What Are We Waiting For? Homily by Sister Joan Mitchell, CSJ

16 Dec

In the gospel of December 15, John the Baptist sends messengers, asking Jesus,
“Are you the one who is to come? Or, are we to wait for another?”
It’s a question for us. What are we waiting for?

I wait for every day with a little contemplation.
I have a rooster candle stand on our sun porch.
I light the candle it holds and sit in Aunt Maggie’s old rocker
in the deep darkness of our northern winter.
Like the rooster I await the dawn.
The rooster is a symbol of resurrection. The word means awakening.
I still go hunting partly just to walk to my deer stand in the embrace of night
and feel my place in the great cosmic womb of life
and the promise of the stars overhead,
to welcome first light with the pheasants croaking and sparrows chirping.
I await each day simply to take in the wonder
of being alive and part of life unfolding
I awake not only to the snowy world outside
but to the mystery of conscious life
and my place at the cutting edge of life evolving
around me, within me, in my choosing and interacting, my loving and hoping.

Hope runs deep in us to become more.
We are the children of the algae that left the sea to take root in the land.
We carry in our DNA the whole story of the evolving cosmos.
We sit here calmly, breathing in and out, as if we aren’t each a miracle,
billions of years in the birthing and not done yet.
We descend from the bacteria in which Earth first stirred into life,
bacteria that moved toward light. That’s how the eye developed,
the pull toward light, the creative impulse.
And we still 4 billion years later turn toward the light and count the Advent weeks
until the world turns and the sun stays longer in the sky.
Hope is deep and ancient within our genes.
We are made of holy stuff with the capacity to become more

This is how evolution works, making ever more complex wholes
That hold the old and generate the new
Like us Jesus is born of stardust,
of the elements forged in the supernovas of the stars.
In his birth Jesus makes incarnate the heart of God,
In his mission Jesus makes people whole.
He’s the one who makes the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame dance.
He restores the senses we use everyday to work our own miracles
To see where new life is growing in the cracks
To hear where people we have written off are coming from
To dance our joy, touch, embrace, and bridge our separate selves.
God comes to us from the future, pulling us toward all we can become

What am I waiting for? I’m waiting for people
to discover God lives and we live in God.
I’m waiting for people to recognize we ARE the Church.
We are tugboats churning away to turn the giant ship of the Church toward the future.
Who are we waiting for? Another Jesus, or Dr. King, another Nelson Mandala.
Perhaps we have such a leader in Pope Francis.
What a relief! He’s the one we are waiting for, not me, not us.

We know how to be church to one another.
We know how to show up at each others’ side in times of trouble.
We are church in twos and threes, in groups around the gospels,
in families that know how to celebrate anniversaries,
in families breaking bread around our tables remembering for the children
the story of a holy child born among the poor
perhaps among the refugees in Syria if born today,
a man who taught people who they are—healers, lovers and forgivers, life-givers.

I’m waiting for us to listen to one another. That’s a cheap Christmas present.
Give someone you love the gift of uninterrupted listening—10 minutes, even 30.
I’m confident the Irish will save civilization because they keep on talking.
My grandpa used to stop old Pastor Bodine, the Norwegian Lutheran pastor,
who didn’t speak to Catholics and talk to him in Norwegian.
Breaking boundaries is work we can all do.

I’m waiting for cynicism to cease. It’s a terrible violence—writing ourselves off.
I can’t make a difference. I’m not the one anyone is waiting for.
I’m a cipher, not a cocreator of the future with God.
I’m waiting for people to catch on that Pollyanna is right. I have the old video.
Her father taught her the glad game—to find something good in even the worst situation.
The more you look for the good the better you get at it.
One of our African American sisters in St. Louis has a personal practice of expecting people will treat her as a human being, not dis her for her color.

I’m waiting for meadowlarks to return,
for enough milkweed to save the monarchs
for Monsanto to terminate the terminator seed,
for Congress to fund school meals for kids who go hungry. It’s our work.
May we participate each day in bringing to birth
the holy communion Jesus shows us we can become.
May we trust our hope and move always toward the light.
May Christmas remind us what we already know: how to be family, how to be church.

One Response to “What Are We Waiting For? Homily by Sister Joan Mitchell, CSJ”

  1. Maxine Moe Rasmusson December 16, 2013 at 12:34 PM #

    Your words are not only a blessing, but a spur to get me (and I hope, others) moving. What, really, am I waiting for? The fact that we carry the universe in our DNA is easy to forget. It becomes remarkable when we realize this and live as through we are truly bound to all that is. We are children of this great God, and with that comes a call to serve one another. Through listening and speaking to one another we grow, we learn, we become. We reach toward the Light of life that is our Creator and become the being we were sent to be. Thank you. I’m printing this out so that I can read it often.

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