Homily for Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Today’s Readings

It may seem harsh that so close to the commemoration of the birth of Jesus, we are hearing about the martyrdom of Stephen. The scene of Christmas yesterday was a small newborn baby and his joy-filled parents. It was a scene where shepherds came with great curiosity, and Angels appeared and sang. It is a scene we have witnessed over and over again in countless manger sets of every variety and size.

Today’s reading takes us to the end of Jesus’ life. Stephen is the first martyr described in the post-resurrection period. I would suggest that these two days are juxtaposed precisely to remind us the reason for the coming of Christ into our world. Jesus came for our salvation. We celebrate the God who loved us so much he dies for our sins. The little baby will grow up. The little baby will seek constantly to do the will and the work of the father. And the little baby will grow up to be a person who makes demands upon his followers.

St. Stephen’s feast which we celebrate today is a person who understand the demands of faith. The Acts of the Apostles describe Stephen as that first deacon along with others who met the needs of the poor in the community. But by his following the way of life that Jesus came to bring to each one of us, Stephen is called to give his own life.

We are called to remember that the incarnation was the beginning on earth of the great plan of salvation developed by God. Through his ministry here on earth, we have learned better how to care for one another. Through his ministry here on earth, we have learned better what it means to worship God and to live a life of authenticity. So it is right that placed before us are the events of yesterday, the birth of a little baby, and the events of today, the martyrdom of Stephen, that reminds us that our ultimate destination, and the ultimate purpose of the incarnation, our eternal union with God.

Homily for Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Today’s Readings

Don’t the readings today sound almost too good to be true? The reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah paints a world so wonderful and so beautiful that every source of antagonism and difficulty is wiped away. Lion lie down with lamb, the baby won’t play in the adders’ lair. But perhaps most unbelievable, is that person that will judge with justice, not being swayed by those aspects of life tempt us to move away from the kingdom of God. In this unbelievable world the poor gain a fair hearing, justice becomes the delineating mark for every decision. The person of the prophet given to us, the shoot from Jesse will be one who embodies the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon those willing and ready to receive them.

The readings provided two important considerations for us. First, there is the reality that the Lord Jesus Christ, as one who embodies the gifts of the Holy Spirit as a human, shows us the way. And even though we are not always able to imitate Jesus completely or in full, we are reminded today that just as the disciples who saw Jesus and heard his words, Jesus blesses us in what we see and hear. We to hear the words of Jesus in the readings, and we encounter the person of Jesus by receiving him in the Eucharist.

Isaiah tells us that the shoot of Jesse will be a signal for all the peoples. What if we too were a signal, to all the people? What if we ask God for the grace to be the signal because of the way in which we live our lives, the way in which we care for one another, the way in which we are moved to live the gospel completely and fully? The season of Advent is a time or we are focused in a special way on the coming of Jesus in our daily lives. While we may not yet be ready to do the impossible, we know if we are more and more open to God, even the impossible becomes possible.