Tag Archives: homily

Holy Innocents

flight-into-egyptThe Protection of Children

We read from the Prophet Jeremiah:

Thus says the Lord:

A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.   (Jeremiah 31:15)

Our children are so vulnerable on this earth, and Jesus was no exception. God risked himself and made himself vulnerable to the evil in this world. The plan of Satan is to kill, steal, and destroy. God has come that we might have life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).

Today we read about the Wisemen searching for a child born under a miraculous sign. The Christ Child they sought was more than an inconvenience to Herod. After all, the Wisemen had called the child “King of the Jews” and sought Him out to worship. This was just too much for Herod to swallow. Not understanding Judaism and the prophecy concerning the child, Herod could take no chances. His very kingdom might be threatened. He was prepared to take drastic measures to ensure his reign. Thus Joseph, the father of Jesus had to be warned about the threat against his son. From the Gospel of Matthew we read:

When the wise men had departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”   (Matthew 2:13-15)

Herod was a monster. Reading from Matthew:

When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.  (Matthew 2:16)

We have even more Herods today. All of our children are under threat, regardless of age. Do we not abort our children up to nine months of pregnancy and beyond, simply because they are inconvenient to us? Have our churches been willing to speak out about this, so-called, woman’s right to choose? Abortion has nothing to do with women’s rights and everything to do with child sacrifice. The Apostle Paul:

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.   (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

What could be worse? In the entertainment industry, government, and even the church, a terrible monster lurks behind the scene. It devours our children while we are looking the other way. Child trafficking, pedophilia, and even child sacrifice have been hidden, but God is now exposing them. His judgment will fall on the perpetrators. They will no longer be able to hide.

The Apostle John, on the Island of Patmos, had a vision in which God would do away with all the evil we are now experiencing:

I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them as their God;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”   (Revelation 21:1-4)

How do we live while we await the culmination of Christ’s ministry? We need to conduct ourselves in a more godly way while we are still on earth. We need to take responsibility for the care of our children. Those of us who have remained silent about the plight of our children need to repent.

When we do not care for our children, we have not cared for our Lord:

‘”Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.”   (Matthew 25:45)

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The Season of Christmas

 

adam_williams_fine_art_madonna_and_child_1250427034625Christmas is the feast of the incarnation, the feast of God becoming flesh (the Latin “in carne” means “enfleshment”). This is a uniquely Christian teaching, the Divine choosing to become one of us. God is not only Transcendent but is also wholly Immanent, Emmanuel (God-with-us). We celebrate how that was accomplished through the miraculous virgin birth of his Son.

Though Immanent, God still remains Transcendent. We must rise above ourselves to meet him fully. This can only be done through the blood of Jesus. The wonderful mystery of Emmanuel is that God is with us as we rise toward Him. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit and dwells in our hearts. Thus an understanding of both Christmas and Easter is required to comprehend the Christian faith.

How do we celebrate the Christmas Season? The secular celebration of the Season seems to begin the day after Thanksgiving or even sooner, depending on the decisions of today’s retail market. The Season lasts until Christmas Day when all those presents many of us have dutifully bought are delivered, after which the Christmas tree is often quickly removed so that our homes can return to some sort of normalcy.

The liturgical church on the other hand celebrates the Season of Christmas differently. It begins with anticipation, as we prepare ourselves during the Season of Advent for the arrival of the Christ Child. The celebration of the Christmas Season begins with a Eucharistic celebration on Christmas Eve (called the Christ Mass in the Roman Catholic Church) from which the name Christmas is derived. The Christmas Season concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, twelve days later.

During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts, and we reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with Jesus. The consecration of this gift is later celebrated on Resurrection Sunday, observing the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died for us,  paying the price of our sins, so that we may be raised with him to newness of life.

The Season of Christmas gives us a time to slow down and drink in the love of God. The psalmist wrote:

O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.   (Psalm 34:8)

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Christmas Day: Selection II

mangerThe Greatest Gift of All

These readings are traditionally used during the Christmas Day service in many liturgical churches.

Homily for Adults

The Jewish people were waiting for their Messiah for a very long time. In fact, they had not heard from a prophet of God for four hundred years. Were they now ready to hear directly from God? Most of them missed the Christmas message, but s select few were given a direct revelation from God.

Can we imagine how excited the shepherds were when they heard a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”   (Luke 2:14)

The shepherds could not have fully understood all that the angels were saying, but they did not sit idly by:

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.  (Luke 2:15-16)

The message to the shepherds is a universal message. The angles trumpeted God’s greatest gift to all of us. How do we respond? Does the Christmas message escape us today?

If we have received God’s message, then we, like the shepherds, will have cause for a great celebration:

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.   (Luke 2:20)

There was more to follow of which the shepherds could not ha aware. The Apostle Paul, looking back on the Christmas message in the light of the resurrection, wrote:

When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.   (Titus 3:4)

When Jesus was born into the world, Judaism had degenerated into a system of rules and regulations to follow. When the earthly ministry of Jesus was revealed, the Jewish religious leaders were not prepared for his message of rebirth. Christmas is about rebirth. It is about a saving grace that transcends all of our human understanding about pleasing God alone through what we do.

If we are to celebrate Christmas, then we must celebrate the goodness and loving kindness of God. This is the true gift of Christmas.

 

Homily for Children

Gather the children together up near the altar. Give them a chance to settle down and feel comfortable.

Homilist: Do you enjoy getting gifts at Christmas?

   Kids: Yes!

Homilist: Do you like unwrapping them?

   Kids: Of course!

Homilist: How can you tell that a gift is yours?

   Kids: It has my name on it.

Homilist: Would you like to wait a little while before opening your gifts?

   Kids: No!

Homilist: What would you do with a gift when it has been opened?

   Kids: We would look at it and maybe play with it!

Homilist: What if you got the Greatest Gift of all time and your name was written to it? Would you not unwrap it?

    Kids: No way!

Homilist: Now remember that you have to send thank-you notes to everyone who has given you a gift.

    Kids; Yeah, we know. But what about that gift you were talking about? What kind of gift is it?

Homilist: It is a gift from God.

   Kids: Wow! What is it?

Homilist: The birth of His Son Jesus who came to the earth for us.

    Kids: Oh! The baby Jesus.

Homilist: Why is His birth important?

    Kids: Because He came to save us?

Homilist: Yes. Do you think everyone who knows about this gift should unwrap it?

   Kids: If their name was on it.

Homilist: Everyone’s name is on this gift!

   Kids: What do you mean unwrap it?

Homilist: Take it out of the box and play with it.

   Kids: Jesus wants to play with us?

Homilist: Yes, and after we do we should send Him a thank-you note.

    Kids:  Can you send a note to heaven?

Homilist: He is listening to us and He is always with us. If we just say we are thankful He would hear us.

     Kids: Oh! When should we thank Him?

Homilist: Every day. Wouldn’t it be sad if someone didn’t open God’s gift?

     Kids: No way. They have to open it.

Homilist: I want to read a verse from scripture to you:

Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.   (Ephesians 2:4-8)

Homilist: Do you see that grace is a gift of God?

   Kids: Yes. But do we really have to send God a thank-you note?

Homilist: Let me read you this scripture:

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.   (Romans 10:9-10)

Homilist: God needs us to thank Him with our mouths.

   Kids: Can we do that now?

Homilist: Yes, and at each new day we need to thank him for the greatest gift of all.

Amen.

Obviously, this homily is not a script to be memorized by the children. It will not do the homilist any good to memorize it either, because at some point our listeners are going to take off on a tangent. What is desired is a dialogue with the children. They are a fearsome force to face, but with patience, listening carefully to what the children may be saying, and waiting on the Holy Spirit, some good may emerge. We must have courage and place ourselves entirely in the hands of the Lord.

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