Friday, December 26, 2014

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

Homily for Sunday, December 21, 2014
Fourth Sunday of Advent - B
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the land,
    People were worried, wringing their hands.
“What should I buy, what should I get?”
    Will my expectations of Christmas be met?
Mom in her apron, in a very foul mood,
    Worried about cooking, would be enough food?
Dad, too, was cranky, showing ill-will,
    Worried about paying after-Christmas bills.
And the children were impatient – the girls and the boys,
    As they thought only of the presents, the gifts, the toys.
But then what to my blood-shot eyes should appear,
    But an angel of God, with good tidings to share.
“A child will be born in just a few days,
    That if you will let him, will change all your ways.”
“The gifts he will bring, are of joy, mercy and love,
    Sent by the King of Kings from above.”

    What if today you received news that would change your life forever?  I know some of you have received just that kind of news within the last several weeks – you or someone you love has lost a job, or has been diagnosed with cancer.  Maybe you have suddenly lost someone you loved.
    It might not have been bad news – maybe you have just started a new job.  Anyone win the lottery?  Or maybe you just found out – you are going to have a baby!
    In today’s Gospel, Mary receives just that sort of life-changing news.  She is going to have a baby!  And not just any baby – but a boy!  (And she didn’t even need a sonogram to prove it!)  And not just any boy, but the Son of God!  Wow!  Talk about life-changing news!
    And I think Mary’s reactions are normal for anyone receiving life-changing news:  Surprise and fear, Doubt and the struggle to understand, and then Acceptance.
    Isn’t that how we react?  First, surprise, or shock? Maybe even fear, as we try to understand what we have just heard. “Mary was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered it …”  What’s that song by Faith Hill?  “A Baby Changes Everything”.  Things are going to change for her, and we should get ready for changes in our lives, too.
    Then, comes the doubt – “How can this be?”  Why me?  What have I done to deserve this?  How can I deal with it? I didn’t plan on this.  What am I going to do?  Where is God in all of this? 
    Even with good news we tend to forget that God is part of what happened; it can be especially hard to see God when we are in pain or shock.
    But, IF WE ARE TO COPE, then comes the acceptance – whether the new be good or bad. “May it be done TO me according to Your Word.”  Something happens TO us. Somehow, it will affect us personally.  In the case of especially bad news, acceptance doesn’t make the shock or the pain go away – not initially. But it is in acceptance that we are reminded that there is indeed something – SOMEONE – greater at work in our lives.  As we hear Nathan tells David in our first reading, “I have been with you wherever you went…”  Mary’s life didn’t get easier with her acceptance of the child that will be born to her; in fact it became more difficult.  But her “Yes” serves to remind us that God is indeed with us – through the Bad, and the Good.
    Finally, do we truly believe that nothing is impossible for God?  This year I, too, struggle to cope with the loss of someone who was very close, and I will not be celebrating another Christmas with several others I know.  And the headlines in the news for the last few days have left me in shock and in tears – feelings of intense sadness, of helplessness – yes, even anger.  It would be easy to become depressed, and question whether or not God is truly with us.  But then I see the miracles that occur all around me, and the Good News of the Gospel being lived out by so many – brightly lit stars in the darkness of the night around us, and I know – God IS with us – Emmanuel.
    So as I draw nearer to Christmas this week, I will not let the bad news in the world color my acceptance of God’s Will.  I will celebrate that those who are no longer with me have gone Home for Christmas – and are celebrating in heaven, waiting for me.  I will increase my prayers for those who are persecuted or who suffer – and I will continue to shed tears for them. But I will continue to look forward in anticipation to the Good News of the coming of Jesus – next week, next year, indeed every day of my life.  And I will try to share with others the Love and the Joy that God shares with me through the Gift of His Son, Jesus.

    And so let us exclaim, as we prepare all this week,
    Merry Christmas to all; Christ comes, whom we seek.