1st Sunday of Advent, year A

Sunday, December 1, 2019
Fr. Kyle
Homily transcription: 

God created us to be happy.  So are you happy?

In our lives, we find many things that might make us happy or bring us pleasure.  The virtue of temperance tells us that there are two main kinds of pleasure and they bring about different kinds of happiness.

First, there is physical pleasure.   Today’s gospel speaks about how in the days of Noah, people were eating, drinking and being merry.  They leave out the specifics but you can imagine it was a bit like what you experienced in college.  Certainly these sorts of things bring pleasure to our life; however, the virtue of temperance says that these only bring a shallow or temporary kind of happiness.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy when I have a plate of chicken wings and a Coors Light; however, this happiness is gone shortly after the wings are. 

The second kind of pleasure is a spiritual pleasure.  This is the sort of fulfillment we experience from helping serve a meal at Food and First or ERP.  It is the joy that out high school kids feel after a mission trip to serving the poor in Tennessee during their trip there this summer.  It is the happiness that a mom or dad experiences seeing their child walk for the first time, graduate from high school, or get married to the love of their life.  This kind of joy and happiness is something much deeper and much more lasting. 

The virtue of temperance helps us in every situation to know when to sacrifice physical pleasure and to seek spiritual pleasure even if it requires me to sacrifice.  Let me give you an example.  A couple years ago, I was meeting with some college friends of mine to prepare them for marriage.  We were having a beautiful conversation about the beauty of the sacrament of marriage and how God was calling them to lay down their lives (spiritual pleasure).  The problem was, my Alma Mater, the UNI Panthers were starting a game against their rivals, the Wichta State Shockers, and my buddies were at the bar with beer and wings waiting for me to join them (physical pleasure).  Now the virtue of temperance would tell me to sacrifice the physical pleasure of wings, beer and basketball for the sake of time with my friends talking about their life and love together.

Well, it turns out that I need to grow in the virtue of temperance because I tried to end the meeting quickly so I could go watch the game.  Looking back I am ashamed that I chose basketball over good friend preparing for marriage.  And I was robbed of the deeper happiness of being with them.

So what are some physical pleasures that you might be called to sacrifice for something greater?  We could be like the people in the days of Noah; just eating, drinking and being merry.  But Christ is calling us to a deeper kind of pleasure.  Not a fleeting plate of chicken wings but a lasting experience of joy.  During the Advent season we are called to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and the greatest fulfillment.  How is the virtue of temperance moving us to sacrifice so that we can experience true and lasting happiness?

God created us to be happy.  May we practice the virtue of temperance and open our hearts to happiness.