I first posted this on my old Beliefnet blog back in 2008, but it’s too good not to post again. I offer this with a grateful diaconal bow to the legendary Rocco, who first drew attention to this great preacher, who hails from Massachusetts.
THIS is an Advent homily for the ages.
I remember the day that Gerry died, as Mary held his hand. She wept. Oh how she wept as she clung to his body in the hopes of somehow not losing the fifty-seven years of married life they had lived and loved together. The kids tried to console her, but it was of little use. She just needed to cry until she couldn’t cry anymore. The pain and the emptiness was deeper than I could ever imagine. She spent the next days and weeks longing for Gerry more than she had ever longed for anything ever before. She so wanted him to come back that every creak of the floorboard and shadow around the corner made her heart leap in hope. I lost track of Mary, but bumped into her again about a year later. She was still sad, but not as desperate as the last time I had seen her. I inquired how she was doing and she told me about the day that made all the difference. She had gone to Church and she was sitting all alone in the pew staring at the crucifix above the tabernacle, she said. When all it once it occurred to her that it was not Gerry for whom she longed, but God. The God who she prayed would forgive Gerry’s sins. The God who would keep her in his grace until the last day. The God who had gone to prepare a place for Gerry and for her and for all who loved others as he had loved them. And Her waiting for Gerry was just a shadow of her deepest longing for God, her desire for love, and her desire to live in God and to know peace with him forever. We all ache for God, and we wait… The addict in the alley behind the Cathedral waits: for a God who will come and remove all that enslaves him… The single mother waits: for a day when she no longer has to work 54 hours, a night when she can sleep eight, a life when she’ll finally know the kids will be ok. The soldier in a ditch in Iraq waits: for a morning when there are no more explosions of IEDs, and every look is not feared as the precursor to an assault, and you don’t have to bury your new best friends. The old man in the nursing home waits: for the day he will no longer be alone, when pain will no longer be his most constant companion, and when he can once again rest in the embrace of her whom he loved. The prisoner on death row waits: for a place where he will no longer be seen as evil, for a life that makes sense, for a time when love can be given and received, for the coming of a God who will love him. The investment banker waits: for the day when he’s not gripped by the fear that he’s about to lose everything, for the day when he can count his value in the quality of his love rather than the size of his profit. The little child waits within her mother’s womb: for a world that will welcome her. and parents that will love her, and a country who will protect her. We all wait in joyful hope, with baited breath, as we gaze toward the Eastern skies in expectation of the one who rises with healing in his wings…
I had the good fortune of meeting Msgr. Moroney last year, when I gave the keynote speech for the installation of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre in Portland, Maine. He’s now the rector at St. John Seminary in the Archdiocese of Boston. A great priest and a great preacher. You can read more of his homilies on his blog here. The seminarians are truly blessed.