A Christmas realhomilie from Fr.Kevin Walsh 2013
Dear One and All,
During the week I was driving down the M2 towards Chatswood; a drive under normal Motorway conditions of only 25 mins. This trip took me 75 mins due to Roadwork’s and heavy rain. So, to keep me entertained I tuned into some ‘talk back’ Radio. Would you believe that the topic was….’what do you want for Christmas?’ I couldn’t believe my ears as to some of the things that people wanted…..new cars, new furniture, mega size plasma screens, etc…..then one person changed the whole direction of the conversation; this lady said that she would like to see the message of Christmas within the hearts of all people. The Radio announcer was stopped in his tracks…while trying to respond to this surprise answer too ‘What do you want for Christmas’…one could feel through the air waves, that he was not all that clear about what that was…..He did his best to casually say, ‘ You mean peace for everyone?’ The lady in a humble way elaborated on the meaning of the message without making the Radio announcer feel small or giving him and the listeners a Sermon. She then went on to say that the message of Christmas is summed up in the Prophet Micah’s words in the Old Testament, Chapter 7 verse 8….’ What is good has been explained to you, mankind; this is what the Lord God asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.’ The Radio announcer then went on to say, but Jesus didn’t say that, it was someone in the Old Testament. The lady replied, ‘you are right’. Jesus lived it! I was so happy that this lady got the message over so well; in fact it changed the conversation towards Christ for some time…before I knew it, I was at Chatswood!
Christmas, is the reward for waiting: We spend so much time in our lives waiting! We wait to be born! We wait to grow up; we wait for love to come into our lives, we wait to see our children grow etc. On the day to day level, we wait in endless queues at the Post Office, Woolworths, and then on the telephone as we are continually being told that ‘your call is important to us, you have moved along in the queue’, and so on. Waiting is part of life, and we can make valuable use of it or we can drive ourselves mad by trying to fight it! I have been prone to being a little impatient at times…to say the least, so I am no model of this virtue. However, waiting gives us the prime time to prepare for important moments, especially personal growth, and personal examination as to what drives us, and what is the real meaning in living life to the fullest happens while we wait!
During Advent, God’s Word has led us on a pilgrimage of ‘waiting’ episodes. The ‘waiting’ that took place during and up till the time of Our Lord’s birth, was a test in more ways than one for Israel. However, the ‘faithful few’…the anawim (the poor of the Lord God), reaped the benefits of waiting as the Lord God’s promise was fulfilled in the birth of a Baby, named Jesus. Christmas is the reward for waiting.
Christmas is a time of hope: The prophets of doom have never had it so good! It seems that the world thrives on ‘bad news’ Television News programs increase their ratings when the most gruesome of stories can be told while we are having our Tea (Supper, Evening Meal in Australia) within the comfort of our own home. Yet, every now and then we see a really good story, and uplifting moment when people are truly reaching for their potential and are supported by others or inspired by them. We say to ourselves….’isn’t it great to see some ‘good news’?
When all seemed lost for God’s people, we see that God is always faithful to His promises. In looking forward to a time when a young woman of marriageable age would bear a son, who would be called, Emmanuel…God-is-with-us, that took some waiting! Our Lady is a sign of hope, and a model of faith for us, the flowing Lily of the Anawim and the representative of the faithful few….Only real trust in God’s Word is lived in hope….’Let what you have said be done unto me’. Nothing is impossible to God!
In our world of today, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same…..’Let what you have said be done unto me’ is an evergreen wisdom saying which bears fruit…the fruits of Hope. We are called to be people of hope in the midst of seeming hopelessness. Evil may seem to triumph so often, but the fruits of hope are mostly not seen nor heard; but we know it happens, and it begins always with us. Christmas is a time of hope.
Christmas is a moment of challenge: God’s Word to humanity has always, is, and will be a challenge. If there was no challenge, there would be no everlasting value. Christmas challenged the world of Mary and Joseph; there was no place for them to stay while she who was with child could give birth. When all seemed lost; and there was no room in the Inn, the Stable became ‘home’. This time and place is the opposite of what the world sees as greatness, yet again, God’s ways are not always our ways. Greatness is not seen in foot washing either, yet the Jug of water, the towel, ministered by the Word made flesh, are the real symbols of true greatness. Jesus invites us to copy his example.
Jesus, the human face of the Father being born to us, was an immediate challenge to King Herod! The quest for power is the opposite of servanthood, and again the action of God causes a challenge for all of us. In our place of work, in our relationships with other people, in our acceptance or rejection of new comers to our land, in our response to be living editions of the Good News, or being part of the Dog eat Dog attitude which shows up every now and then in our society. Some of these attitudes might be related to King Herod’s problems. Christmas is always a moment of challenge.
Christmas is an opportunity for reconciliation: Within that wonderful word, Reconciliation, is conciliation. Conciliation comes from it’s Latin root meaning ‘a desire to meet’. So therefore before any lasting reconciliation there has to be that desire, otherwise it can all be ‘window dressing.’ Christmas can be a time of deep sadness for families due to various forms of estrangement or divisions. Some of these rifts between people may only be healed in the next life. Sometimes the pain can run so deep. It can be a form of window dressing to say to oneself…’ well all is forgiven…let’s start again.’ Maybe because the again and again has worn thin. However, we can let that inner sadness simmer for years like a Slow Cooker, and it can either make us bitterer, or more loving. Some of the greatest lovers in this world are those who have suffered much. Lest we forget, that ‘the greatest sign of God’s love is His Passion and Cross.’ Says St.Paul of the Cross.
The desire to meet each other is the first step to reconciliation; maybe that opportunity might arise for us during this Christmas time
Christmas is a time of celebration:
The various Christmas Carols bristle with Joy! All that the Lord God had said in the Old Testament become’s flesh in the Living Word – Jesus! Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to His people on earth!
The people who walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone……Lord Jesus Christ you are the light of the world, you are the corner stone and our centre. Light of Christ, light flaming bright burn in our hearts Holy Fire. It is that ‘fire’ within that sparks the celebration. The Christmas Masses, especially Midnight Mass, has that extra special electric feeling of Holy Joy. Then there are the family celebrations at home with relatives and friends. Once again there can be the sadness of empty chairs due to members of our family going off to the Lord’s loving embrace through the gateway of death, or have gone overseas for Holidays. There can also be the sadness of being thousands of miles away from our families who live overseas. This aspect rings true for my family, and most families these days. May that spark of ‘fire’ continue to be kindled through the coming New Year. May God’s Word be alight for our path at all times, and may we continue to be nourished, through regular Sacramental moments, carried by His Word with our community-the living body of Christ into the Mission of bringing Heaven to Earth!
God sent His Angels to Shepherds to herald the great joy of our Savior’s birth. May he fill you with joy and make us heralds of his Good News, today, tomorrow and always. Amen.
Wishing you, and your family, the Lord God’s choicest Blessings now, and for the coming New Year,
Yours Sincerely in Christ,