Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!
How many of you like to read murder mysteries? Maybe you got started as children on Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, then moved on to Agatha Christie. Mildred Wirt Benson, who wrote 23 of the original Nancy Drew mysteries as Carolyn Keene, had a clever method for writing those mysteries: she would work out the endings first, then create whatever characters and plots were necessary to reach that ending.
Do you think that is how God, the Great Mystery Author, deals with the stories of our lives? In today’s gospel, so close to Christmas, some very mysterious things are happening to Joseph and Mary, and the newborn baby Jesus. If God had not been directing the present towards certain future conclusions, it would simply be a routine story of an unknown baby born on a rural hillside 2000 years ago. But God’s immense love for the creation has guided the mystery of Jesus’ life since before time.
Isaiah prophesied God would give us a sign: “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” In seven days, we shall celebrate that the prophecy came true in real time and real space, 800 years later. And the greatest mystery is that the “big reveal” of the meaning of Jesus’ birth is on-going throughout our lives—if we are watching for the clues.
But what about all of the questions in our lives? Just as in every good mystery, we are kept in suspense until the very end. When you wake up on Christmas Day, think of how you are wrapped in the arms of the Great Mystery, and how good it is to be alive on the day Jesus our brother is born, the only Answer to the Mystery. ____________________________
Christmas is next Sunday! On Christmas Eve, we will have a Vigil Mass at 4:00 p.m. (Children’s Liturgy), 6:00 p.m., and 12:00 Midnight. Our wonderful choir will begin singing traditional Christmas carols at 11:30. On Christmas Day Mass will be celebrated at 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30 a.m. There is no 7:00 a.m. or 5:00 p.m. Mass on Christmas Day….. I invite you to bring someone along with you for Christmas Mass—maybe someone who has been away from the Church or away from the faith, or someone who may be hurting or having personal difficulties. YOU may be the instrument God will use to bring one of his beloved daughters or sons back to Him. Share the gift of faith you have received—be an evangelizer—give witness to the love and mercy of Jesus Christ who is Emmanuel, God-with-us!
“May the Holy Spirit today enlighten our hearts, that we may recognize in the Infant Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, the salvation given by God to each one of us, to each man and woman and to all the peoples of the earth. May the power of Christ, which brings freedom and service, be felt in so many hearts afflicted by war, persecution and slavery. May this divine power, by its meekness, take away the hardness of hearts of so many men and women immersed in wordliness and indifference, the globalization of indifference. May this redeeming strength transform arms into ploughshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness. Then we will be able to cry out with joy: ‘Our eyes have seen your salvation’” (Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Message, December 25, 2014). ….May we spend some moments in quiet prayer and reflection this week as we prepare to celebrate anew at Christmas God’s gift of love and mercy born for us in His Son Jesus. God bless you and keep you always in His Love!
My homily today: 12.18.16 Homily
Joyfully in the Lord,
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish