Weekly Homily from Fr Jim Hogan, Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 20, 2015

•Micah 5: 1-4; Hebrews 10: 5-10; Luke 1: 39-15•

Weekly Scripture Readings: Fourth Sunday of Advent

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year and today is the fourth and final Sunday of Advent. Once again I invite you to ponder the insight of Thomas Merton:

Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.”

Our gospel text today is from the first chapter in the gospel of Luke.  The first century Christian communities wanted to assure the traditions they had received were passed on.  Most likely all of the eyewitnesses had died.  That is why the written gospels emerged. As the community of Luke set down their collected memories of Jesus, they decided to include the so-called Infancy Narratives.

These narratives were myths that developed in their communal effort to understand Jesus and his meaning for them.  Myths do not record historical facts.  They communicate a deeper reality.

In these narratives, Luke featured two woman: one elderly – Elizabeth, and the other very young – Mary.  They are lowly, powerless women. Perhaps the deeper reality Luke is communicating is that deep down in us, the Gracious Mystery we name God is bringing forth deep goodness.

In our traditional language we say “the Word became flesh.”  As I suggested last Sunday, for most folks in the secular West the Word of the Gospel has lost much of its power.  The statement that “the Word became flesh” is no longer heard as a significant statement about our own flesh.

In my Advent homilies I have been trying to help myself, and you to appreciate that the Incarnation is far more than we normally think.  The Incarnation is not only a story of Jesus coming in to our world.  For the first time in human history, the birth of Mary’s son and the impact of his life on our world has opened us to profound mystery about what it is to be human.

“We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.”

We exist and live in God and God in us.” The more I contemplate this profound insight shared by St. Paul, the more convinced I become that we are not isolated, separate human beings.  Modern science affirms this in many ways.  Deep down we are essentially one with all that is.
Some may call it divine being.  Some may call it Spirit. Some may call it God. There is a spark of divinity in every one of us and we cannot exist apart from God.

His conviction that “we exist and live in God and God in us” inspired the teachings of Jesus.  As I have come to appreciate that, his words no longer sound as challenging and demanding as they initially did.  I now understand that in his life and teaching, the Son of Mary simply is helping us live in harmony with our own deepest truth.  “We exist and live in God and God in us

This means the Incarnation is far more than we normally think.  The Incarnation is not only a story of Jesus coming in to our world.  God is incarnate in all human flesh, and always has been.  We all are sons/ daughters of God, just as the Son of Mary is.

Perhaps it was the influence of Elizabeth and Mary that freed Jesus to be in touch with what it is to be human.  Whatever their historical experience, Luke’s narrative is telling us that Elizabeth and Mary trusted the Gracious Mystery we name God.  They trusted they were loved without condition and that love accompanied them in the challenges and failures of life as well as in the joys.  Our life story is no different than theirs, or his.
Life is this simple: we are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and the divine is shining through it all the time.

The Word become flesh” is about our own deepest truth, about our flesh.

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2 Responses to Weekly Homily from Fr Jim Hogan, Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 20, 2015

  1. catherine Wirtas says:

    Fr. Jim,

    Your book, “We Are the Living Body of Christ” helped me keep alive what little spark of faith I had left in the Catholic church. Your weekly homilies continue to kindle the fire of my belief in Jesus, and move me to accept the challenges in my life, to daily rejoice in and be thankful for the abundance of blessings I receive. I am so very grateful to you (and to a friend who lent me your book and directed me to your homilies.

    Wishing you a joy-filled Christmas,

    Catherine Wirtas

    • Reyanna Rice says:

      Thank you for your comment. Since I am not sure that Fr. Jim regularly logs onto the website to see the comments, I have passed it on to him. Have a wonderful Christmas and a blessed New Year!

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