Bottom line: Jesus was born in Bethlehem to reveal to us our true Father - and to make it possible for us to come to him.
I'd like to begin this Christmas homily with something from the life of Dave Brubeck. I am sure most of you have heard of him: He was the great jazz musician who died earlier this month.
PBS (Public Broadcasting System) had a report on his life. They mentioned that in 1980 he did a major religious composition titled "To Hope! A Celebration" based on the Catholic Mass. When Brubeck finished the piece, he was proud to play it for various religious officials. After the premiere, however, a priest told him he had left the Our Father out of the Mass.
Dave Brubeck asked the priest, "What is the Our Father?" After the priest explained what the prayer meant, Dave had a dream about it. Dave jumped up in the middle of the night and wrote it all down. It's now part of the Mass that he composed.
As the PBS report said, "The event didn't just revolutionize the piece; it changed Brubeck's life." He joined the Catholic Church, he said, "because I felt, somebody's trying to tell me something."
This story from the life of Dave Brubeck underscores our fundamental human problem. We are like an orphan who does not know who his father is. In fact, many people in our modern world do not even know they have Father.
Today we celebrate Christmas. The meaning of Christmas is that Jesus has come to reveal our true Father. Pope Benedict explains this in his book on Jesus of Nazareth. Here is what the pope says:
"The great question that will be with us throughout this entire book: What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought?
"The answer is very simple: God. He has brought God! He has brought the God who formerly unveiled his countenance gradually first to Abraham, then to Moses and the Prophets, and then in the Wisdom Literature—the God who revealed his face only in Israel, even though he was also honored among the pagans in various shadowy guises. It is this God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the true God, whom he has brought to the peoples of the earth.
"He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about where we are going and where we come from: faith, hope, and love."
Jesus was born in Bethlehem to reveal to us our true Father - and to make it possible for us to come to him. And what we are doing here is like Bethlehem because in the Mass Jesus comes to us in a humble form. I invite you to come to Mass every Sunday to encounter Jesus and through him come to the Father. May God bless each of you on this Christmas day. Amen.
*Here is a section from the PBS Report:
One of Dave's major religious compositions is the mass To Hope! A Celebration. When Brubeck finished the piece, he was proud to play it for various religious officials. But a priest told him he had left the Our Father out of the mass, after the premiere.
"He was very disappointed," Dave explained. "He said 'I loved your mass, but you left out the Our Father.' I said, 'What's the Our Father?' because that doesn't mean anything to me. I'm not a Catholic. And he said, 'Our Father, who art in Heaven.' And I said, 'that's The Lord's Prayer.' And the priest said 'Well, in Catholicism, we call it the Our Father. So I said, 'Well, nobody told me to write it, so I didn't write it. I'm finished with The Mass, I'm going to the Bahamas with my family, and I'm going to take a vacation. I've been working very hard.' So I get down there, and what happens? I dream the Our Father because a priest tells me I left it out. So I jump up in the middle of the night, and write it all down. And now it's in The Mass."
The event didn't just revolutionize the piece; it changed Brubeck's life. "I joined the Catholic Church, because I felt, somebody's trying to tell me something," he realized. "Now, people say I converted. I didn't convert to Catholicism, because I wasn't anything to convert from. I just joined the Catholic Church."
From the archives (Christmas Homilies):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
(December 2012 - Christmas in Peru)
Parish Picture Album
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru