Dear Friends, we are concluding our journey through Advent this next week and awaiting with joy all the ways that our brother Jesus chooses to come into our lives beginning with Christmas and on through our life times. Our faith calls us to be aware and to see all the opportunities to come to know Jesus better through all those who come into our lives–because, you see, he is there if we can “see” more with our hearts instead of only with our heads. We will gather on Christmas Eve for a Zoom Mass and details of that will come next week. Hopefully, many of you reading this can join us–everyone is welcome whether you are a regular member or not! Wishing you all the best gifts of this Season–peace, love and joy! Please be in touch if I can help in any way–by phone, 507-429-3616 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. My gratitude to each of you, Pastor Kathy
Let the clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.
Let Us Pray
All-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces his glory and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for his coming. We ask this through Jesus the Christ, who lives and loves us, forever and ever— Amen.
- 2 Samuel 7: 1-5,8-11,16
- Romans 16: 25-27
- Luke 1: 26-38
My friends, we have come to the last Sunday and week of the Advent Season as we await in memory that first coming of our brother and friend—Jesus, the Christ into our human existence.
The point of the Scriptures today seems to be to “root” our friend and brother—Jesus, clearly into the history of the Israelite people—through the family of David, a shepherd. The other piece to remember as we read today’s Scriptures is that this “rooting” in Old Testament times was seen to have happened through the male line, thus we have the addition in today’s gospel reading from Luke that mentions the fact that Mary is engaged to Joseph who is of the “house of David,” even though, if we believe the entire story laid out in this gospel reference; Joseph will have nothing to do with Jesus’ conception or ultimate humanity where genetics are concerned.
The piece that the text does not mention is the fact that Mary is of the house of David too; but at this time, women weren’t seen as contributing anything to a birth except as a receptacle for growth, thus the omission of this significant aspect.
Unfortunately, this misguided notion, that genetically, women played no part in determining their offspring prevailed well into the 19th Century, probably because the science wasn’t yet there to call a lie to this fallacy even though most people could see the likenesses of women in their children. And if truth be told, the patriarchy that prevailed in Church and State for far too long helped to hold these ideas in place.
But, by 1854, it was realized that women did play a significant part in the creation of children, thus, Pius IX found it necessary to establish the dogma of the Immaculate Conception which states that Mary, the mother of Jesus was conceived without the stain of original sin, so as to make her, in their eyes, a “perfect” receptacle for the Messiah.
Now, that seems all nice and tidy—right? Wrong! You see, the very definition of humanity includes the fact that we are not yet perfect, therefore, if Mary was without sin at birth and ever after, then she wasn’t human and couldn’t give that component to Jesus, who as God simply wanted to be one-with-us, perfect or not.
Again, unfortunately; we see the Church, in its hierarchy, trying to move our God, far away—on a pedestal, out of sight and certainly not a part of our everyday, messy, at times, lives. I always think of Paul’s wonderful letter to the Philippians, chapter 2 where he says of Jesus, “His state was divine, but he did not cling to it, but became as all of us are…” Now, that doesn’t sound like a God who wanted to come into a perfect existence, but rather one of possibilities.
We see this same problem of humans not getting it right in the first reading from Samuel today. David, whom we know started his life as a shepherd boy, the youngest of Jesse’s 8 sons, the most unlikely pick for king, was in fact, the one, chosen; not because he was perfect, but because God saw his potential if he was given the chance.
David, like us, had to learn as he moved through his life. The Scripture selection chosen today includes David’s concern that a temple be built to house the Ark of the Covenant. In David’s mind, God needed a temple because he—David lived so lavishly that it only seemed fitting that God “be housed” in like manner. We see that God doesn’t address David’s concern, because what God wants is that David would become a good king who truly cared for his people.
This theme of being a “good leader”—someone who basically says, “Yes” to God and then proceeds on, not always knowing at the outset what the “yes” will mean, follows through each of today’s readings culminating in Mary’s “yes” in Luke’s gospel to give birth to the Messiah.
The “glory,” we see comes not through power and wealth amassed, but through the person called; David-Mary-Jesus and us!
The Advent and Christmas-time Scriptures always include the fact that Jesus, our Savior, mentor and friend comes for the poor and he shows this by his own birth in Bethlehem, in a stable with shepherds among his first visitors. A good time to remember that David began as a shepherd too!
So, what am I saying—that we must all be shepherds? No! But what we must be about is simplicity in our lives. We must be about truth—and about more than amassing wealth and status. Jesus came simply into our existence to show us the face of God in human form so that we could then go out and do likewise.
If we get lost in the material, forgetting the love as my mother-in-law, Margaret was fond of saying, then; we will never be able to see the face of God in others!
I spent time at the beginning of this homily trying to set the story straight where women are concerned in the whole of Salvation History, because this is part of the truth of why Jesus came. He came for each of us, to lift up our humanity, basically saying, by his presence in it, that, “It is good!”
Our task then, as his followers, is to continue this good work, saying by our own actions of inclusion, justice, mercy and love, that we, in fact—get it! We understand that the heart, which is wiser than the head, is what it is all about, as we face every day life and people.
So, my friends, this Christmas-time, let us be about love, not judgment, not rule-keeping, and not about the cross in our “rear-view mirrors,” not worshipping God in the too small boxes that have been given us, but widening our view, “opening some windows,” and thus, seeing through hearts that can include all! Amen? Amen!
Prayers of the Faithful
Response: “Come, Jesus, Come.”
- O God, as we complete our Advent waiting—help us to remember what a gift you have given us in Jesus entering into our humanity, we pray—Response: “Come, Jesus, Come.”
- O God, may the wisdom and grace of the Spirit overshadow all the newly elected to be people who will truly work to care for the least among us and strive to bring peace to our country—uniting us under this common purpose, we pray—Response: “Come, Jesus, Come.”
- Loving God, give each of us health of body, mind, and spirit–especially those struggling with COVID at this time—give each one your strength and wonderful gift of peace, we pray—Response: “Come, Jesus, Come.”
- For those in our midst who have less than the basics of life, help each of us O God, to be challenged to do what we can to make a difference in their lives, we pray—Response: “Come, Jesus, Come.”
- O God, as we come to the end of a year and look forward to a new one with new beginnings, let us strive to be people of peace, not war—help us to remember that Jesus has glorified our humanity by his presence in it and help us to treat people and our world accordingly, we pray—Response: “Come, Jesus, Come.”
6. Loving God, be the strength for what each of us most needs in life, we pray—Response: “Come, Jesus, Come.”
- For our community, All Are One, give us welcoming hearts to be open to all who come to us; give us patience to be the people you want us to be, we pray—Response: “Come, Jesus, Come.”
- Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, from COVID and all other causes—give them your peace, that they may find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Come, Jesus, Come.”
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts and for those of others—then response
Let Us Pray
Loving God, fill each of us with your goodness—goodness that can see beyond our own needs to the needs of others. As we prepare for your wonderful coming among us, let us hearts always to be open to new ideas, ways we haven’t thought of yet to make our world better. As you came simply into our world, help us to search out ways to live more simply in order that we can be good stewards of our planet. Surround us constantly with your love and mercy and help us to respond to our world through these same gifts. We ask all of this of you, Creator, Savior, Spirit, God, living with us and loving us forever and ever, Amen.
Let Us Pray—Again, we won’t be together in person, but through our hearts, remembering that Jesus is always with us!
Prayer of Communion
O Jesus, as Christmas draws near make us grow in faith and love to celebrate your coming, you who have graced our humanity by entering into it. We ask this in your holy name—Amen.