Archive for January, 2009

Homily — Baptism of the Lord MMIX 1/11/09

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Homily — Baptism of the Lord MMIX            1/11/09

We read in the Book of Genesis, that after the 40 day deluge was ended, Noah opened the hatch he had made in the Ark, and three times Noah sent out a dove, to see if the waters had lessened on the earth.

The first time Noah sent the dove, the dove flew here and there over the flood waters, but finding no earth to land on, the dove returned back to the Ark.

Seven days later, Noah opened the hatch and released the dove a second time.  This time, Genesis says, the Dove came back during the night, carrying a tiny olive branch in it’s beak.

Seven days after that second attempt, Noah opened the hatch in the Ark and sent out the Dove a third time.  This time, the Dove didn’t return; it had found a home on the new earth that had risen up from the waters.

This Scripture passage of Noah sending forth the Dove from the Ark out into the world can be read as symbolic of God’s sending forth the Holy Spirit from Heaven to our World.

The age of the Old Testament was the First Time God opened the Hatch to Heaven, and tried to send forth the Dove which is His Holy Spirit down to us.

But like that first try of Noah, the Spirit flew all over the world, and could find place no to land.  Humankind was still drowning in a sea of sin and unbelief.  And so the Spirit flew back to God, who brought the Spirit back into Heaven, and then closed back up the Hatch.

And so things remained, until about 2009 years ago, shortly after Mary had said “Yes” to the Archangel Gabriel, when God said “Let me try again to send out my Holy Spirit.”

So God opened up again the hatch which He, like Noah, had made for things to get in and out of Heaven, and He sent forth the Dove of the Holy Spirit a second time down to our World.

This time, like it did with Noah, the Holy Spirit flew back to God the Father at Night:  Christmas Night to be precise.  The Spirit had been unable still to land on the earth, but in His Beak, the Spirit had an olive branch, handed to Him by the New Born Baby Jesus, the Prince of Peace, a sign of hope that the waters of sin and unbelief were beginning to subside.

And Today, the Day of Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist,  God the Father, as we read in St. Mark’s Gospel, tears open that hatch so that He’ll never be able to get it shut again, and for the third and final time God the Father sends forth the Spirit from the Heights of Heaven down to our world.

And just as the Dove didn’t return to Noah the third time, the Spirit doesn’t return to the Father.  It descends upon Jesus in the Jordan, and remains both upon Him and upon the Holy Waters of Baptism.

And we celebrate the Baptism of Christ as the end of the Christmas Season, because Baptism is our Christmas, it was the Day Christ was Born again in us, and the Day we were Born again as other Christs.

On the day of our Baptism, Heaven and Eternal Life was torn open and made available to us, and the Holy Spirit descended upon us, and the voice of God the Father was heard saying to us “You are now my beloved Son, my beloved Daughter, in you I am well pleased.

On this Christmas Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, let us thank God the Father for the tremendous gift of our Baptism.

Through Baptism, all the graces of Heaven flow out to us.  Through Baptism, we are cleansed of original sin, that sinful condition we are all naturally born into that deprives us of eternal life and happiness.

Through Baptism original sin, and all our personal sins committed before baptism are washed clean, and we are given the grace to resist any temptation the Devil may throw at us.  As St. John says in the second reading, for the Baptised believer God’s commandments are not burndensome to obey, for whoever is begotten by God in Baptism conquers the world and is able to joyful keep God’s Commandments.

Baptism also gives us the Gift of Supernatural Faith, Hope and Charity:  Faith which enables us to believe that Jesus isn’t just a human being, but the Son of God, Faith which enables us  to believe that Jesus died for our sins and is now truly Risen from the dead.

The Gift of Hope given at Baptism enables us to Hope for God’s graces to be with us in all circumstances, to Hope that the sins we’ve committed through weakness after our baptism have been forgiven if we have confessed them to a priest, and to Hope for Heaven and the Resurrection of our earthly bodies after this life is over.

And finally, Baptism gives us the Gift of Charity, enabling us to really love God with all our heart soul mind and strength and to love our neighbor, even our enemies, as we love ourselves with the very same Love Jesus had in His Sacred Heart.

Through the Gift of Baptism, God becomes our Father, Mary and the Church becomes our Mother, and Jesus becomes our Brother, and Teacher and Friend.

Thank you Father, for tearing open the hatch of Heaven, and for sending forth Your Spirit in the form of a Dove upon Jesus and upon all of us who have come to the waters of Baptism, and have experienced Christ Born again in us, by water and the Holy Spirit.

Homily — Epiphany MMIX Jan. 4, 2009

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Homily — Epiphany MMIX                Jan. 4, 2009

Today we celebrate the Twelth Day of Christmas, the Epiphany or Manifestation of Jesus to the Magi.

While the Jewish Shepherds have been kneeling around the Creche for the past 11 or so days, the Magi just arrive today because they had a longer journey to make than the Shepherds did — a longer journey geographically, and more importantly, a longer journey spiritually.

For the Jewish Shepherds, who geographically lived just a few miles outside Bethlehem, had to take a much shorter Spiritual Journey to get to the Manger as well.

The Shepherds started out closer to God and to Jesus than the Magi did.  This was because the shepherds had years of following the Law of Moses, the Ten Commandments, behind them, when Christmas night finally came.

The Shepherds also had all the Old Testament writings, the Word of God (although not yet complete), to walk by:  the History of God’s Chosen People, the Psalms to help them pray correctly, the Proverbs and other Wisdom books, the Prophets to call them to greater holiness.

