The Sunday TV Mass is a weekly production of the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls broadcast from the Cathedral of Saint Joseph.
Our goal is to bring the Sacred Liturgy to the homebound and those unable to join their local community for Mass. Many thousands take part each week!
You can view the Mass on this website and all across South Dakota on the local CBS affiliate.
Sundays at 10:00am CT – 9:00am MT – KELOLAND TV
Watch this week’s Sunday TV Mass online
This week’s Homily from Bishop Paul J. Swain
“Prepare the way of the Lord.” With those words, the evangelist Mark introduces us to John the Baptist. Historians tell us that soldiers would be sent out to prepare the people for the arrival of their secular king.
That is the mission of John the Baptist in a spiritual way, to get people’s attention, encouraging repentance and thus preparing for the King of Glory to arrive.
John the Baptist prepares the way for us by bringing to life Sacred Scripture. Isaiah speaks of the voice crying in the desert prepare the way of the Lord. In the Gospel, Mark quotes Isaiah and notes that John the Baptist fulfills that role. St. Peter in the 2nd reading addresses those who thought they were prepared but were disheartened because the Lord had not yet come. It is hard to stay prepared every day with our human frailty, constant temptations and destructive evil forces ever about us. The Lord does not delay his promise, Peter reassures, but “he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish, rather that all should come to repentance.” Thank God there is still time for us to prepare, to repent, to as Peter put it, “be found without spot or blemish before him.” Thank God too that there is still time for us to model John the Baptist by heralding the coming of the King of Glory through our mature witness of faith.
Repent is a strong and sometimes disturbing word. What do I have to repent from? I try to live a good moral life, treat people well, and give when asked. My way is pretty clear. One writer compared active Christians to a house that is neat but with a fine layer of dust on things, especially those things not looked at for a while. There are dusty kinds of sins, like complacency, pride, racism or insensitivity to those around us. Like a house that continually needs to be dusted and cared for, our spiritual lives continually need to be looked at and cared for; at least mine does.
Advent is a time when we are encouraged to look at what stands in our way, or as Isaiah put it, what mountains need to be leveled and what valleys need to be filled in to give Christ, who is to come a straight path into our hearts. We are called to prepare ahead of time and remain prepared for his coming, for we know not the day or the hour.
Is there a mountain you face that needs to be leveled, to make straight the path of the Lord – resentment, guilt, or envy for instance. Difficult and unjust experiences are part of life and they hurt. We retain their memories, but they can become a cancer on our souls if we do not address them and put them into perspective. To grow in holiness we should strive to forgive others and ourselves. To forgive does not condone wrong, but it does lift the burdens of memory. Take advantage of confession to level the mountain of resentment and hurt.
Is there a valley that needs to be filled in, an emptiness that only God can satisfy? Some children were asked: what is love. One wrote: “when my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails any more. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis. That’s love.” Another wrote: “love is that feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way.”
If we are to welcome the Lord into our hearts and lives, we need to fill in the valleys, those things that distract us from God, the bad stuff that gets in the way. Then we can experience the fullness of God who is love, the love that came down at Christmas.
We can also make straight the path of the Lord into our hearts by being grateful people, thanking God for what we have received and not in comparison with others. The story is told of a rich man named Carl who loved to ride his horse through his vast estate and lord it over others. One day he came upon Hans, a tenant farmer, who was saying grace over his lunch. When Hans looked up he said, “O excuse me, I didn’t see you. I was giving thanks for my food.” “If that were all I had to eat I don’t think I’d feel like giving thanks”, said Carl. “Oh” replied Hans, “it’s quite sufficient. But it’s remarkable that you should come by today because I feel I must tell you about a strange dream I had. There was beauty and peace all around, yet I could hear a voice saying, the richest man in the valley will die tonight.” Carl sneered at the words and rode on. But the dream stayed with him and he began to fear for his life. He called his doctor to his home who assured him that he was in good health. As the doctor was leaving a knock came to the door. “Come quick”, cried the messenger. ”It’s old Hans. He just died.”
The richest person in the valley is the one who knows his need for God, is grateful for his blessings, forgives the hurts that come, humbly accepts his vocation, and bears his crosses with dignity while remaining hopeful and faithful. He, she is prepared for whenever the Lord comes or calls.
The humility of John the Baptist and the reassurance of St. Peter can guide us to be people of patience today while having perspective about tomorrow. That is hard in our culture driven by instant communication, drowning noise and immediate gratification. Yet it is possible with the grace of God. One scholar quoted this poem: “In youth, because I could not be a singer, I did not even try to write a song; I set no trees along the roadside, because I knew their growth would take so long. But now from wisdom that the years have brought me, I know that it may be a blessed thing, to plant a tree for someone else to water or make a song for someone else to sing.” Patience and perspective flow from living faith always trusting in the hope of tomorrow in Christ.
These remaining days of Advent, a season of hopeful expectation, may we take the time to repent of the dust in our lives and recognize that true riches come from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. May we also by witnessing a humble and mature faith be a prophet like John the Baptist inviting others to share in the joy that is oneness with the Lord.
As the psalmist sings: Lord let us see your kindness and grant us your salvation. Come Lord Jesus.