Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Gift of the Holy Spirit (Sunday homily)

As Christmas approaches,
I imagine you are either thinking about
gifts you still have to get for someone;
or you may be thinking about what gifts you hope to get;
or, you may be feeling badly
because you cannot do as much this year.

The readings focus on one Gift in particular—
a gift everyone needs—even if they already have it;
a gift everyone can give—whether you are very young or very old,
even if you haven’t one extra dollar to spend.

That is the Gift of the Holy Spirit.

Isaiah said: "He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor"—
he has sent us—
there are plenty in our midst who are facing poverty,
and many of us are suddenly facing financial hardship—
including our parish and our school.
We might pray for wisdom from the Spirit to "bring glad tidings."
This might be a good time
to forget about "my parish" and "us or them"
and instead think about, "we’re all in this together!"

"To heal the brokenhearted"—
many families are broken-hearted right now,
because of illness in particular.
Please reach out to them!

"To proclaim liberty to the captives"…
You might remember there are folks in nursing homes
who are often forgotten—
they would love a card or a visit.
And there is no liberty, no release, like the forgiveness of sins:
remember our Penance Service at Saint Mary on Tuesday,
come yourself, and bring someone with you!

The watchword for this Sunday is "rejoice"—in Latin, Gaudete!
It is a command, as we heard from Saint Paul.
It is the reason the color of the vestments
goes from purple to rose.
We are very close to the Day our Salvation dawned on the world.

As it gets dark and chill—both the weather and the economy—
our mood can also darken.
Many find this season not joyful but blue.
In a meeting the other day, discussing the financial situation,
one of our dear Sisters of Charity remarked:
"so much negativity!"
She is 100% right—it is far too easy to be negative in such times.

This is when what Paul commands: "Rejoice—in the Lord!"
becomes a real act of faith. An act of hope.

This, by the way, is one of the many reasons to be thankful—
and we are thankful—
for all our religious men and women
who have given so much to serve us.
We have been blessed, in Piqua,
with the Sisters of Charity,
teaching the Faith and calling us to justice and peace.
A sign of hope by their radical obedience to Christ.

So many religious orders have given us cause to rejoice;
and their elderly members now need us—through our generosity—
to meet their needs in their retirement.
That annual collection is today, and I ask you to do all you can.

First and last, it is the Gift of the Holy Spirit that is our joy.
We’d like a lot of other nice presents this year;
we’d love to see our economy turn around,
we’d love our finances get better.

Please Lord, come and deliver us—
especially those out of work, in debt, living in fear!

But it is the Lord who sends us to one another,
to meet one anothers needs, maybe in ways we never imagined.
Sharing meals, opening our doors in hospitality,
making sacrifices we only heard about earlier generations doing.

But in all that, we will be sharing the Spirit of consolation,
the Spirit of peace, with one another.
In all that, the fire of faith will be burning brightly in us—
and others will see it!

That is our joy—that is our one Gift
we can never lose or break or wear out or no longer need.
That is why we rejoice.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Thank you, Fr. Martin, for an excellent homily. If we spend our energy giving the gifts you talked about, I think we'll find our hearts lifted out of the dark fog...we do indeed have so many reasons to rejoice!
Blessed Advent to you,
Jennifer