Weekly Homily from Fr Jim Hogan, Christmas, December 25, 2016

•Isaiah 7: 10-14 + Romans 1: 1-7 + Luke 2: 8-12 or 15-20•

Weekly Scripture Readings: You will need to manually look up the readings

Merry Christmas! This year Christmas is surrounded by transition and turmoil. The lyrics of the refrain from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” echo in my soul.

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.”

We gather to celebrate Jesus, the Christ! In our Catholic household of faith we name him “Son of God and Son of Man” because he – “the Christ” – is the primary “Crack!” through whom the healing power and presence of that Gracious Mystery we name God gets in.

Walking along the Clark River in downtown Missoula can be a rich experience. It provides me with a multiple “crack” through which I experience the divine presence. The seasons change and so too does the river. Every day is different.

Many of those I pass on the river trail seem to be in a rush to get somewhere. An increasing number wear headphones. I wonder how many really appreciate the beautiful “cracks”? I hope that as they go about their business, everyone sees and is touched by the beauty of it all.

If folks are in a rush or wearing headphones, they may not realize Christmas is far more than simply enjoying our own prosperity. Christmas introduces us to the Christ Mystery. With this homily I am inviting you to a greater awareness of the Christ Mystery – so you will continue to live with confident awareness of God’s presence.

To celebrate Christmas is to affirm Christ. To affirm Christ is to affirm the mystery of your own life. Look quietly into yourself. The living God is in you, in me; with you, with me; right where we are. Like our brother Jesus, all of us are capable of expressing and bearing the healing power and presence of God to others. I say this, because that is what Jesus did.

He never spoke the name “God.” We do, to name that Mystery so totally beyond our ability to know or comprehend. Jesus lived with such confident awareness of God’s presence that we now live confidently aware of God’s presence and the unconditional love that sustains us.

We name ourselves “human,” barely knowing what it is to be human. Jesus of Nazareth was so fully human and fully alive that in him we get a glimpse of what we are capable of becoming. And so he awakens us to our own mystery.

Christmas celebrates the One who expressed and brought the healing power and presence of God to us. We do the same for others when we love them. That is our deepest mystery.

My Christmas gift is to remind you “there is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in!”  

We have seen the brokenness of our world acted out in the violence of Syria, Iraq and North Africa. We have seen the Mediterranean Sea become a burial ground. So many are in danger – boys and girls, small children, men and women. Families are separated. Orphaned children who lost their parents find themselves among strangers with no one to help them.

Such refugees are seeking safety and dignity. A small handful of them from the Congo have
come to find shelter among us here in Missoula. Nearly 500 of our neighbors are involved in SOFT LANDING MISSOULA. These volunteers represent all of us in opening our hearts and our city to those refugees and others who will come to live with us. These refugees are a dramatic reminder. “There is a crack in everything,” and when ordinary people like our neighbors and friends, and people like us love, they and we become part of the crack through which “the light gets in.”

Love!! “That is how the light gets in.” Love! Merry Christmas!!

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