Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Message of John the Baptist: “Everyone’s a Bit of a Fixer-Upper.”

"Everyone's a bit of a fixer-upper."

(Second Sunday of Advent (B): This homily was given on December 7, 2014 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I. by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read 2 Peter 3: 8-14; Mark 1: 1-8.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Second Sunday of Advent 2014]

John the Baptist never went to the movies.

I’m sure that’s not news to anyone.  As they say in the Geico commercials, “Everybody knows that.”

Everybody knows that John never went to the movies, because everybody knows that when John the Baptist walked the face of this earth there weren’t any movies to go to!

So, obviously, he never saw the very popular 2013 Walt Disney film, “Frozen.”

But if he had—if John the Baptist had lived in our time, and if he had gone to see the movie, “Frozen,” at a local theater with a group of his friends—there is absolutely no doubt in my mind as to what his favorite song from the film would have been.  His favorite song would have been the one that the Trolls sing—the one that has this line in the refrain: “Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper.”

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper.

John the Baptist would have loved that line, because it pretty much sums up the entire message of his preaching at the Jordan River 2,000 years ago.

Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper.

In other words (as Deacon Fran reminded us last weekend in his homily), we’re all sinners!  We’re all sinners who are in need of the saving grace of forgiveness: the grace that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, won for us by his passion, death and resurrection.

But in order for us to get “fixed-up” by Jesus and his saving grace in the way that we need to be fixed-up by Jesus and his saving grace, we first need humility: we must have the humility to acknowledge those aspects of our lives that need fixing.

That’s because we can’t be forgiven for sins that we’re not willing to admit!

Now because we’re weak, fallible human beings, and because (as Deacon Fran reminded us last weekend) we all tend to see the sins of other people a lot more clearly than we see our own, we sometimes need help from outside sources in order to come to a clear recognition of exactly what it is that we need to have fixed-up in our lives.

To use an analogy from the material world: Whenever my car needs fixing-up—as it does from time to time—I take it to my trusty mechanic, Bob Wall, down at Kars Automotive (that’s Kars with a “K”) on Main Street and I have him take a look at it, because Bob knows cars (that’s cars with a “c”) a lot better than I do!

With his help, I come to see exactly what needs to be repaired, what needs to be “fixed-up” (so to speak).

And so it is with our souls.  This is why I’ve put an examination of conscience—a very thorough examination of conscience—in the bulletin this weekend.  It’s there to help each of us make a “diagnostic-check” of our soul, like Bob Wall makes a diagnostic-check of my car from time to time.

So I ask you to sit down sometime during this coming week and to reflect seriously and honestly on the questions that are written on that sheet of paper.  Don’t leave your bulletins in church!  Use that examination of conscience to help you to determine exactly what needs to be “fixed-up” in your soul and in your life.  And then resolve to bring those things—those sins—to the great “Fixer-upper”, Jesus Christ, in the great “fixing-up” sacrament known as Confession.  Resolve to do that before Christmas if possible, or at least shortly thereafter.  (In other words, in the relatively-near future.) 

Let me conclude my homily now by referring you to today’s second reading from chapter 3 of the Second Letter of St. Peter.  In that text our first pope says to us, “[The Lord] is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 

Translated into the language of the Trolls from the movie, “Frozen,” St. Peter is saying to us there, “The Lord will give you every possible chance to get yourself ‘fixed-up’ while you’re here on this earth—so there’s no excuse for not doing so.”

However St. Peter also adds this: [He says,] “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.”  In troll lingo that means, “Take note: there will come a moment in the future, either at the end of your earthly life or at the end of time (whichever comes first), when it will no longer be possible for you to get ‘fixed-up’.”

So St. Peter says, “Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.”  Or, as the trolls would put it, “Therefore, beloved, get fixed-up while you have the opportunity to get fixed-up, before the moment comes when it will no longer be possible to get fixed-up.”

Does that make sense?  If it does, then I, or Fr. Giudice, or some other validly ordained priest will see you in the confessional—soon.