Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies

Homily for the 1st Sunday in Advent
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
December 3rd, 2012
Year C

When I was a kid I can remember piling into the family car and driving all over town to see and admire all the Christmas lights that people had put up on their houses. We would look to see if we could see the tree in the window, if there was an angel on top, if they used colored lights or white lights and we would judge its beauty. There were a few houses that we would always drive by to see. One house, I remember, had constructed a Christmas village in the front yard – they usually won the “Reardon Family Christmas Light Contest.” The winners were never announced publicly and there was no prize. 

As I reflect on those memories of my childhood it occurred to me that the lights, the tree, and all the decorations that families put up were indicative of a readiness for Christmas. It was a sign of their holiday spirit and that they were preparing for the coming celebration. It was a way for them to reflect, in an external manner, their inward disposition of their hearts. These outward signs held a great significance for people – and for my own family as well.

As I reflect on this what strikes me is the concept of light. Light is important, particularly with regard to the meaning of Advent. In our gospel reading Jesus tell us that there will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars. All of these are sources of light. In this context, Jesus refers to the dramatic changes in natural elements when the world will come to an end. In other words, the things of the earth and the sky will reflect the glory of the coming of the Son of Man. These sources of light shine brightly because they have God as their origin and at the same time reflect the hope of all creation – the coming of the Messiah. In his Easter Vigil homily of 2009 Pope Benedict XVI describes light in this way:
“Where there is light, life is born, chaos can be transformed into cosmos. In the Biblical message, light is the most immediate image of God: He is total Radiance, Life, Truth, Light.” 

The light that is most familiar to us during this time is the star that shines above the stable in Bethlehem – the Star of David. This star announces that Life has been born, that the chaos caused by darkness of sin in the world is about to be transformed and redeemed. This light, this Life, is God Himself. It is Christ who illumines the star by the radiance of His divine nature. It is this light that beckons the Magi from the East to travel a great distance to behold. It is this light that draws the shepherds to come, see and adore the newborn Christ-child. Commenting on Christ as light, Pope Benedict XVI continues in that same homily:

“In him we recognize what is true and what is false, what is radiance and what is darkness. With him, there wells up within us the light of truth, and we begin to understand. On one occasion when Christ looked upon the people who had come to listen to him, seeking some guidance from him, he felt compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Amid the contradictory messages of that time, they did not know which way to turn. What great compassion he must feel in our own time too – on account of all the endless talk that people hide behind, while in reality they are totally confused. Where must we go? What are the values by which we can order our lives? The values by which we can educate our young, without giving them norms they may be unable to resist, or demanding of them things that perhaps should not be imposed upon them? He is the Light.”

Advent is a time where we are lead by this light and we draw closer to it because at its source is Christ. It is a time of journey; it is not a time of waiting. The very word “advent” comes from the Latin “adventum” which means: “to come to.” It is Christ leads us to greater knowledge of Himself. It is Christ who dispels all confusion concerning the truth of our faith and its rightful practice. It is Christ who scatters the darkness of sin by His mercy.

It is, therefore, my hope and prayer that as we prepare our homes for Christmas with a tree, lights and decorations of all kinds, we will take time to remember the true Light by which we are led, in life and in faith. Let us adorn the inward sanctuary of our hearts with the light that shines above the stable in Bethlehem that leads us to the one who is the true Light of human race, the divine light of goodness and grace, peace and joy. It is true that hustle and bustle of season can be distracting. If we put as much effort into getting our hearts and souls prepared as we do shopping, decorating, cooking and baking then the journey to Bethlehem will take on greater meaning and Christmas will come – Christ will come – bringing with Him divine joy and profound peace. During this Advent journey, then, may our eyes be ever fixed on this light and may our hearts be ever illumined by it.





Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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