Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Expectations
Charles Dickens wrote of "Great Expectations"; Alexander Pope wrote "Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed!" Human experience reveals a little bit of truth in either opinion. The whole history of Judaic-Christian culture is built on "expectation" - the coming of the Messiah, the One who saves, the Anointed One, the Christ" to be followed, in due course, by the Second Coming, the Judgement. Today's readings deal with this sense of expectation.

Baruch 5:1-9 states, in very poetic language, that the exiled Jewish people will return to their holy city, Jerusalem, led by their God, to enjoy a new era of prosperity and peace.

Phil. 1:3-6, 8-11: After expressing his deep feeling of affection for them, Paul invites them to an even higher standard of Christian discipleship. There is no limit to what he expects of them.

Luke 3:1-6 uses the ministry of John the Baptist as a platform from which to write of the ministry of Christ. Both ministries speak of a monumental turning point in the lives of people presenting them with opportunity , urgency and expectation. "Prepare a way for the Lord".

Point 1: In the average human experience, there are many different responses; but two are common to every person - that of expectation and loneliness. Loneliness is generally brought on by reality falling short of one's expectations. So much of our lives are spent in waiting - as children we wait to be fed; we wait to commence school; we wait to gain our independence and to commence earning; husbands and wives wait for each others as much as on each other! As adults, we wait for the big opportunity, the big promotion that is going to match our abilities and let us lead the "lotto" life! But it hardly ever happens!

Point 2: That is when we experience the second response - loneliness arising from unfulfilled expectations. Most of us are familiar with physical loneliness which grips us when someone we love is absent; the dull ache of "homesickness" when we are missing family and friends. This type of loneliness is easily explained. But there is another type of loneliness that affects many of us - "psychic" or "spiritual" loneliness. This type of loneliness can possess a person even though, to all intents and purposes, he has everything. Despite, the "lotto" life, he is still dissatisfied.

Conclusion: This type is not so easily dealt with. Give any other animal food, warmth, shelter and companionship, and it is satisfied. The non-human animal is satisfied when its basic needs are met. Not so the human. We continue to quest. The question is - what is missing? Is it something or Someone? The religious answer is "Someone". The finite can only be complete when it is associated with the Infinite. For the Christian, this association with the Infinite is achieved in Christ. As St. Augustine in his "Confessions" wrote - You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts can never rest until they rest in You". The Season of Advent is the Church's reminder of how we can meet this sense of expectancy and loneliness which is in our make-up. It is a time given to us to explore the depth of our longing; to ask 'who is the one we expect? For whom are we waiting?

Scriptural reference: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, and which we have looked on and touched with our hands concerning the word of life... this is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:1-5)