Tuesday, December 25, 2012

My First Christmas Homily

Isaiah: 62: 11-12
Titus 3: 4-7
Luke 2: 15-20

“See, the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth: say to daughter Zion, you savior comes!”

Christmas morning!  In America it has become a time when presents are unwrapped; family and friends gather for a dinner; and Christmas shows and movies are watched.  For many of us, Christmas is a time of colors, lights, joy and good times.  Yet, we know that there are people and places where the coming of Christmas morning is bittersweet.  I am thinking of the victims of Hurricane Sandy, still struggling to put their lives together again.  I am thinking of the families, trying to get through the tragic loss of loved ones in Oregon, Colorado, other cities and countries, and especially our brothers and sisters in Newtown Ct.  I am thinking of those in our community, struggling with the challenges, the curve balls that life sometimes tosses at us.

What I do want to speak about is of a Christmas that was experienced by a group of shepherds outside the town of Bethlehem, the town of King David’s birth.  Now shepherds in the time of Jesus were on the lowest rung of the agricultural workers ladder.  They owned no land; all they had were their sheep; they depended on the sheep’s wool to sell to weavers; on the sheep’s meat to feed themselves and their families.  Their flocks were always threatened by starvation if the pastures suffered drought; by disease, by wolves; and the thievery of other shepherds.  So they were not wealthy, mostly they were poor, very poor. 

And here they were, near Bethlehem, keeping night watch over their flocks, when suddenly, an angel appears to them, telling them that the Messiah had been born.  This proclamation is not made to rulers of nation, but it is to the poor that this great news is given.  And then they have a vision of thousands of angels, filling the sky, proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Pope Benedict, in his recent book on the birth of Christ, expresses the belief that the angels sang this Gloria.  Can you imagine what that must have sounded like? Picture the Mormon Tabernacle choir times a hundred, times a thousand!

So what would you do if you had such a vision, heard such news.  You go check it out!  And that is what the shepherds did, and what they found was this couple in an animal stall, with their infant in a manger, something cattle or sheep would eat out off.  Now other people, more sophisticated people, might say this cannot be the Messiah, and go looking elsewhere.  But when these shepherds saw the child, something in their hearts, told them, “Yes, this is the one who is Christ, Lord, and Savior.”  Their lives were transformed, no longer filled with despair and sadness, but filled now with hope, with peace. 

“See, the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth: say to daughter Zion, your savior comes!”

We have all come here today, like the shepherds, to see a miracle.  When Monsignor raises the Host and the Chalice, we will hear the words “Behold, the Lamb of God!”  And like the shepherds at that first Christmas, we will recognize our Savior.  As the Son of God came into the world as a small infant, he comes to us today in the form of bread and wine.  He comes to save us from darkness and despair; he comes to brings us hope.  He comes save us from fear and sadness; he comes to bring us joy. 

Let us all open our hearts to Him, receive Him, and experience His presence within us.  Let us then leave here glorifying and praising God.  By our lives, let us proclaim to the entire world the good news, “our Savior comes!!”

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