Believe the Unbelievable – A Christmas Homily

Posted in Uncategorized by fatherjimb on December 23, 2011

During the weekly religious education session at church, the teacher asked the class who was Moses’ mother.  A little girl raised her hand and proudly stated “Pharaoh’s daughter.”  Surprised, the teacher responded, “Oh no, Mary, Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in the bulrushes.”  Not budging from her position the little girl retorted, “Well, that’s what Pharaoh’s daughter said.”

We live in an increasingly cynical world.  We find we can’t trust what we read or hear from others.  Grasping for some sense of order and stability we romanticize about simpler times and fall into the belief that rigid interpretation of the law or belief systems will give us what we need to set things right again.  Political groups such as the Tea Party and religious groups such as fundamentalist, evangelical Christians appeal to us because they seem to offer simple answers to complex problems.  Others have yielded to hopelessness believing that the end of the world is near as they look at the economic crisis, natural disasters and riots in the streets.  Is the end of the world truly coming because the Aztec calendar ends in 2012?  Because of this lack of trust we have become increasingly estranged from one another and from what God wants of us.

Yet, we can suspend our preconceived notions for a little while when books or films capture our imagination.   Such classics as “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” the “Star War” epics and even “It’s a Wonderful Life” appeal to something deep within each of us in our search for truth and goodness at work in a cynical and dangerous world.  We see part of who we are and who we want to be in the truth and beauty of these tales.  The Christmas story is just like that, touching at the core of who we are in relationship with God.  We want miracles like that happen to us today. 

Part of the appeal of these kinds of stories is that they all relate to humble origins and crises which propel the individual into taking some action that is contrary to what the world believes.  The story itself probes into our hearts in such a way that we see beauty and truth in the commonness of life as well as the heroic things in life.  These stories share a common element, love.  This love comes from a well spring that exists inside the heart of each of us and echoes like a tuning fork resonating in pitch with the truth and beauty within the story.  In our Christmas story we have the ultimate result of this longing for love when God chooses to enter into human history becoming one like us in all things except sin.  Through the incarnation God becomes one with us God sharing in our humanity, in all its cynicism, fear, ugliness and death, transforming them into hope, love, beauty and eternal life.

Yes, we want to believe in the story but it seems so unbelievable.  Like little Mary we find it hard to believe that God would act in our lives in such a mundane way.  Why would God want to become like us, our life is hard?  It is often filled with pain, hatred, fear and death.  It is also filled with love, hope and an abiding faith that things can be better.  God chose to be with us because he loves us unconditionally, creatures made of star dust over billions of years.  By becoming Emanuel (God with us) he also raises us to share in his divinity.

His challenge to us is to learn how to love as God the Trinity loves, unconditionally from the mundane to the heroic.  A recent article discussed 50 economic numbers that are hard to believe.  Among the items were the facts that 48 percent of American live at or beneath the poverty level, that nearly 57 percent of all US children live at or beneath the poverty level, that 20 percent of employed workers are currently working jobs at the poverty level and that 40 percent of all jobs in the US are at the poverty level, that 1 in 6 elderly live below the poverty level, and that 1 of every 7 Americans and 1 of every 4 children are on food stamps.  These are only US statistics those for the rest of the world even make America’s poor seem wealthy in comparison.

The minimum amount of love due to each person is called justice.  Although we live in a society that calls itself Christian we allow injustice to not only exist but to grow unchecked.  God entered into this world to as a sign of God’s abundance love for all his creation.  His new command is that we love one another as he loves us.  It is a love that has no conditions such as we tend to impose on others.  I will love you if you follow the rules set down by society such as those relating to immigration or if you aren’t a prostitute, or if suffer from bipolar disease, AIDS or other condition.  Jesus showed us God’s abundant and unconditional love by eating with the pariahs of “polite society,” the tax collectors, prostitutes, and lepers.  He fed the hungry and directed his disciples to clothe those without clothing from their own abundance meager as it might be.

Those who “get the message in the story” understand what they must do.  God will make all things happen when we dare to follow him in love, hope and an abiding faith.  No, disease, pain, hatred and death will not go away.  They are part of the human condition yet because we contain a small part of the divine spark within us we can change things in our world.  At a time when charitable giving has depressed with the economy we should make a special effort to forgo luxury items so that other may have the food, clothing and shelter to not only survive but to also begin to prosper.  We need to look into our own hearts to identify those prejudices we have in our hearts that cause us to separate us from not only our fellow humans but from all of God’s creation and take steps to overcome them with thoughtfulness and action. Even within our own families we learn to not take each other for granted taking time to share meals together, dialogue about what is happening in our lives and offering support and love.  When we can do these things we can begin to believe the unbelievable.

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  1. […] Believe the unbelievable, a Christmas Homily from Cacina […]

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