Second Sunday of Advent
December 8, 2019
Change. In a word, that’s what our readings today are all about.
Isaiah dreams of a BIG change!
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
And our Psalmist echoes the dream (Ps 72):
justice shall flourish, and the fullness of peace forever.
And in the gospel, there is insistence and urgency in John the Baptist’s message of change. A voice crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight his paths. Repent. Change your ways. Align yourself with God. Don’t delay or there will be dire consequences.
And, no one is exempt. For “God can raise up children of Abraham from these very stones.” Being a Jew didn’t make one special to John then, and being a Christian, a Catholic, even a devoutly practicing Christian—as many of you are—doesn’t exempt you from responding to John’s call to change today.
So, it is fitting that our theme for the new liturgical year is “Called to Change.” Beginning with the Liturgy Committee and then moving to Staff, Pastoral Council, Admin Council, and other key groups in the parish, all recognize that God is calling each of us, and the community of St. Charles as a whole, into significant change. A year from now, two years from now, we will look very different and we will be much different than we are today.
We have spent the last 18 months engaged in a project of creating a culture of calling (c3). We are now poised to respond to the call, to the beckoning, that God has in store for us.
We are preparing our campus, and our hearts, to welcome De La Salle North Catholic High School to join with us right here in mission and partnership. This will mean extraordinary change for us . . . and for them. I believe this is our call. And I believe there is insistence and urgency, not unlike what we hear in today’s Gospel, in responding to this call.
God’s call always means change, otherwise God wouldn’t bother. But it’s fair to ask: how do we know it’s God’s call? Four telltale characteristics. Responding to God’s call will likely:
grant you to think in harmony with one another.”
But, as I said, it means change and change isn’t easy. If we don’t embrace it as a call, we’ll likely resist it. We’ll give into that temptation to “rumorize” all the challenges and inconveniences, such as:
So, as we shed unneeded possessions, may we remember and be grateful that we have everything we need, and remember that we live right in the midst of so many who do not.
As we reduce our physical footprint, may we remember that wherever two or more of us are gathered, the Lord is also right there, and we’ll have all the room we need to respond to God’s call.
As we prepare this campus for renovation and construction, may we recognize that this is not the first time in our history that we have responded to the call to be transformed, and that our identity was only strengthened when . . . the parish moved from its original location to NE42nd and Killingsworth (1950), and when our sanctuary was transformed to reflect the communal nature of our worship (1986).
As we welcome the community of De La Salle North Catholic High School, may we recognize an extraordinary opportunity to not just have a school again—which is great, but also to witness to them how God has been present and active in the hallways and rooms of this campus for nearly 70 years, and in our lives for more than 100 years.
As we join in partnership and mission with them for the sake of families in the Cully neighborhood and throughout north and northeast Portland, may we recognize the urgency of need all around us and pledge to truly work together to respond to that need.
As we move into this exciting and terrifying future, may we have the courage to respond wholeheartedly to God’s call for us to align our work in the world with God’s work in the world.
This Advent, as we prepare our hearts to once again receive the Christ child, let us also prepare—as a whole community—to embrace the changes coming our way. We will, of course, always be St. Charles and carry the charism that has sustained us for more than 100 years: down to earth, care for neighbor, always welcoming, justice focused, peace-minded, charity driven. In fact, it is exactly these characteristics that will empower us to respond to the call to change.