Archive for December, 2010

Homily – Mary, Mother of God MMXI 1/1/11

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Homily – Mary, Mother of God MMXI 1/1/11

Today when we write out the date we will put 1-1-11.

And today the Church honors a person who is number one in every way: #1 saint, #1 human being, #1 woman, #1 creature even higher than all the angels, #1 disciple, #1 enemy of Satan, #1 friend, #1 mother: Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother.

During Holy Week, it is a traditional practice to reflect on the Seven Last Words of Christ – those seven statements Jesus made while hanging on the Cross for Three Hours on Good Friday.

Jesus spoke Seven times from the Cross, but Mary speaks only Seven times in the whole of Sacred Scripture. So as we end one Year of Grace and begin a New Year, let us briefly look at those Seven Words of our Mother Mary and see what they can teach us.

The first Word we hear Mary say in Sacred Scripture is at the Annunciation: How can this be, since I am a virgin?

Immediately we see Mary as a woman caught up in the Wonder of God. Mary is amazed that God is doing such awesome things through such a young humble virgin as her. Throughout her life, Mary never lost that childlike wonder for God and Creation: How can this be that God is so good to me?

Mary teaches us that we too should be caught up in a childlike wonder over God’s nearness to us and over how He works in and through our lives.

The second Word Mary says, also at the Annunciation, is Behold, I am the handmaid, the servant, of the Lord.

Whatever God wants me to do, no matter what it is, I will do it. Mary teaches us obedience to God and Christian service to God and neighbor.

The third Word Mary says is FiatLet it be done to me according to God’s word.

Not only will I do anything for God as His servant, I will let God do anything to me – I will let God pour His Holy Spirit upon me, I will let God make His Son be born in me, I will let God give me special gifts that He wants me to use, I will even accept as coming from His permissive Will sufferings and crosses if that is in accordance with God’s mysterious plan.

May our Mother Mary teach us to also say Fiat – be it done to me according to God’s Word.

The fourth Word of Mary, appropriately right at the center of her seven words to us, is not a Word but a Song from the depths of her being – Magnificat! – My Soul Magnifies the Lord . . . for He that is Mighty has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name!

Mary magnified and praised God for the great things God did for her, and she teaches us, who too often magnify our worries and trials, to also reflect on God’s goodness to us.

The fifth Word Mary says in the Scriptures is at the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple: “Son, why have you done this to us? In sorrow your father and I have been seeking you.”

Mary, the Mother of God, prayed “God, why are you doing this to me?” Mary, God’s Mother, lost Jesus for a time. Mary experienced bitter sorrow in life, even though she was sinless and had the greatest Son and Husband in the world.

Here Mary teaches us that life will have it’s sorrows and crosses, and at times Jesus will even hide from us, will even appear to have abandoned us, but if we keep seeking after Him we will find Him in an even deeper and joyful way than before.

The sixth Word Mary says is at the Wedding at Cana: They have no more wine.

Mary asks Jesus her Son to give this young couple the wine that they are in need of.

And Mary our Mother is constantly up there in Heaven, looking down on us and saying Jesus, this disciple of yours needs more grace, this other one needs this grace, that one needs this other grace – give them the grace they need my Son!

And just as Jesus, at his mother’s request, gives them not just a normal amount of ordinary wine, but an abundance of the best of wine, so Jesus at Mary’s request gives us an abundance of the best of graces for us to serve Him with and get to heaven.

It’s interesting that this married couple didn’t just invite Jesus to their wedding, they invited Jesus and His Mother Mary. And if they had invited just Jesus and not Mary, Jesus wouldn’t have worked the miracle!

May you and I and all Christians be sure to invite Mary into our lives as well as Jesus, so that she can obtain many special graces for us we wouldn’t otherwise receive.

The seventh and final Word of Mary is also from the wedding feast of Cana. They were said right at the moment when Jesus was going to work His first public miracle and thereby begin His three year public ministry which would culminate in His death and resurrection.

As such, these final words were said by Mary on the day that Her Son, who had lived for thirty years under her roof, who had shared such an intimate love and life with her up until then, was now leaving home for good, and going forth into the world to save mankind.

