Homily July 9, 2017, the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

14sun1 (2)My yoke is easy and my burden light. The Priests and Scribes and Pharisees and Elders of Jesus time represented the wisdom of time and the law of the land. It was to these leaders of the temple that the people looked to be faithful followers of God in the tradition of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and king David. These men over the years had codified laws and rules and prescriptions that were specific and numerous and were controlling of every part of life. These rules and laws went from the washing of hands 14sun3before eating to worshiping. Lost in all this was the personal nature of God. Jesus today is telling them that the revelation of his Father is hidden from the wise because they are blinded to Jesus. It is through Jesus that they can see and experience the Father. In this way they come to know the father because they know Jesus and only he can reveal and bring the father to 14sun4them. So, Jesus is revealing to them the true wisdom, and that is his person. He is the way to the father and he is telling those so strongly bound and burdened with so many prescriptions to come to him and rest and give up their burdens. His yoke, his burden is easy in comparison. His call is love and concern for others to live in the person of Christ.

Today, we should remember Christ’s words and remember that wisdom is in his person and actions. Rules and laws are meant to be a service or guideline for order, yet without compassion and mercy and living in the person of Christ are they meeting the test “My yoke is easy and my burden light”? Truly our real rest and peace is in him.

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Homily June 25, 2017- the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

12sun5Today’s gospel is about death and peace. Fear is the opposite of peace and Jesus is telling us that we should not be afraid of anything unless it can kill our soul. We know that if we believe in Christ and walk with him, we have life already and it will continue on even after death. With that life we should have peace and have confidence in God. Yet, I ask you as we live in this world, when everything is well and we are at peace, does it not seem that there is some kind of uneasiness or doubt that something could go wrong. In many ways this is true because we are still in a world and time that sin and evil are still around and we can be effected by it. However, God knows and watches and our faith12sun1 ultimately prevails as long as we keep faith and weather any storm or hardship on the way. Jesus pointed out that the common sparrow or pigeon simply lighting on the earth is known by God. How much more is he not aware of his human creatures? So that Jesus is saying is that death is not to be feared for it is not an end in itself if we are truly men of faith and at peace, the true peace that knows God embraces us and awaits us as we finish our earthly journey. No matter what 12sun2we face, it is a step or a moment to a final peace and union with God. All of us have seen loved ones go before us, and it is difficult to know why and understand. But let us all remember we are God’s creatures and we live in his time and in his kingdom. Certainly, we have questions and concerns at times, but his peace, his way is fully ours if we surrender ourselves and realize all our doubts and questions will be satisfied when we are fully embraced into his love at the end of our time.

The Good Gift

Christmas Eve, 12-24-16 Isaiah 9:1-6; Ps 96: 1-3, 11-13; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 2:1-14

Our scriptures tonight articulate the idea of Christmas better than I can.  Isaiah starts it off with a review of what we read in Advent. He highlights love and hope and peace and joy, just as we have done for 4 weeks now. Then he makes the jump: “For a child is born to us, a son is given, Wonder-counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” Then the Psalm echoes back, “For the Lord comes to rule the earth, let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice.” Not to be outdone, our 2nd reading joins in with “The grace of God has appeared, saving all, as we await the blessed hope, Jesus Christ, to cleanse a people as his own, eager to do what is good. In the Gospel, the angels have the last word, as they should, “Glory to God in the highest.”

The Christmas Story does not begin in the Gospels of the New Testament. The Christmas Story starts in Genesis. God creates a good earth. After each “Day” of creation, God declares creation “good”. Then suddenly in the Garden of Eden, the serpent appears with evil lies and temptation. Why did that happen?

I have never had much success with questions starting with “why”. The problem began way back when I asked, “Why is the sky blue?” My mother said, “The sky is blue to match your blue eyes.” But as an adult, I still ask “Why did the Holy Child, the Messiah, the Son of God, come to earth to be with the likes us?” Answer: To rescue us from the evil problem; to see that we come safely back home to a place of no death and no evil. My mother was right; it’s good to keep it simple. The baby came to pick us up, clean us off, and take us home where things are “good”.   It was just too big a job for us to do alone.

So, in the next week, there will come a time when the house is quiet, the discarded gift wrap is in the recycle bin, and the dishes from the figgy pudding are in the dishwasher. Sit with this story of the Coming of the Christ Child from the 2nd chapter of Luke, and read it again.  Read it for the images.  Let the words lull you into a pleasant meditation.

Consider all the rich phrases. Consider what “being of the house and lineage of David” means, and the implication of” no room in the inn”. Consider the lowly shepherds, getting the news directly from angels and being personally invited to visit the newborn.  What would make the angels say this is “good news of great joy for all people”?   Savor all these images in a symbolic sense, and think how they might translate to this city and this culture.  The idea is not to dissect the words like a science project, but to delve deeply into them and wrap them about you like a blanket.  Stay with it long enough to bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eye.

My favorite Christmas poem was written in the late 300’s. Please indulge me a minute as I read it to you.

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending he – of the things that are, that have been, and that future years shall see, ever more and ever more.

O that birth forever blessed, when the Virgin, full of grace, by the spirit blest conceiving, bore the savior of our race – And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer, first revealed his sacred face, ever more and ever more.

Let the heights of heav’n adore him; angel hosts, his praises sing.  Powers, dominions, bow before him, and extol our God and king.  Let no tongue on earth be silent, every voice in concert ring, ever more and ever more.

Christ, to you with God the Father, Spirit blest eternally,                      Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving, and unending praises be:      Honor, glory, and dominion, and eternal victory,   ever more and ever more.

God Bless you, and Merry Christmas.