Monday, December 24, 2007
Does this story contain any truth?
You alone can decide.
It now was very late. The shepherds had left. Their angel-fueled awe had been overwhelmed as they knelt in the quiet before the Christ child. Joseph and Mary were full of joy and welcome. Yet the keepers of the sheep, ever mindful of the needs of those they cared about sensed the weariness in the holy couple. They had humbly left with holy joy brightening the journey back to the hills above Bethlehem.
Now Joseph sought to make Mary and in the Infant Jesus as warm and comfortable as possible in the stable. Jesus was fed and wrapped in clean warm swaddling clothes as He rested in His mother’s young arms. But He would not rest.
His restless squirms and fussing cries troubled the Virgin Mother. Joseph sought, with his weary love, to comfort and help calm the restless hunger of the infant. But Jesus would not rest.
As the long chill night crept on the Infant stayed awake with longing cries and squirming silences. It was in a few moments of tired silence Mary and Joseph heard the steps. In the cold stony ground outside the stable the stealthy steps could not be hidden. Glancing at each other in worry Mary and Joseph said with their eyes that they both had heard the steps of the intruder. Clutching Jesus closer to her breast Mary covered Him with a blanket. Joseph arose and quietly crept to the stable entrance. It was then that the shadowy figure peaked into the darkened stable.
An anxious cry broke the nervous silence. Struggling within the cloths and blanket Jesus cried with lonely longing cries. And Mary and Joseph understood.
Brightening the small fire Joseph then went to the huddling figure hiding at the entrance. With gentle firmness the person was brought close to the restless Infant. Mary arose and brought Christ to the shaking soul. With a warm smile of she placed the restless Jesus in the dirty arms of the wanderer.
And it was as you received Christ He cried in contented joy. He was at rest. You were with Him.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
The cyber-version of my homily for the 2nd Sunday of Advent
We are just days away from the shortest day of the year. The chill and dark of winter brings us to seek the warmth and light of hearth and home. We are created to be creatures of light and warmth. Especially on a cold winter evening our eyes look to light and our bodies seek warmth. Whether it be a campfire or fireplace, a simple candle or Christmas lights we hasten by sight and effort to that warmth and security.
Yet in the cold, and the darkness of the season we face the harsh reality of life. Like the land of C.S. Lewis’s Narnia frozen by the wicked queen life can be oppressed, seemingly frozen in the cruel sorrows of self, sin and sadness. Sadly the powers of the prince of darkness are not the stuff of myth and legend. Whenever we see murder of innocent life, wars of greed and pride or icy malls of materialism and selfishness we encounter the reality of the powers of darkness.
With the second Sunday of Advent the Holy Spirit beckons us to come out of our darkness and to leave our sin chilled lives to come to the Fire of God as we prepare for our coming King.
When we speak of the fire of we can think of many concepts. There would be those who would rejoice at the flaming chariots of God’s wrath that would consume the evil in the world. Many Jews in Jesus’s time were sure that was what the Messiah should and would do with the evil and decadent Romans. It perhaps should be noted that when Christ spoke of the fire and wrath of God he was speaking to the legalistic, religious Pharisees. Yes..the fire of God will burn and destroy the chaff of sin and selfishness. Yet it is in the season of Advent we can hear and heed the Spirit of God to come to the light and warmth of God’s fire and to be enflamed with the joy and peace of His mercy and love.
We come to the fire of with:
REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION ~ We are called to fuel the eternal mercy and love of God with our humble offering of repentance and true sorrow for our sins. Whether we bring kindlings of temptations left to God or immense timbers of repentance our confessions bring to Christ fuel that will be embraced by holy flames of His mercy, forgiveness and love. From the fiery embrace of His holy Passion we then will be empowered by the Spirit of God to follow in His Light.
LIGHT FOR THE JOURNEY ~ With hearts renewed we then can walk the path of faith through the dark and chill of the world. The Advent candles of His Word lead us to prepare for and welcome His coming into our lives and to bring Him to lives of others. In the light of His holiness we can start to see the beauty and hope in the places, things and people He brings us to meet.
COALS of HOPE and FAITH ~ It is as we come to the Fire of God He gives to us holy coals of hope and faith to be shared with those we would meet. In the cold winds of doubt and fear this world can bring the fickle flames of feeling and emotion may soon be extinguished. Leaving one in confusion and loneliness we may stumble and fall. But carrying in our hearts fervent coals of His hope and faith we can journey in the courage of His peace. Then as we meet others on this path we then can share and bring the fire of His love to warm and encouragement by words and actions of caring trust and respect.
The chill and darkness of this world is especially evident in the winter season. Yet as we come to the fire of God we can know the healing warmth of His embrace of mercy as we live our repentance and follow in the light of His Passion. It is in the fire of God we see and experience the beauty of our coming King and the power of His love.