Audio Available!

Audio Available!
Be sure to check out in each blog post the links to the audio recordings of my homilies. They are at the beginning of each post! Also, look to the right for links to Audio from other good resources!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Homily - not short!! =)


After four weeks of putting aside the Gloria during the preparatory season of Advent, we sang today once again the great song of the Angels in heaven, the same words that the Angels themselves sang to the shepherds: “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to people of good will.”  The words of the Gloria reflect what Christmas brings us: a deep and lasting happiness that Pope Francis calls the Joy of the Gospel.  This joy can be summarized in a simple way: that the Lord God has become man, has come to dwell in our world, among us, in our lives.  And why?  God becomes man so that man can become divine, can in a sense become God by participation in his divine life that he freely welcomes us into.  This joy is exactly what so many in our world need, as we look around and see so many hearts have grown cold in life, thinking God to be too far away from them, beyond their reach, or else not interested in their “messy lives” because they feel “unworthy” of God's love.
God knew we needed the gift of Jesus, so that we could know by faith that these cold and dark thoughts are overcome by the warmth and light of His love.  Pope Francis, in declaring the Jubilee Year of Mercy, summarized it perfectly in his opening sentences of that document: “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy.  Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.”  We humans are body and soul, and so God reaches to our souls through the physical world as well as to our souls.
The first to adore our Lord after Mary and Joseph are the shepherds, to whom the angels proclaimed the savior.  Is this a coincidence?  Perhaps not, since shepherds were important symbols of God's relationship to His people throughout the Old Testament.  And we can think of the parable of the Good Shepherd that Jesus himself tells, leaving the 99 to bring back the one lost sheep.  This parable was often understood as am explanation of the mystery we see beginning in Bethlehem today: God Himself, departing the 99 (representing the angels in heaven), comes down to earth to put fallen humanity upon His shoulders (by taking up our nature in the Incarnation) and brings it back to the fold of heaven.  In this beautiful image of the joy of this solemnity, three mercies are present:
1. God bridges the gap that we could not overcome.  Heaven is impossible for us without God's help.
2. In becoming man, God reminds us of our great dignity and the goal of our lives.  We were made to be holy, to be saints, and to live forever.  To ignore this is not humility, but sorrow.
3. In showing the depths of His love for us, God helps us to respond back in love.  Love desires to unite itself to the beloved as much as possible, so God becomes man, and even in the Eucharist becomes food, so that he can commune with us, the desire of his heart and mind.
Think of the love a father or mother has for a child who is ill.  The child needs a curing remedy that is beyond his or her reach - no matter how hard one tries - up on the top shelf.  The parent could do two things out of love for that child: simply grab the remedy and pass it to the child, or pick up the child and allow him to share in the joy and communion of obtaining the remedy, even though it all truly comes from the love of the father.  This is exactly what God does in Christ Jesus: He allows us to share in the healing and salvation that we need, even though it is truly all grace, all a pure gift.
In looking at Jesus anew, we are able to rediscover the gift of God's great mercy, and find our joy.  Happiness doesn't come from running around the world looking for satisfaction in these things: the rich, as we see so clearly, are more sad and depressed than anyone.  Joy comes from relationships of love with each other and with our God.  It comes from knowing that God isn't afraid of our messiness, of our “unworthiness.” No, God comes right to us and picks us up so that He can carry us to where we belong, back into the sheepfold of the Church.  I've been blessed to be pastor here at St. John the Baptist for 6 months, and I can proudly say, this is home.  Indeed, the Church is your home, no matter what, no matter how long it's been, no matter how far you've run, no matter how lost you feel.  Look at Jesus, let Him pick you up, heal you, and bring you home.  Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment