Message: We can make a new beginning as individuals, as a family and as a parish.
Merry Christmas! It feels good to say it. Merry Christmas!
Our Christmas celebration has a special dimension. You may know that on December 8 Pope Francis declared a Year of Mercy. The timing could not be better. Mercy seems in short supply today - in our world and even in our families. Mercy comes from "miser" plus "cordia." Cordia - heart. Miser - suffering. Mercy means to have a heart for those who suffer.
Christmas is the great feast of mercy. Seeing human suffering God did something daring. He physically entered our world. As St. John say: "In the beginning was the Word and Word was with God and the Word was God." (1:1) John then describes the descent of the Word - "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." (1:14)
The next part may sound mind blowing. Even though many reject Jesus, John says, "To those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God."
That's the Christmas invitation. Come to Jesus. He will enable you - no what what you've done, no matter how bad you messed up - Jesus will empower you to become a son of God, a beloved daughter. Come to Jesus.
I know some of you feel reluctant. "I don't like organized religion." OK, I get that, but I'd like to say two things. One, humorous and one serious. First, if you don't like organized religion, we're the one for you. Nobody has accused us of being organized.
Second, and more serious - no one really likes religion. The great scientist, Blase Pascal (the guy who invented the first computer) said: "Men despise religion. They hate it and are afraid it may be true." We see that hatred and fear of religion today, more than ever.
The Bible says: "Do not be afraid." God became a helpless child so we would not fear him. Who can fear a tiny baby? God wants to take away our fear and replace it with power. To those who accept him he gives power to become children of God.
I want to make an invitation to each person here tonight. Before making that invitation, I'd like to address a question to Star Wars fans: If Obi-Wan Kenobi can become a Catholic, what about you? Alec Guinness, the man who played Obi-Wan Kenobi, had a profound experience of God that led him - and his wife - to join the Catholic Church. He practiced the Catholic faith until his death in the year 2000.
I am no great master, like Obi-Wan Kenobi, but I would I like to introduce you to the greatest spiritual master. In Jesus you and I can experience an amazing power. God wants you and me to make a new beginning. Some say, "I am too old." Others say, "I'm too young. I'll think about it later." But no one know if "later" exists. 2016 may be the world's last year. This may be the world's last night. It could be mine - or yours.
Our theme is "a new beginning." A new year, a new beginning. We can make a new beginning as individuals, as a family and as a parish. That will be the theme of my upcoming homilies. The first homily will be about making a new beginning as a family. Your family may not look like the Waltons. It may look more like the Simpsons than the Waltons, but God can help you make new beginning. I'll be talking about that this coming weekend. Don't miss it.
In January we will focus on the question, What is God's plan for St. Mary of the Valley? What does God want of us as a parish? I will invite you to join me in prayer and in a process. As a parish we can make a new beginning. Of course, it has to start with you and with me.
So let me say it again. Come to Jesus. His mercy - his heart for those who suffer - has no limit. To those who accept him he gives power to become a child of God. Come to Jesus. Amen.
From the archives (Christmas homilies):
Other Sunday Homilies
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Fr. Brad's Homilies
Fr. Jim's Homilies
Fr. Michael White's Homilies ("messages")
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru