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Browsing Father's Homilies

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent December 11, 2022

    Taming the Wildness

In today’s gospel passage we have John the Baptist out in the wilderness, trying to get people’s attention, so that they could change, and thus be ready for the coming of God.


I happened to come across a little story whose title intrigued me. It was called “Tame the Wildness”…Here’s the story. “In the old days out West, ranchers would sometimes take a wild horse that they could not break, tie it to a little burro, and turn the two loose. The horse would rear up on its hind legs, snorting defiance, and off they would gallop out on the range.


“Before long the bucking steed would disappear over the distant horizon, dragging the helpless burro along. Days would pass, and eventually the odd couple would reappear. The little burro would come first, with the submissive horse in tow.


“What happened out on the range always brought the same result. The horse would continue to buck and kick, toss and turn, but the burro, willingly or not, would hang on. Finally, the horse would become exhausted, and at that point the burro would take over, become the leader and lead the way home.”


Can you picture the scene? I find it hilarious! To call the two mis-matched animals an odd couple…well, they are—odd! But then, as I thought about it in relation to John the Baptist out in the Jewish wilderness, calling people to change, well, that makes it interesting as an image for our task at hand during this Advent season. Let’s take a look.


Do you have any part of you that’s like that wild horse? The inability to control anger. Finding yourself exploding, especially with those closest to you. Becoming impatient when you have to wait in line. Reacting with road rage when some jerk cuts you off. We probably all have moments like that. Well then, we need to tie ourselves to the burro, which in this case just might be the calm and clear word of God calling us to turn down the heat, stop boiling over, and exploding like that volcano that erupted in Hawaii.


On the other hand, we might ask if sometimes we’ve become a bit like the burro. Maybe we’re indifferent, not taking things seriously enough, becoming lukewarm in faith. Maybe we’re giving somebody the silent treatment. Perhaps we don’t give time to God in prayer. Or we’re not living up to commitments we have made. We’re bored, as calm and lifeless as the burro.


Well, in this case, maybe we need a bucking horse to wake us up again to the beauty and the possibilities of life, to the joy of living as God wants us to live. Maybe we need a shot of spiritual adrenalin to start to take things more seriously. Perhaps we need to take a good hard look at our relationships that just might be dying because we’ve stopped working at it.


So, picture in your mind, if you would, the odd couple: the defiant horse and the semi-comatose burro. I leave it to you to think about this image during this week. Ask yourself: which one do I need to get tied to? The burro, to calm my blood pressure and bring down my life’s explosions, or the bucking bronco to get my thyroid active, break out of indifference, and wake up once again to the beauty of life and life’s possibilities? So which will it be? Burro to calm you down, or bronco to wake you up?