December 25, 2010 - Christmas Day
December 26th Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 3 Period I.
The Novena Rosary Mysteries
for December 26th are Sorrowful.
December 25, 2010 - Christmas Day
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Cycle A Homily Book
Sirach 3: 2-6, 12-14
for the Lord honours the father above his children
and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.
Whoever respects a father expiates sins,
whoever honours a mother is like someone amassing a fortune.
Whoever respects a father will in turn be happy with children,
the day he prays for help, he will be heard.
Long life comes to anyone who honours a father,
whoever obeys the Lord makes a mother happy.
My child, support your father in his old age,
do not grieve him during his life.
Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy,
do not despise him in your health and strength;
for kindness to a father will not be forgotten
but will serve as reparation for your sins.
Colossians 3: 12-21
As the chosen of God, then, the holy people whom he loves, you are to be clothed in heartfelt compassion, in generosity and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other if one of you has a complaint against another. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, put on love, the perfect bond. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together in one body. Always be thankful.
Let the Word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and whatever you say or do, let it be in the name of the Lord Jesus, in thanksgiving to God the Father through him.
The morals of the home and household
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as you should in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be sharp with them. Children, be obedient to your parents always, because that is what will please the Lord. Parents, do not irritate your children or they will lose heart.
Matthew 2: 13-15, 19-23
After they had left, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother with you, and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.’ So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet:
I called my son out of Egypt.
After Herod's death, suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 'Get up, take the child and his mother with you and go back to the land of Israel, for those who wanted to kill the child are dead.' So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel. But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father Herod as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled:
He will be called a Nazarene.
December 30, 2007
– (Sirach 3:3-7, 14-17a, Colossians 3:12-21, Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23) Just a few days ago we heard St. Luke describe the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem. Although the manger may not have been the Ritz, we imagined a scene described in the song: Silent night, Holy night. The silence of that night was broken only by the angels praising God and announcing peace to God’s people on earth. Now we hear Matthew’s gospel. The peace and quiet are gone. The paranoid king, Herod the Great, is intent on destroying the child Jesus and the Holy Family have to escape by leaving their own homeland and becoming refugees in neighboring Egypt. It’s like a splash of cold water in the face, but this splash is really a splash of cold reality, reminding us that no family, not even the holiest has a stress-free existence. It also reminds us of the universal conflict and tension between the forces of good and evil, light and darkness, grace and sin. The forces of evil lined up against Jesus right from the beginning. Matthew’s story also reminds us that although our decision to follow Jesus takes us along a road that leads to eternal happiness, that road is not always a paved or smooth.
Our focus today is on the family. The importance of the family cannot be overstated or over emphasized. The family is where we discover what it means to be human, what are our strengths and weaknesses, where we experience love and forgiveness, where we learn about relationships, unity, sacrifice, loving others, accepting others, where we learn values and attitudes and trust and how to handle stress and how to be responsible. Family is where we learn how to get along with one another. All these important learning tasks are hopefully learned in a family that is relatively healthy. I say “relatively healthy” because none of us and none of our families are perfect. A family that is seriously dysfunctional teaches a lot of other things that end up not being very helpful. The success of society depends depend on the health of the family. That creates a big burden for families to carry. It also puts a big burden on society to care about the family and to foster healthy families.
Today we celebrate the importance of another family, our parish family. Here too we discover who we are as God’s children, how to trust God and to love God and one another. We learn values here too, values that are intended to lead us into eternal life. Hopefully we learn how to give as well as take, how to forgive as well as be forgiven. Here we gather around a family table to be fed, not with perishable food but with food that will nourish us eternally. Our faith community is just as important in its own way as our family of origin. And the Lord’s supper that we share is just as important to our spiritual well being as being together and eating together as a family is to our emotional well being.
Today we celebrate 10 years as the united family of St. Boniface and St. Patrick. Back in 1853 St. Aloysius was founded as the Catholic parish in North Side. It didn’t last as such. The area grew and there was not always peace between the Irish and the Germans, so in less than 10 years St. Aloysius became two parishes: St. Boniface and St. Patrick. On December 29, 1991 we formally became once again, a single parish. Since St. Boniface was structurally the stronger of the two andsince St. Boniface had a school, St. Patrick parishioners moved here and the move was a good one from practically every aspect. Only a hand full of people that I know of were unhappy about the merger. (We passedout a booklet a few years ago which contains much more history about our parish. Most people probably already have one, but if you do not we have some more at the doors of church.)
It has been my privilege to be pastor here for the ten years since our merger. None of us knows what the future holds, but if I could make a guess, I think for many reasons St. Boniface will be here for a long time. As for myself, if my health holds up and if the Archbishop lets me I would like to be here for at least another six years. By then I will be 70. I do not know what I will do when I turn 70. I will have to reevaluate things when I get there.
I do want to say how grateful I am to have so many people’s support. There’s only one thing I wish, and that is that more people took seriously the serious obligation to attend Mass weekly. I think that for the most partfamilies are strengthened by meals together. And the Lord’s supper is our family meal each week. I have seen too many people, once they get away from going to Mass every week, slowly drift away from their faith. St. Paul gives us a wonderful list of virtues that would enhance and enrich any of our relationships with one another, especially the relationships within our families: compassion, kindness, gentleness, humility, patience, forgiveness, etc. Notice in this short passage he tells us twice to be grateful. The words St. Paul wrote of course were Greek, but you might find it instructive to hear what words he used: the verb he used was “Eucharisteo.” And he tells us we are to become “Eucharistos.” It is obvious from these words that the Eucharist allows us to perfectly fulfill his mandate. It is a perfect act of thanksgiving because, in a special way, we, as God’s sons and daughters, offer thanks in union with God’ own Son, Jesus Christ. May we, on this anniversary, give thanks for our family in Christ, and for our own immediate families. May we be strong and healthy families, full of thankfulness, and may we rejoice one day in the home of the one Father we all have in common, our Father in heaven. Amen.