Mary’s famous last words as she gave her Son Jesus to the world were: Do whatever He tells you.

And that is Mary’s words to us today as we begin a New Year: Do whatever He tells you. Every day take the time to listen to Him speak to you, in prayer, in the Scriptures, at Church on Sunday, in the teachings of His Bride the Catholic Church, and Do whatever He tells you.

Do this, Mary says, and you will have a year of growth in faith hope and love; a year filled with grace and lasting peace.

Homily – Christmas MMX

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Homily – Christmas Night MMX

Angels announcing Christs birth to the shepherds (Govaert Flinck 1639)

Angels announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds (Govaert Flinck 1639)

No music He heard, and no angels He saw

As He lay in His wrappings of linen and straw;

And the ox and the ass could not kneel and adore

For the poor creatures had never been angels before.

The palace He found was an old cattle stall

With a broken down roof and a windowless wall,

And it seemed so ashamed of its spider worn wood;

But it tried to be Heaven, as well as it could.

And it sputtered and wept for the dearth of its light.

A dull stable-lantern, broken and dim

Was the small bit of moonlight that flickered on Him.

Now it longed to be beautiful, starry and bright,

And it sputtered and wept for the dearth of its light.

Tonight, inside that battered old cattle stall, the dull broken lantern dimly but most surely makes out the features of a Baby lying in a Manger, a Baby that is the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace, the Way, the Truth, the Life: Jesus Christ, fully God, fully man, born into our world this Night.

And as the ox and the ass look on in amazement, in the fields just outside the city limits, an Angel of the Lord appeared to a group of Shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.

And St. Luke says, the Shepherds were struck with great fear.

Great Fear that something so good, something so precious, something so real was being given to them this night, was being entrusted to them, and they were so unworthy of receiving it, they were so fearful that they would bungle things up, so fearful that they would lose this precious Gift by their own faults.

As the Glory of the Lord’s Truth, and Goodness and Holiness, and Power shone round about them, each one of them said, “Leave me Angel of the Lord, for I am a sinful Shepherd.

“Leave me Angel of the Lord, for I too many times lose patience with my sheep, and snap at them and hurt them; I too often get envious of what my brother shepherd’s possess;

Leave me Angel of the Lord, for I have a hard time forgiving; and I’ve done things in my past and am even doing things now that I know God doesn’t approve of.

Leave me Angel of the Lord, for I’ve grown cold in loving God, grown cold in the love and care I should have for those who love me; and yet you tell me Jesus wants to be born tonight in this dingy cattle stall which is my soul; you tell me the Baby Jesus wants me to love Him with all the love in my heart, but my heart is like a broken, dim stable-lantern that can barely shine any warmth of love on Him.”

But despite all these protests, the Angel of the Lord will not leave these fearful shepherds.

And suddenly, there was a great army of Angels of the Lord, saying Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to men of good will.

Not peace to men of good works, but peace to men of good will, peace shall be to you shepherds, with all your faults and sins, if you have but good will, if you but strive with all your heart and soul to adore before my manger, if you but strive as best you can to turn away from sin and live my Gospel message, if you but courageously strive to make known to all, by words and deeds, the message you have received this night.

For tonight, inside that far from perfect stable, by the dim light of that broken, sooty, glowing lantern, you shall find, O shepherd, an infant lying in a manger, the Prince of Peace, the Savior, and that’s not all you shall find there:

But a Lady of Beauty stood over His head

While she gathered the strewings about for His bed.

And her soul was as sweet as a fresh budding rose

and as white as the fusion of myriad snows.

And her hands did not soil this immaculate prize,

and her breath did not sully the bloom in His eyes.

On her breast sweet and safe does He slumber and nod:

The lily-white village maid, Mother of God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the baby Jesus so wishes to be born in your stable and mine this Christmas Night; let us hasten to Bethlehem, and with Mary His Immaculate Mother and good St. Joseph to help us, let us adore Him, and worship Him, and bask in the Light, and Joy, and Peace His Nativity brings.