in order.
I’d like to bring us back to the image of my grandmother’s table. I think there’s a party that waits for us, in the practice of our Sunday Eucharist. Somewhere there is a table nearby. This weekend, maybe we can get around it. Maybe we can meet there beyond our divisions or hurts to break bread, drink wine and be together.
And if we do this, we might as well leave the door open. Our God’s gonna bust in like a good thief in the night and take away all that stuff that divides us with his best party trick: to take away the sins of the world.
So, let’s leave our Advent lights on as we start this new year, because he’s coming to join us.