Homily for Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Everyone thinks that Zechariah and Elizabeth’s child should be named after Zechariah, his father, because that is what you do. That’s tradition. I am named after my father and he in turn is named after his father. My sister was named after my grandmother. My cousin is named after his father and his younger brother after their maternal grandfather. Tradition.

So it came as a surprise to those present when John was named that he wasn’t named Little Zechy. He was named John, even though there were none of Zechariah’s relatives or ancestors who had that name.

But if amazement was their feeling at the child’s name, fear was what the felt when Zechariah’s speech returned and he immediately began praising the Lord.

Fear is not an uncommon emotion at an unexpected encounter with God. When we unexpectedly encounter a power so far beyond us that we cannot even begin to comprehend it, it is natural to be afraid if we are not prepared.

It is good to be prepared.

God can come to us in many unexpected ways… He can also come to others in unexpected ways. When we are ready to hear God calling us — and He might call us with a whisper or He might call us with a shout — that call will not be so unexpected and that call will be less frightening than it might have been otherwise. When we witness God calling another, that call, too, will seem less unexpected when we understand at least in some small way how the Lord works.

Preparation comes from prayer, from reflection, from meditation, from making ourselves accustomed to the presence of God. It comes from time spent at Mass and time spent at the adoration chapel. It comes from making ourselves quiet so that we can hear the call of the Lord.

Advent, itself, is a time of preparation. In these few remaining hours of Advent, let us listen for the voice of the Lord, who is coming and whose coming cannot be stopped. Let us prepare ourselves so that we meet Him not in fear, but so that we greet Him as our Lord and Savior, who offers us eternal life in His Holy Kingdom.

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