Saturday, December 22, 2012

Too little...but not too late! (Homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent)

Bethlehem was too small.
Elizabeth was too old.
And everyone involved was poor.

A lot of times, it seems as though what Christianity preaches is conformity.
And folks who don’t fit in well,
stay away because they expect they won’t fit in with us.

Like all stereotypes, there’s some truth to this.
There has always been the temptation to worship God for the wrong reasons.
Sometimes we think of religion as a kind of insurance policy.
If I do the right things, God will reward me.
So, when bad things happen, it calls the whole thing into question:
what did I do wrong?

This is what the Book of Job, in the Bible, is about.
Job figured that wealth and prosperity
were what he got in exchange for drawing close to God.
Only after he lost all those other blessings
did he understand that what he got for drawing close to God…
was God himself!

Our goal in sharing our Faith isn’t that those who join us here
come to be more like us;
But to be like Jesus Christ!

If our Savior walked into our church this morning,
I don’t believe he would have purple-streaked hair, or earrings, or tattoos.
But the people coming in with him might!

Now it is true that we Catholics make bold claims:
God spoke to us; God said, this is how to live.
It’s not because we are so close to God--
but because God chose to come so close to us.

Every time someone says, “this is too much!”
We remember Him who said, “Take up your cross.”
And when someone says, “you Catholics don’t live it!”
We admit it, remembering the sinner who begs for mercy, is us.

Yes, we are very bold to say that Christ invites us
to live by values that are cattywumpus to the values of our world.

Guess what, Christians: we are the misfits!

We believe in law and justice--but never vengeance.
We aren’t communists: wealth and individual freedom are good;
but we aren’t soulless capitalists, either: we don’t worship the Dollar,
And the marketplace doesn’t solve everything.

We enjoy the good things of life: wine, women and song!
When we do penance, we don’t give up bad things, but good things:
chocolate, meat, movies and beer.
They’re so good—because they reflect God’s goodness—
that we may be tempted to love them…too much.

In a world that worships power, popularity and success—
And we Christians bow down to them, too!—
We need to come to Mass each Sunday and holy day
to humble ourselves before a God who was humiliated, cast out, and killed!
So for all the folks who are too young, too old,
Too many sins, too many scars,
Too many failures, too many burnt bridges,
Too late…

Christmas—and Christ—is for you.

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