Monday, December 14, 2015

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community on 4th Sunday of Advent C, December 20, 2015 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

When we listen to these birth and infancy narratives
in the Advent and Christmas gospels,
it's helpful to remember what Marcus Borg said:
the Bible is all true,
and some of it really happened.
Scholars tell us
that the birth and infancy narrative in Luke's Gospel
contains four facts:
Jesus was born during reign of Herod the Great,
Nazareth was his home town,
Mary was his mother's name,
and his name was Jesus.
Luke's Gospel, written about 70 AD,
originally began with what is now Chapter 3.
The narratives in Chapters 1 and 2 were added
very late in the first or early in the second century.
Fr. Raymond Brown calls today's story of the Visitation
“a second-stage development.”
It's been called an “elaborate fiction”
used to make a connection between
the annunciation stories of John the Baptist and Jesus.

So if this didn't really happen, what's true about it?
Fr. Brown sees the Visitation
as pointing to a truth about discipleship
because it pictures Mary traveling cross-country
to share the good news with Elizabeth.
Sharing the good news, Brown says,
is the first duty of a disciple.
More truth comes in the actions of Mary:
she doesn't hesitate to share the good news;
she greets her cousin in a way that brings joy;
she, in the words of Elizabeth, is blessed
because she believes and then acts on what she believes.
Written to second- and third-generation Christians,
this passage gives a straightforward lesson
in what they are to do as disciples:
to believe in God,
to share the good news,
and to act on their belief.
Mary's actions show all of us disciples
how to live our belief and, doing that,
we make the incarnation of Jesus possible.
We become Christ-bearers by accepting the word of God
and living it out in our lives.
As Meister Eckart wrote in the 1300s,
“What good is it to me
if Mary gave birth to the Son of God 1400 years ago
and I do not give birth to the Son of God
in my own person and time and culture?
We are all meant to be mothers of God.”
How are we carrying Christ?
Whenever you speak peace in the face of conflict,
whether it's with our family members or co-workers
or neighbors or strangers at the grocery store,
you carry Christ to our world.
Whenever you welcome the stranger
or respect the dignity of the poor,
you carry Christ to our world.
Whenever you reach out to help or to comfort
or just to smile in greeting,
whenever you lift a prayer for someone in pain,
you carry Christ to our world.
Whenever you stand up for the oppressed
or speak out against injustice,
write a letter to the editor,
make a phone call to your senator, or sign a petition,
you carry Christ to our world.
I look around and see each of you here as a Christ-bearer,
in all the things you do,
preparing to once again give birth to Christ
through your own actions,
in this time,
in this culture so very much in need of his presence.
Thanks be to God for you!
Because of you,
there will be Christmas again this week,
and all year long.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006

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