Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for December 23, 2012

• Micah 5:1-4a • Hebrews 10:5-10 • Luke 1:39-45 • 4 Advent C ‘13  •

Printable PDF: Weekly Homily 12.23.12

Jim Hogan2The next two days will place a lot of expectations on you. Exchange your gifts. Laugh together. Enjoy your family. Prepare and share a great meal. Sing some good carols. Gather for the liturgy. Celebrate Christmas. As you do these wonderful things, consider this. Christmas is not primarily or only about the birth of the historical Jesus. Christmas is about the deepest reality of this evolving cosmos. It is made known to us in the one whose historical birth we celebrate.

Recently I saw a wonderful documentary about 4-H life in Montana. The film featured six young people from our state. The project of a young man from Winnet, Montana was collecting and cataloguing bugs, beetles and butterflies. He has a keen sensitivity for the mystery of life.

His story reminded me of that of an author who visited a community in the rural South. Her purpose was to interview her friend’s brother. While waiting for him she learned he was an avid John Bircher. Her immediate reaction was to cancel the appointment. Before she was able to do so, she found herself facing a very large, gruff man. He consented to the interview and told her to follow him. As they walked he spoke about maple and oak trees, rows of corn and the birds and the flowers. She was initially surprised, then enthralled by his comments about the complexity, the mystery of life.

The young 4-H boy and the gruff John Bircher shared this in common. They respected life in all species and appreciated that life is a profound mystery, a window into something more.

Each day we awaken, rise off our beds, wash the sleep from our eyes, pray and engage our daily activities. We occasionally wonder who we are and all that we can be. We enter new relationships or move from job to job. We ultimately are seeking meaning and purpose. Gradually we become aware we are part of something larger than self. We are unable to name it but all of us feel drawn deeper into the mystery, the evolving cosmos, the One we name God.

Today Luke introduces us to his version of the Jesus event with a poetic story about two women: Mary and her cousin Elizabeth. They had little power or status and were asked to surrender their agendas, and trust. They did so. It was not only the new life in their bellies. They were being drawn into an unknown future and they took the risk of trusting.
Like Mary and Elizabeth we are asked to surrender our egos and fears, our prejudices and agendas, and trust in a mystery beyond our comprehension. We name that mystery “God.”

I try to do what those two women did. I try to surrender my ego, fears, prejudices and agendas, and trust in a mystery beyond my comprehension. I name that mystery “God.” My reason for doing so is the child born of Mary. His name is Jesus. He embraced a new way of being human, fully human. He sublimated the energy of his primal instincts and redirected that energy into unconditional love. His relationships were open and inclusive. When abused and violated his response was nonviolent. Those who knew him best tell us God vindicated him and his way of being human by raising him from the tomb. I do not understand what that means but I believe it.

Jesus was the first of us to evolve to a new and fuller way of being human. In him all humankind made a qualitative leap forward on the evolutionary ladder. That leap is the beginning of a new creation drawing all of us into the fullness of life. This is my reason for celebrating Christmas and for trying to trust in a mystery beyond our comprehension.
As I said at the beginning, the next two days will place a lot of expectations on you.

Exchange your gifts. Laugh together. Enjoy your family. Prepare and share a great meal. Sing some good carols. Gather for the liturgy. In doing all of that be intentionally mindful that Christmas calls us into the deep reality of our own truth and the deepest reality of all – the Gracious Mystery we name God.

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