Shawn Mendes and Prepping for Christmas:
My Most Recent Homiletic Reflection at the Jesuit Novitiate
(Photo thanks to http://www.popstaronline.com/shawn-mendes-life-on-the-road-episode-1/ )
Reading: Matthew 11:11-15
Those who were at the sold-out Jingle Ball Concert at the Xcel Energy Center this Monday would have heard the Canadian Shawn Mendes’ hit song “Something Big.” While listening to the lyrics amidst the crowd of shrieking preteen girls, Jack and Brennan, I knew immediately that I had to use it in today’s reflection. Bae, as one young lady proudly tweeted, sang melodiously, “Something big I feel it happening, Out of my control, Pushing, pulling, and it’s grabbing me, Feel it in my bones like, O, O, O, O, O, O.” Something big is happening, and I, for one, have felt it in my bones, pushing and pulling, every advent season since my reversion. We are on the cusp of something great, and we can be channels of this greatness.
To be honest, though, I would have to say that I’ve experienced this sense of magnitude both inside and outside of the advent season proper. For instance, one quiet afternoon during my second trimester in England, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. As soon as it happened, I had a sense that it was a message of importance, so I indiscreetly checked it during a lecture that must not have been very interesting. I read the text from my friend JP: “Pope Benedict is stepping down.” “Say what?” I replied, but, yes, it was true. For the next couple of weeks, I, along with the rest of the Christian world, anxiously awaited for the conclave to begin and for a successor to emerge. One night, while a live feed of St. Peter’s Square was streaming on my computer as I prepared some dinner, the crowd erupted in cheers. Shortly after, Francis stepped out, and I started to shake inside. Something big was happening!
Like the crowds in St. Peter’s that fateful night, the crowds from the gospel reading today must have had a real sense that something big was happening, too, something really big. Jesus solemnly and boldly proclaimed that John the Baptist is Elijah. If the crowd had been listening to John the Baptist, then they would have known that Jesus, by calling John “Elijah,” was essentially calling himself the Messiah. To quote again from the great Shawn Mendes, at this point Jesus had “taken a spark and started a fire.” It is hard to underestimate Our Lord’s boldness here.
And yet the same spirit that moved in Christ is with us today. Can we proclaim the message of God’s plan of salvation with the audacity of Jesus, with the true audacity of hope? I invite you to take a moment to consider your life right now. What do you feel that God is calling you to be, to announce, or to do? Is it “something big,” something bold? Does he have great plans for you during the long retreat? Is he calling you to greater holiness at the long experiment? Is he speaking in powerful ways to our directors? Undoubtedly, he is, so, as Shawn would put it, “Stomp your feet: the ground will shake. Clap your hands: the walls will break.” Listen to God with ears that hear, respond with generosity, and see that the mountains will move in praise of the One who saves.
David Inczauskis, n.S.J.