Sunday, December 25, 2011

Looking for a miracle? (Christmas homily)

In Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he said:
“Jews seek for a sign, Greeks look for wisdom.”

Another way to say that would be,
some of us want to be impressed with miracles;
others need to be impressed by a good argument.

Which are you looking for this Christmas?

If your faith is frayed or your hope is unsteady?

If you want a miracle, the fact is, miracles happen all the time.

I mean real miracles--things that science cannot explain.

They’ve happened to me.

I remember visiting a patient in the hospital--
arriving as the doctor said,
“your wife won’t make it, say your goodbyes.”
The husband asked me to anoint his wife,
and as everyone was sobbing, that’s what I did.

The doctors said she wouldn’t make it--
but she’s still alive today.

The other day, NPR reported on a miracle:
a boy had a terrible infection spreading rapidly over his body.
The family prayed to Blessed Kateri--
they pinned a medal for her on his pillow next to him.
Like Blessed Kateri, the boy was Native American;
like Kateri, his face was being disfigured by an illness.

The day he received the medal
is the day the infection was stopped and reversed.

I could go on…

But the point is, if miracles were what it took to convince us,
Why would we need more
than the Lord’s miracle of multiplying loaves,
or raising the dead--or rising from the dead himself?

We ask for signs--and we get them--and it’s not enough.

Or, we don’t even notice it happens…
like a child born in a stable at midnight.

So if signs and miracles won’t convince us, how about wisdom?

We could use some wisdom.

In a time when we put all our eggs in the basket
of finance and wealth,
how about, “you cannot serve God and mammon”?

When we boast of our military might,
how we can reach anywhere,
strike anything, and defeat anyone,
how about “Peter, put your sword away!
He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword”?

The Light that came into the world on Christmas
is not what we looked for.
Neither do we really understand it.

It’s power--but not the kind that impresses us,
such as the power of wealth, of fame, of technology and might.
It’s wisdom--but not the kind we produce.

So when God becomes a child
and when God allows himself to be crucified,
we don’t know what to make of it.

If you came today to hear the music, it is beautiful;
but the voices will soon fade.
If you came to see the lights, the manger,
it will all be packed away before long.
If you came to kindle a memory,
how melancholy to look backward!

Just like the first Christmas,
the Light we need is easy to miss.
Just as easy as missing the miracle
of His Death and Resurrection
being made present on this altar--in front of us.
His Body and Blood given as Food, right here.

We look for a miracle--
but the truth is, the Miracle is looking for you!

You’re here because He’s seeking you.

After I’m finished speaking, what will He say to you?

“I don’t need your wisdom, and I don’t want your power.
I want your heart.”

If what you want to see is a world lit up
with the hum and energy of human power and light,
we have that; a satellite will take the picture
and you can download it when you get home tonight!

But how about human hearts lit up by Christ’s light?
Purified by his mercy and set aflame by the Holy Spirit?
Human hearts: reservoirs of the peace only Christ can give?
Human hearts: fountains of mercy from the one who said,
“as you have been forgiven, forgive”?

Imagine a world filled with that Light?

Christ called you here tonight:
To see if your heart was available?


Jackie said...

Merry Christmas, Father.

truthfinder2 said...

This is beautiful, Father. Thank you! --- Rosemary