Isaiah 9: 1-6
The people that walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
on the inhabitants of a country
in shadow dark as death
light has blazed forth.
You have enlarged the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at harvest time,
as they exult
when they are dividing the spoils.
For the yoke that weighed on it,
the bar across its shoulders,
the rod of its oppressor,
these you have broken
as on the day of Midian.
For all the footgear
clanking over the ground
and all the clothing rolled in blood,
will be burnt, will be food for the flames.
For a son has been born for us,
a son has been given to us,
and dominion has been laid
on his shoulders;
and this is the name he has been given,
to extend his dominion
in boundless peace,
over the throne of David
and over his kingdom
to make it secure and sustain it
in fair judgment and integrity.
From this time onwards and for ever,
the jealous love of Yahweh Sabaoth
will do this.
Titus 2: 11-14
You see, God's grace has been revealed to save the whole human race; it has taught us that we should give up everything contrary to true religion and all our worldly passions; we must be self-restrained and live upright and religious lives in this present world, waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus. He offered himself for us in order to ransom us from all our faults and to purify a people to be his very own and eager to do good.
Luke 2: 1-14
Now it happened that at this time Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be made of the whole inhabited world. This census—the first—took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to be registered, each to his own town. So Joseph set out from the town of Nazareth in Galilee for Judaea, to David’s town called Bethlehem, since he was of David’s House and line, in order to be registered together with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. Now it happened that, while they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to a son, her first–born. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the living–space. In the countryside close by there were shepherds out in the fields keeping guard over their sheep during the watches of the night. An angel of the Lord stood over them and the glory of the Lord shone round them. They were terrified, but the angel said, ‘Do not be afraid. Look, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. And here is a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ And all at once with the angel there was a great throng of the hosts of heaven, praising God with the words:
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace for those he favours.
HOMILY - A tune to shop by: Angels we have heard on high; sing so sweetly while we buy. Demons, too, who lobby hard; for maxing out our credit card.
Christmas is a time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and their kids pay for it.
Christmas – we’ve heard the story many times, yet it continues to touch our hearts. For children though it is especially moving because they are beginning to get a sense of what it’s all about for the very first time. We can look at the statues and let our imagination make it all real for us, the joy at the birth of a child, a very special child, the proclamation of this birth from the angels to the shepherds, the poverty of having to be born in a place where animals were kept and having only a bed of straw to lay on, the love of Joseph and Mary for each other and for this child who came to them and to us as a gift from God.
This year I came across a lengthy poem by Ogden Nash called The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t. He begins his story telling us about a peaceful kingdom ruled by a wise and gentle king. But he had a nephew who was an evil man. His name just happened to be Evilard. Evilard was an unhappy person and he hated anyone who was happy. Most of all he hated Christmas. One day he gathered some other people just as miserable as he was and he was able to capture the king while the king was taking his nap and he locked the king in the dungeon. Evilard and his gang took over the kingdom and worked to make everyone miserable. One of the first things he did was declare: “There shall be no more Christmas.” Evilard decreed: “The man who cries, ‘Good Christmas Day!’ whall have his gizzard cut away; whoever trims a Christmas tree suspended by the thumbs shall be, and he who sings a jolly carol shall be rolled on spikes inside a barrel…” So spoke the rulers, and grimly smiled thus to destroy one tiny Child, the Christ Child and His Christmas. All the citizens were so upset they couldn’t function. Even nature was disturbed. I liked the way Ogden Nash described it: “No one knew when to work, nor yet when to play. For the sun shone by night and the moon shone by day! The mice, they had kittens; the cats, they had puppies; the lions had lambs; and the whales, they had guppies! The ink, it turned white; the mild, it turned black; the pig sang Tweet-tweet, and the cow went Quack-quack. The royal red roses made people to stare, with their flowers in the earth and their roots in the air! The wheat was unground into wheat at the mill, for the river turned round and flowed back up the hill. The spots on the leopard went rolling away and were captured for marbles by urchins at play. Great fires in the towns grew worser and worser; flames put out the firemen instead of vice versa. From headland to mainland, from mainland to isthmus the wide world rebelled ‘gainst a world with no Christmas.”
I like the way the poems tells us everything in the world was mixed up without Christmas and that’s mainly what I want to talk about. Just to complete the poem, however, Christmas was saved by a young shepherd boy with help from St. Wenceslaus. I’m not going to give you the details of how this happened. It would take too long. You’ll have to find the book and read it yourself.
The lines of the poem I read tell us the world would be really mixed up if Christ had not been born. We might still be trying to serve hundreds of gods, idols made of gold or silver or wood or stone. We might still be offering people up in human sacrifice to these idols. Would we have ever heard about a loving God, a forgiving God? Would we know that love of God and neighbor are the greatest commandments? Would we have any hope of life after this life, especially risen life? The world would be significantly different, considering over two billion people in the world today believe in Jesus Christ. That’s about one third of the world’s population. Those who believe in Christ are not perfect. We all sin, we all make mistakes. The peace Christ came to bring us is not here yet. The world is still a better place and we are better people to the extent that we live in his light. Imagine what the world could be if all the different groups of Christians got along with one another and lived Jesus’ teachings more seriously. May we continue to live in his grace as we celebrate this great feast of his love. May we look forward to enjoying his love throughout eternity. Amen.
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