* Two Homilies for
This section of the Gospel of Luke shows what a master storyteller the author is. Here we have a story that both captures our imaginations and is filled with theological implications. Though some of his historical facts are incorrect, the author wants to make the point that this is the long awaited Messiah. Caesar Augustus was considered the bringer of peace just as this baby will be. The parents must go to Bethlehem, the city of David, the shepherd king, where people expect the Messiah to appear. The baby is laid in a manger, a feeding trough, and will be food for all. He is visited by shepherds who have heard an angel song that echoes Is. 9:6. And Mary ponders all these things as an example of a person of faith.
read the padre
A few years ago archaeologists in Israel, excavating a church from the Byzantine period (Fifth to Sixth centuries CE) uncovered a holy stone, "The seat" (kathisma, in Greek), where, according to early Christian tradition, Mary rested on her way to Bethlehem from Nazareth. Based on material found in early Christian sources, the church and nearby monastery were dedicated to Maria Theotokos (the bearer of God). Whether the tradition surrounding this particular rock is correct, the devotion to Mary, the bearer of God, as she anticipated the birth of her firstborn offers an image for our reflection as we are asked to birth Jesus in our world.
We easily imagine Mary, pregnant with Divine Goodness and near to the end of her pregnancy, finding the arduous journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem quite tiring. As she rested along the way, she must have pondered the meaning of "the great things that He who is mighty" had done to her.
Along with her delight in the anticipation of the birth of her first born, she might have worried about when and where she would give birth. Perhaps she dreaded the thought of the return trip to Nazareth with an infant. Like all mothers-to be, she probably wondered what her child would be like and what the future would hold for her, Joseph and the baby. A devout young Jewish woman, she undoubtedly prayed as she rested.
December 23 Fourth Sunday in Advent Mt 1/18-24
The Christmas stories in the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke are not meant to be literal history, like, let us say, detailed descriptions of the Battle of Gettysburg. Rather they are theological stories designed to tell us that with the birth of Jesus a new phase of the history of humankind had begun. The stories may not be true in all their details but they are True in the sense that they disclose to us a sudden, dramatic, and total transformation in the human condition. As John Shea says in his book Starlight, we discover at Christmas, not only the light that is God and the light that Jesus came to bring to the world, but the light that is and has always been in us because we are creatures who share in the light of God, beings in whom the spark of God's light and love has always shone. Christmas reveals to us that like Mary and Joseph we too can be the light of the world and that indeed our own frail and often dim lights are not completely discontinuous from the light of Jesus, from the starlight that shone at Bethlehem.
Once upon a time there was a little girl named Jeanne Marie who was afraid of the dark. She wouldn't go to sleep at night unless all the lights in her room were on. You couldn't never tell, she argued, who'd sneak into her room at night if it were dark. She absolutely refused to go into her closet because, like the boy in comics several years ago, she thought monsters might lurk in the closet especially at night. She claimed that she could hear the monsters talking about what they were going to do to her. Although she like snow, she hated winter because it was dark so much of the time. She didn't like to go off to the country for vacation because there were no street lights and the dark was very scary indeed. The monsters who had hidden in her closet now wandered the streets of the summer village and lurked in the woods. She was frightened when she went to the movies because the theaters were too dark. Her mother said to her once aren't you old enough now not to be afraid of the dark. She said, no, the older she got the more reasons she should think of for being afraid of the dark. She came home from school one day with the story of the midnight sun in Sweden in the summer. Lets live there, she said. But in the winter the sun hardly ever shines there, her mommy said. Well, where does it go. To the South Pole. Well, lets live there. It's too cold. I don't care, so long as it's not dark. Then one day her mommy and daddy took her to midnight Mass in the church. It was totally dark inside. Jeanne Marie was terrified. Then the priest flicked the switch and the church was filled with light. Oh, said Jeanne Marie, it's so pretty. Light always comes on, doesn't it mommy? If you wait long enough
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