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Monday, January 02, 2012

Christmas Homily 2011

Homily Christmas 2011

2011 years ago, in the obscure village of Bethlehem,
merchants and
paupers, tax collectors and shepherds,
Romans in town
for the census and locals hawking their wares in the street,
guests of the
inn and children playing games,
passed casually by the same rustic,
crude little stable
ever giving it a second glance.

Perhaps some youth engaging in the perennial joys of
or the
land-owner on his daily feeding rounds
cause to venture in…
even they would not have placed this stable in high regard.
Not one of the hundreds of citizens and visitors during the
bustling census time
could have
imagined that this stable
be the site of anything worth remembering.

Even less significant is the manger…
from which the
animals are gracefully nibbling their hay and grain.

When they left Nazareth, on their way to be counted in
Joseph’s ancestral village,
even Mary and
Joseph could not foresee that they would sleep in a stable,
these friendly beasts their friends for a few days
rely on the manger for a crib.

This humble little spot
was seen yet ignored,
alive with the activity of animals but of no significance
to man.
But so it came to pass, because there was no vacancy in the
inn, that
the stable
would be the Holy Family’s resting place
the animals
would be their companions
and the manger
would house the incarnate Son of God.

As God takes on human flesh and Christ is born into this
the baby
Jesus, together with His loving mother and adoring foster-father,
hovering and worshipping angels,
awe-struck and bewildered shepherds…
all drawn to this simple stable.

There is no palace, parade or promenade for God made man…
only the
cooing of birds and the mooing of cows.

The incredible story of
the mystery of the incarnation,
the greatest miracle and most significant event in all of
human history,
is crowded into this crude little barn.

And before Mary lays her child…and her Savior…to rest...
she picks out
the dirty hay…
by the cooing birds and the slobbering donkeys…
and with a
swaddling cloth prepares a comfortable place amid the dirt
which to lay this precious child’s pure body.

As we gather for the Sacred Liturgy, we transcend time and space
and penetrate the
mysteries we remember and celebrate.

Christmas is not a past event.
It is a reality that gives us at
this moment a whole new perspective on life
and a closeness to Christ
greater than that experienced by the shepherds at

The Christmas scene…or,
rather, the scene before Christmas…
reorients our vision of Christian life.
We are rustic stables and empty mangers!

We are imperfect and sometimes darkened by sadness and grief.
We are rough around the edges, soiled and sinful.
We are crowded by the trappings and stresses of life.

At the same time, like the empty manger, we are ready to
receive Jesus!
We are available to Him and prepared by our Advent journey
for His coming.
We are eager to make a comfortable place in our lives for the
presence of Jesus.

The Lord bids us consider how we can, with the help us His
prepare the most warm and comfy and worthy place in
our lives for Jesus.

The Church remains today a strong and holy dwelling for the
presence of Christ…
His truth in
her teaching, His presence in her sacraments.
She has, with the new translation of the prayers of the Mass…
prayers which
more accurately convey the language, theology
and references
to Scripture that lie within our Catholic prayers…
our experience of the Mass
more worthy celebration of Christ’s dwelling with us.
How can we as individuals,
be more worthy for Christ to enter under our roofs?
the roofs of stables…but of our bodies...

As the hay might make Jesus cry or scratch His skin as He
lies sleeping…
what might
offend Jesus in our lives?
What inappropriate behavior, language or activities
must we pluck
out from our lives
so we
can make a clean and comfortable place for Jesus?

Studying, learning and deepening the practice of our faith
also makes
room for Jesus to enter more deeply into our lives.
I invite and encourage all of you here today to take hold of
your Catholic heritage
and make it
your own – the cornerstone of your life’s endeavors.

For as Christians it is our calling, our purpose and our desire
to swaddle the
Lord deep within our every word, thought and deed
and love Him
passionately forever!

Imperfect as we are, we can open wide the doors of our homes
and hearts to Christ!

The same Jesus, who was
welcomed in Bethlehem so long ago,
is truly present as we welcome Him through the Eucharist

The Eucharistic celebration is the experience of receiving
Body and
Blood, soul and divinity,
under our roofs, into our bodies and our
That experience, like no other, brings us into intimate
communion with the Lord.

Have you ever asked why we are told in the Gospels
about the
census and the journey to Bethlehem?
Other than its obvious practical purpose,
why is the
detail of Jesus being laid in a manger
included by Saint Luke in his Gospel account of the Nativity?
The story of the census provides corroborating historical
for the Bible
story of Jesus…but there is also a deeper meaning.
“Bethlehem” means
“House of Bread”
and a manger is a box from which animals eat.
Jesus is born in the
house of bread and laid to rest on a feeding trough
for He is the Bread of Life and the food of everlasting

As we approach the altar, the ultimate feeding-place of God’s
holy people,
to receive the
pure body of this precious Jesus,
we are mindful
most especially of the need to be open and receptive,
of serious sin and prepared by the one-hour fast and prayer,
to accept Jesus into hearts aflame with love for Him!
This Christmas…be the manger…be the stable…
insignificant in the eyes of man, maybe even a little dirty…
but accepted
and loved by God as His own beloved son or daughter…
chosen to be His dwelling place.
In you Christ will soon reside.
May you swaddle Him in each moment, each breath, each action
of your existence,
that the world
may be uplifted and renewed
the presence of Christ alive in His faithful people.


CKM said...

This was a wonderful Christmas Homily. I enjoyed reading it so much that I read it twice and then talked about it with mom. I loved how you mentioned Bethlehem means house of bread, and made the all the important connections.

CKM said...

This was a wonderful Christmas Homily. I enjoyed reading it so much that I read it twice and then talked about it with mom. I loved how you mentioned Bethlehem means house of bread, and made the all the important connections.