|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good Fruit from Good Word
Sunday, December 4, 2016
I have done a lot of traveling over the years and consider myself a seasoned traveler experiencing my fair share of turbulence in the air. It takes a lot to unhinge me. On a recent trip the pilot gave the standard warning about turbulence asking all the flight attendants to return to their seats. But this was some turbulence! We were dropping 20 feet constantly. People got frightened because we started to nose dive at one point. We could hear the engines really strain. I must confess I got a little scared myself when I heard the sound of that engine. It lasted like for 30 minutes! You might not think 30 minutes is a long time but when you are there, believe me, it is a very long time!
Yet as fast as it had started, it just stopped. We were flying normal again. It was really weird. Our landing was flawless without even a bump. As soon as we landed, everybody took out their cell phone and immediately started calling: “You can’t believe what happened…” Every conversation I overheard ended the same way, “I love you; tell the kids I love them; I miss them.” I was deeply touched by it.
Everyone had smiles on their faces as they were coming off the plane. One would think that after having that experience, they would be grumpy but they were happy. Maybe they were just relieved to be alive and on solid ground again. But I think something else happened. They realized the importance of their lives and who was important in their lives.
At one level I was deeply touched by everyone’s phone calls and by the smiles on their faces but then I thought to myself how deeply sad it is that it requires something as drastic as a near accident to get us to smile! It is a bit like getting cold water thrown in your face. We get kind of shocked into focusing on what is important.
In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist is preaching to those around him and he is, in a sense, like that throwing of cold water on everyone around him. He is saying, “Look, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The reign of the Kingdom is now. It is right here at hand. Repent.” Those who heard it immediately reacted. They refocused on what was important–listening to God. But he warned them that it is not just about repentance but adding good works. He warns the Sadducees and the Pharisees about how we need to show us the fruit of our repentance.
What would it take for us to wake up from our own slumber? We all get a little bit busy and distracted by life, especially at Christmas. Who are the most important people in our lives and how can we make sure they know it. Today we are called to repent and focus on good works. Help not only our family but those most in need.