Friday, December 19, 2014

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Fourth Sunday of Advent, by Rev. Beverly Biingle, RCWP

Christmas Eve Mass, 4:30 p.m.
Christmas Morning Mass, 10 a.m.

Just in time for Christmas,
today’s readings shed light on God’s identity—who is God?—
and on our own identity—who are we?
These scriptures speak to us of incarnation—
the mystery that we celebrate this coming Thursday:
God-with-us in human form.
Our first reading from Samuel
starts with King David trying to put God in a box,
but our God-beyond-all-names speaks out:
I have been with you wherever you were;
I was with you no matter what you were doing,
and I will be with you and your offspring,
from all eternity and for ever.
God is with us.
Paul, in our second reading, makes clear who we are:
we are the ones with strength from God;
we are the ones to whom God’s mystery is revealed;
we are the ones who give glory to God through Jesus;
we are the people of God,
giving praise by following the Way of Jesus.
Our identity—our very being—is part of God.
We are in God.
Then our Gospel tells the same truth
in the story of Mary and her cousin Elizabeth,
servants of God and women of courage,
open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
They don’t see how or why, but they go ahead anyway, in trust.
They say yes to carrying children and giving birth
in the midst of the oppression and violence
of the Romans who occupy their land.
They recognize God’s presence
alive in each other and in their children.
Not only is God with us, God is within us.
So the scriptures tell us that God is with and within us,
and we are in God, always, for ever and ever.
But that has to make sense in terms of the reality of our daily lives.
The world we live in
is not always an experience of “forever” and “always.”
It’s not always an experience
of God who is, who is with us, who is within us,
and we don’t always experience ourselves as in God.
Too often life is made up of lost jobs, dashed hopes,
fleeting friendships, broken marriages, and aging and dying
in a world of violence and bloodshed.
It’s as if God has abandoned us,
like in that last line of today’s Gospel: And the angel left her.
Down at Claver House Tuesday
we talked about the morning news report
of the murder of a hundred Pakistani students,
and some of the guests, haltingly at first,
began to talk about the horrors of the wars they had served in.
George talked of Korea,
Jim and Daniel of Viet Nam,
Chris of Afghanistan.
Tough men.
Yet tears came to their eyes when they remembered,
as if it were yesterday,
the grief they felt 40, 50, 60 years ago.
A brother killed on his third tour in Vietnam,
a note from his buddy
found tucked by his name in the Memorial Wall in Washington.
The 18-year-old who took a bullet in his heart
the day after he arrived on the battlefield.
The chaplain reading Last Rites over still bodies.
And the grief they still feel.
The sad understanding how hard it is to unlearn that training to kill.
Their broken families.
Their broken lives.
They remember.
They marvel that they’re still alive, and they are grateful.
They don’t understand how they survived
and some of their buddies didn’t.
In spite of it, and because of it, they go on,
having faith that God was with them then
and is with them now,
and, they told me,
they believe that God remains
with and in those who didn’t come home.
In the encyclical Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict wrote this:
Seeing with the eyes of Christ,
I can give to others much more than their outward necessities;
I can give them the look of love which they crave.
It’s that look of love that I saw in those men Tuesday—
they listened to each other with respect and understanding,
that look of acceptance and love that each of them craved.
In five [four] days we’ll be celebrating the Nativity of the Lord—
Christmas with its joy and song,
family traditions and special meals with loved ones.
The turmoil in our world—and even in our family circles—
can make us question if God is really with us and within us.
That’s why we have to see our world,
and all the people we meet,
with the eyes of Christ.
As much as we love our perfect spouse and our perfects kids,
as much as we love our perfect selves,
we have to love the in-laws and the outlaws,
the uncle with the off-color jokes, the whiny aunt,
the inconsiderate neighbor, the judgmental friend,
the ex-offender, the old college buddy with too much to drink.
All of them.
We have to love the vet who killed in our name,
and the draft-dodger who left for Canada.
Every one.
We are called to see our world with the eyes of Christ,
to look on ourselves
and everyone else
with that look of love,
so we can know who God is
and who we are.
So we can see Christmas.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

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