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Homily for Fourth Sunday of Advent Dec. 18-19, 2010

posted Dec 19, 2010, 10:04 AM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

Fourth Sunday of Advent

St. Mary's, Huntingburg

December 18-19, 2010



                In today's Old Testament reading from the Prophet Isaiah, we're introduced to Ahaz, the wicked King of Judah.

Ahaz was a "wicked" king because he was an idolater ... Ahaz worshipped foreign gods together with the God of Israel ... and of course, you can't worship other gods "together with" the God of Israel ... because the God of Israel is a jealous God ... and more, as we all know today, there really is no "other" god.


                And now, as our story today opens, Ahaz and the kingdom of Judah are in trouble.

They're in trouble because the kingdoms around them are on the verge of attacking them ... and the king and all of the people with him are afraid.

And Ahaz is thinking about his options ... thinking about making an alliance with that kingdom against those other kingdoms ... or maybe not ... maybe this ... maybe that ..


                And it's in this context that God sends the prophet Isaiah to Ahaz ...

God sends the Prophet Isaiah and says to Ahaz; "Look. Calm down. Stop worrying. Forget the alliances with this one or that one.

Forget all that ... and just trust.  

Just trust in me ...

... in fact," God says to Ahaz, "to show you that I'm worthy of your trust, just ask for a sign ... and I'll give it you ... (something that we know God doesn't usually do).


                But, surprisingly, Ahaz turns God down flat.

"No, thanks."

Oh, Ahaz makes it sound all pious "Oh, no, I won't tempt the Lord. No, I wouldn't ask for a sign."

But, in the end, the meaning is clear: "I won't trust in God. I'll do it on my own. I'll do it my way. I'll make my alliances. I'll do my thing. I'll figure it out."

Ahaz turns God down.

He refuses to trust.


                Can you imagine anything so foolish ... so totally ridiculous ... Ahaz refuses to trust in Almighty God?

Maybe Ahaz doesn't think that God can deliver .. . he's not so sure ... he's not willing to put all his eggs in that basket ...

Or maybe ...  Ahaz doesn't like the consequences of God delivering ... ya know ... if God is God ... and he can deliver on what he promises ... why then Ahaz would have to stop worshipping those other gods ... he'd have to start doing what the God of Israel told him to do ... live according to the law of God ... and he'd have to trust ... even when there is no sign from God at the moment ...


                And so, ol' Ahaz says to Almighty God: "Thanks, but no thanks."

"I'm gonna make it on my own. I am NOT going to trust."


                Well, we know, of course, that Ahaz is us.

Ahaz is you ... and ol' Ahaz is me.

Because in our daily lives, we don't really want to trust either.

When we face troubles and problems and difficulties ... we don't want to trust God ... we want to do this and that ... try this and that ... "makes alliances" with this one and that one ... but we don't want to have to trust.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't do what we can on our own ... get the best help we can get ... but I am saying that, if in the midst of all that we can do, we still don't have peace, it's because we aren't trusting ... the emphasis is all on what we can doing ... and not enough of our attention is on trusting in what God can do.

And, in those times, when sadly it turns out that our best just isn't going to be enough ... we certainly don't want to trust that God's got a plan ... that God is going to work it out ...  that God is going to bring good out of this ... even if it seems that it's all a hopeless disaster ...

We certainly don't want to trust then ... so we get angry or bitter or frustrated or we lose whatever faith we thought we had ...


                You and I are Ahaz ... Ahaz is us.

We don't want to trust God either ... because part of us really doesn't want to change our ways ...

Yeah, we want God to solve this problem right in front of us ... but we don't really want to give up some of the "other gods" that we're worshipping ... false gods like success and "getting ahead" ... money, pleasure, leisure, fun ... or whatever ...

We don't want to give up on the Big Fat False God that goes by the name ME ...

We kinda like those other gods .. . we like what they can do for us sometimes ... and we like what they let us do ...

We don't want to trust the only God that is worthy of our trust ... the only God that there is ... because part of us doesn't want to live like he wants us to live ... at least not completely ... not all that seriously ... well, not in this little area ... not at every moment.


                But, ya know what?

God said to ol' Ahaz: "OK, you don't want a sign ... you don't want a sign that I'm worthy of your trust ... but I'm gonna give you one anyway.

I'm going to give you a sign .. and the sign is this:

"The virgin shall conceive ... and bear a son ... and shall name him Emmanuel" (a name that means "God is with us.")

God is going to give a sign anyway.

                And God has given that same sign to us ... and we're getting ready to celebrate it one week from today ... "Behold, the  virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel (a name that means "God is with us.")

Jesus Christ  ...  born in the manger  ... the Son of God born in human flesh ... is the sign that "God is with us."

Jesus Christ .... his birth ... his life, death, and resurrection from the dead ... Jesus Christ is the sure, definitive, ultimate sign that God is with us ... that God is with us always ... that God is with us in each and every situation ... that is God with us, no matter what ...

When bad things happen, when the problems pile up, when we've tried everything that we know ...  when death is a heartbeat away  ... we know that "God is with us" ... God is with me  ... and so I will trust.

When life is good, when things are going my way, when everything is coming up roses ... we know that it's because "God is with us" ... God is with me ... and so I will give humble thanks.

When the world around me tries to cast its spell ... when voices try to entice me to what is false or unworthy ... when I'm tempted to follow any path that is not of God ... I will say to myself "God is with us" ... God is with me ... God is calling me to himself ... and I will follow him ...

And when we fall ... when we fail ... when we mess up ... we will be confident nonetheless that "God is with us." God is always with us ... and I will humbly ask for mercy.

Jesus Christ ... Son of God, born of the Virgin ... is Emmanuel, "God is with us" ... and that's what we will celebrate one week from today.


                "God is with us" ... that's the sign ... that's the fact ... that's what we are about to celebrate.

The question is:  will we open our eyes to the sign?

Will we embrace the sign?

And so ... will we trust?

Will we let it change our lives?

Or will we remain like  Ahaz and say: "Thanks, Lord ...  but no thanks."