The Shepherds also had great role models of faith to inspire them:  Abraham and Sarah, Israel, Ruth, David, Esther, the Maccabbee Brothers — all these Holy Men and Women and many others helped draw them closer to the One True God.

And lastly, the Shepherds had their Rabbis to teach them the scriptures, and their priests to offer acceptable sacrifices to God to atone for their sins and to thank Him for His blessings.

And so it was fitting that on Christmas Night, these Shepherds who were so close to God the Father to begin with would hear clearly the words of the Angel of the Lord announcing the Birth of Jesus the King of Kings;   fitting that these Jewish Shepherds would see clearly the sky filled with an army of Angels and hear loud and clear their Singing Glory to God in the Highest, fitting that the Journey to the Manger would be short and quick for these Shepherds.

In contrast, the pagan Magi had a much longer spiritual journey to make than the Jewish shepherds.

For they were raised in man-made religions, and were taught to worship false gods that pointed them in the wrong direction from where the true God could be found.

Their moral codes, while not totally bad in some areas, still were gravely insufficient to lead them to the fulness of life.

And so in each of these Magi’s country of origin, the words of the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading bore true:  Darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds the peoples of these lands where the God of Israel was not known.

And yet the Magi were men who made it their life’s goal to rise above the thick clouds of ignorance, doubt, despair and pagan sensuality.   And piercing through this cloud cover that hung over their lands, each of them looked up and saw, off in the distance, a tiny star.  They knew then and there that this was the guiding light each of them had been searching for in life.

And so each Magi set out by himself from his pagan country, unaware that at the same time other Magi from other pagan lands were also being guided by that same star.

And as they journeyed through mountains and valleys, they eventually met up with one another and realized they weren’t alone in their search for the New Born King, and they continued on the road together, and all the while the thick clouds began to get thinner, as the star began to shine brighter.

And today, the Magi reach the end of their Journey.  They now see and adore the child Jesus with Mary His Mother, in the House they now call their home.

Darkness and thick clouds no longer cover them.  Nor do they walk any more by the dim light of a tiny star.  No, the glory of the Lord shines round about them, as bright as it shines for the shepherds.

On this Great Solemnity of the Epiphany, let us journey with the Shepherds and the Magi to Bethlehem to Adore the New Born King.

Like the shepherds, we too can take the short and fast route to the manger by daily reading the Word of God, both the Old and now the New Testament, by living by the teachings of Christ and His Church, by following the example of the Saints, and by frequent reception of the sacraments.

And  like the Magi, may we too rise above the thick clouds of disbelief and anxiety and neo-pagan sensuality that cover our land once more, and journey by the dim light of faith.  We will not be alone for long in our journey, we will meet up with other Magi from other pagan lands along the road.

May the New Born Jesus manifest Himself ever more fully,  and shine out ever more brightly and gloriously, to all Shepherds and Magi this New Year of 2009.

Homily — Mary, Mother of God MMIX

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Homily — Mary, Mother of God MMIX

As many of you know, our beautiful new outdoor Nativity Scene in front of the Church went through a rough first Christmas.

Some time early Christmas morning, strong winds blew the roof right off of it.  We managed to screw the roof back on tight before the 10 a.m. Mass, but by the time we got out of Mass the wind had flipped the whole wooden stable over!  (At least the roof stayed on).

Thankfully, there were some sand bags that we use to protect one of the back doors to the school when the stream in back of the Church overflows its banks, we put these sandbags on top of and around the crèche, and so far it’s still standing.

I just hope we don’t have any floods before the Christmas Season’s over!

While this is all kind of comical, the real stable of Bethlehem probably wasn’t much better of a shelter. Whether it was a damp, dark, cold cave like many stables in that day, or a creaky, leaky roofed wooden structure that fell down in a wind storm, it was far from a palace worthy of God’s Son to be born in.   In addition to being drafty, damp and poorly lit, the stable smelled of barnyard hay, animals, and manure.

And yet, in the midst of this bitter poverty, a figure could be found who was and is the most beautiful and radiant creature God had ever created, the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

And Mary probably had never in her life looked more beautiful, more joyful, than she did right after giving birth to Her Divine Son and seeing His face, for the very first time; and seeing His Face looking at Her who He chose for His Mother for the very first time.

As Jesus would say later at the Last Supper: He who sees me, sees the Father.  Mary even then knew that she was seeing the face of God in Her new born Son.

Probably, the strongest of human loves is the love of a mother for her child.  Mary has this natural love and affection for the humanity of Jesus her Son, which surpasses any natural love and affection you or I could have for Jesus.

But Mary not only has a natural love for Jesus as Man, whe also has a supernatural love for Jesus as God.  And it is this great supernatural Love found in Mary’s Immaculate Heart that makes us honor and venerate her.

For no Angel, no Shepherd, no Magi; no Apostle, or Martyr or Saint can come close to the Adoration and Worship that Mary offers to the Baby Jesus.  Her faith, Her Hope, Her love for Her Son is deeper and stronger than any of us can have.

And so, while the Stable was cold and damp and smelly and uncomfortable, Mary kept not those things, but rather the Love of God and the Joy of His being born to us in her heart, reflecting on them constantly.

And now that Jesus from the Cross has given her to us to be our Mother also, Mary wishes to share these precious gifts she has received with us her children.

As we begin this New Year of Grace, let us entrust ourselves and our families and our Church to our Bl Mother.    May Mary hold us all in her maternal heart throughout this year, and help us to reflect upon and keep all the great things her Son Jesus has done for us, and be open to all the great things He will continue to do his disciples.