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Several years back, I got a new workout program for Christmas. One of the exercises was called the “Impossible Push-up.” Here is how it works. Place two basketballs on the floor and place your hands on top of them while balancing your feet on a beach ball. Now do a push-up. I can get into the lower plank position but as soon as I start the push-up the beach ball under my feet starts to roll and I end up in a big heap on the floor. Needless to say, I only attempt this move when nobody is looking.
I called my brother the other day and I told him about the exercise. He is more knowledgeable about fitness than I am. He told me that I need all my muscles to do this exercise. Some of my muscles apparently are underdeveloped. I said, “Oh, that’s how you do the impossible. You have to use everything you have.” With that in mind, we can now understand the concept of Advent. Sometimes in life we encounter impossible situations and we need everything to get us through. Advent is a time to anticipate that help is on the way.
When I was very young there was a mound of dirt beside the house. I took my Tonka trucks over there and started to build an elaborate road system. There was a very large rock in the way, and I wanted to move it. I got out a shovel from the garage and dug around it. I got a crowbar, but I couldn’t budge the thing. Dad came home from work and saw me with all his tools and wondered what I was up to, so he asked me what I was doing. I was really frustrated at the moment and I said to Dad, “I can’t move this rock, and I tried everything.” Dad said, “You didn’t try everything; you didn’t ask me.” So, Samson-like, he bent down and gripped the rock and tore it out of the ground. “Where do you want it?” And he shotputted it deep into the woods and it buried itself under the leaves. I just stood there in total amazement. I didn’t know he had that kind of strength.
One day Jesus was in the synagogue and there was a man who was possessed by a demon. Jesus expelled the demon while everyone there was watching. “Oh, look at what he can do.” Jesus went to a house in the village and the Gospel writer tells us that the sun then set. Just at the end of the day when it was time to go to bed, someone knocked on the door. Jesus opened the door and everyone in the village was there. Every one of them had an impossible situation. “I have a demon that is torturing me and I can’t get rid of it.” “I have a bad back and I can’t work anymore.” “I can’t see.” If you or I asked anyone in that town about their day, every one of them would say, “There are times in our life that we face an impossible situation and we need everything to address it. ” Advent tells us that help is on the way.
My father was diagnosed with cancer about 20 years ago. The doctors gave Dad a few options. Blast it with chemotherapy or take it out with surgery. Dad chose the surgery. The doctors got it all and he is fine now, but at the time the outcome was uncertain. On the day of the surgery, I picked my father up brought him to the hospital. Before they came to take my father into the operating room, I said to Dad, “You are in one of the best hospitals in the country. You also have one of the best surgeons. You are in great physical shape. Everything is in your favor.” Then Dad said, “Peter, it is out of my hands. With God, I am now in the best hands.”
Remember the impossible push up. We have to use everything. Advent gives us hope that we have everything we need to do the impossible.Back to All Homilies