Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Homily Fourth Sunday of Advent 23 December 2007

‘Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

See the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas -- no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About shepherds and wise men and angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say --
December 25th is just a "holiday."
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit,
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!…

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word "Christmas" was nowhere to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penney's and Sears,
You won't hear the word "Christmas" -- it won't touch your ears.…

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded,
The Reason for the Season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate "winter break" under your "dream tree,"
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say,
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS ... not Happy Holiday!

These few excerpts from a parody of the famous Christmas poem
“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”
speak volumes about the reality of our world
and the challenges to our faith which we face every day.

The most basic reality of our faith…
the Incarnation of the Son of God…
is neglected, set aside, ridiculed, and deemed offensive to the public.
And no one bothers to do anything about it!

The Holy Scriptures today proclaim the imminence of Christ's birth…
and help us to “zero in” on the authentic meaning and reality
of this season of singular holiness and grace.

Ever since the first man and woman turned from God in the Garden of Eden,
our Heavenly Father has been seeking after us…
drawing us back to Himself…
and preparing to send His only Son to pay the price of Adam’s sin.

From ancient times, the prophets spoke the message entrusted to them by God.
Isaiah foretold that a virgin would conceive and bear a son,
and that this child would be called “Emmanuel” – “God-with-us.”
The Psalmist sings of the coming of the King of Glory,
and declares that that only the pure of heart
will stand with the Lord on His mountain.

When Jesus comes, He will be one like us, in all things but sin...
and so we shall be given the grace of becoming sons and daughters of God,
brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus.

Finally, in the fullness of time, God sent His messengers…
first to Zechariah and the barren Elizabeth…
announcing the birth of John the Baptist
then to Mary…
announcing to her that she would be the mother of the Savior
and then to Joseph…
to give him assurance and peace
in his unique role as foster-father of Jesus.

Today we hear of these last preparations in the drama of God’s plan.

The prophets have foretold it…
The angels have announced it…
John the Baptist is preaching and preparing the way for the Lord…
Mary and Joseph have been told of their unique roles in the plan of salvation…
Their lives are about to unfold in a way they never thought possible…

In God’s great design…all is ready…all is prepared…
for the coming of the King…the infant King!
Soon the Virgin shall bear a son!
The day of salvation draws ever nearer!

For us, these events are not simply ancient memories.
They are realities and mysteries into which we are drawn
through the celebration of the Liturgy.
This is Advent!
We, too, are preparing…our hearts, our homes, and our spiritual lives…for Christmas.

Meanwhile, we have to deal with the world around us trying to snuff out Christmas.

We are not preparing for just any holiday…or “winter festival.”
We are making ready for the coming of the Son of God…
the birth of the little child who will come to set us free!

There is only one celebration on the 25th of December.

Therefore, there is no conceivable reason why the lips of a baptized Catholic
should ever utter the words “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings!”

The very word “Christmas” comes from two words:
“Christ,” of course…and…“Mass.”
The word signifies the Mass which is celebrated on the birthday of Christ.

The very word is connected to the Liturgy of the Church.
Without a connection to the religious, liturgical celebration of Christ's birth…
Christmas has no meaning at all!
In our stores, legislatures, and public schools,
Christmas is being drained of any significance.

It falls to us to celebrate and proclaim the reality of what Christmas is…
and to keep the meaning of Christmas alive in the hearts of all people.

If you have friends of the Jewish faith, wish them a Happy and Blessed Hanukkah.

Otherwise, bring to those you meet the true blessing of this time of year.
Proclaim Jesus loud and clear, in every way possible!

If you wish by your choice of greeting to include the entire “season,”
remember that the “Christmas Season” extends all the way to Epiphany.

And if a store clerk should ever wish you a “Happy Holiday,”
look at them with love…smile…and say:
“Merry Christmas!”

Anything less than the truth is not worth saying at all.

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