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4th Advent Homily

Because sometimes I am about puppies and rainbows, here's my H's friend's homily:

I.  MT and Joseph
The stories of Christmas are told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  Luke, as we will see next week, is told entirely from the perspective of Mary.  Matthew is told from the perspective of Joseph.  Today’s Gospel is an excellent example of this.  In MT, there is no Annunciation.  Instead, the angel appears to Joseph in a dream.  Actually there are three dreams of Joseph in MT: first, telling Joseph to have no fear about taking Mary as his wife; second, telling him to flee to Egypt with his family; and, third, telling him that it safe to go home since Herod is dead. However, what I find really interesting is that there is one element which is the same in MT and LK.  Notice that the first words out of the angels’ mouths are: “Do not be afraid.”  It will be the same in LK.  The Angel Gabriel tells Mary: “Do not be afraid, rejoice.”  The shepherds in LK are told, “Fear not! For I bring you  good tidings of great joy which shall be known henceforth unto all people.”  This pattern is neither accidental, nor inconsequential.  As I often tell my students, atheism is not the opposite of faith; fear is the opposite of faith.

II.  Xavier’s Dad
One of my old friends and most faithful readers of my homilies is Xavier Suarez, the former mayor of Miami.  Certainly X is the one most likely to respond to my homilies online.  He is usually quite supportive and laudatory, although he is not afraid to offer critique.  My addiction to angels does rub him ever so slightly wrong.  In any event, XS wrote me last week and gave me a quote from his own father which has stayed with me all week long.  X’s father used to say: “Jesus came as a baby because no one is afraid of a baby!”  God! I love that quote.  Fear is the opposite of faith!  No one is afraid of a baby.

III.  A course on spirituality in a few angelic whispers
In just these few words from MT’s Gospel, we are given a whole course on the meaning of spirituality and the meaning of life.  Fear, resentment and hatred are poisons and they kill the spirit and the soul.  When I say they are poisons, I mean they are “suicidal,” not homicidal poisons.  Fear, resentment and hatred, first of all and most of all, hurt myself more than they hurt anyone else.  A wise woman once said (Carrie Fisher), “resentment is like drinking poison and, then, waiting for the other person to die.”  When the angels tell us to fear not, they are really telling us to be free, to live, to laugh, to love.

IV.  Sister Ruth, second grade, stuttering
One of my earliest memories of fear was when I was in the first or second grade.  When I was a little boy, I stuttered terribly.  Hard to believe now, isn’t it when it seems like I never stop talking?  Anyhow, I used to just hate it when the teacher would call on me in class.  I usually knew the answer but I was so scared that my words would come tumbling out like beads from a broken string.  Anyhow, at one point in the second grade, Sister Ruth pulled me aside – Sister Ruth by the way was a lovely woman and is probably a saint in heaven right now – she told me that I stuttered because I was so smart and was trying to get the words out too quickly.  She told me to pray one Hail Mary before speaking and the Blessed Mother would help me.  To this day, I still pray a Hail Mary before speaking publically.  It is still scary sometimes but I do not stutter anymore.  Fear is useless; fear breaks us and tears us down. Trust is necessary, trust builds us up and makes us whole.

V.  Do not be afraid
We don’t have to be afraid anymore, not of anything and not ever again. For unto to us a child is born, which is Christ, the Lord. Fear nothing, for all the abundant horror in the world, there is more of beauty, of kindness, of love. Listen for the whispering of angels, telling us not to be afraid.  Like Joseph, be attentive to the whispering of angels in the still, silent substance of your dreams. 




Re: 4th Advent Homily

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    edited December 2011
    That is absolutely beautiful and enlightening Mica.

    H and I will be heading out shortly to attend our church's 5:30pm mass. And then since we are involved with the Lifeteen program, we have our Christmas party and White Elephant gift exchanges as well.
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