2020. december 27., vasárnap

Three Sermons for the Feasts

The Holy Family – With Renewed Eyes 


How can we connect the theme of the Holy Family with our annual thanksgiving? It is worth looking at, first, the theological content, then what our 'emotional intelligence' is saying.  

Today's feast celebrates the human family unit, as well as the ultimate family unit: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Feast of the Holy Family is not just about the Holy Family, but about our own families too. The main purpose of the feast is to present the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families, and for domestic life in general. We celebrate the 'dialectic' of grace: our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the "domestic church" or the "church in miniature." St. John Chrysostom urged all Christians to make each home a "family church." And in doing so, we sanctify the family unit.  

Just how does one live out the Church in the family? The best way is by making Christ the center of family and individual life. Ways to do this include: reading scripture regularly, praying daily, attending Mass at least on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, imitating the actions of the Holy Family, receiving the Sacraments frequently, all done together as a family unit. Just as parenting requires effort and sacrifice, living as a Christian family is a similar toiling but hugely rewarding work. And the good news is that it does not matter if one lives in a single household. In the 'church family' we are always partners of grace.  

Let us also look at the 'emotional content' of the feast when we relate it to our annual thanksgiving. Of course, we are giving thanks for the many gifts of God from the past year. Our health, our work, the time we enjoyed together, and the things we used, which sustained our lives. Today, we are gathered again around the Crib, with the Holy Family. So let the message to our 'emotional intelligence' come through. What are we giving thanks for at the end of the year – as individuals and as a 'Church family'? And this message is the miracle of the Crib. Our thanksgiving is guided by how the members of the Holy Family look upon each other. Let us pause for a second, and connect our hearts with Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus. (…) In the light of their love for each other. Let our heart speak and pray.  

So personally, this light has taught me to see all of us as 'extended' members of the Holy Family. Today I most of all give thanks for incredible gifts of the member of this congregation. Today, as your priest, I can realise and see clearly how much extraordinary talent, experience of life, and goodness is in you. I am really amazed and humbled by the love and faith you have for Jesus, and each other, and for our community.  

I am sure, that our hearts have said the same or similar prayer in front of our mirror, the Crib with the Holy Family. If this vision gets blurred, if we our confidence in our or other's goodness is fading, no worries. In those moments, let us reconnect with the 'mental image' of the feast. Let us recall this crib in front of us and let us listen to the prayer it has taught our hearts today. 



As God's Family 


Happy Birthday! We have come to wish you, our Lord and Saviour, a happy birthday! The conjunction of planets Jupter and Saturn, just few days ago, on Monday, was the same sight that led the three magi to the crib. Friends sent me photos of the bright star, it was shivering to see the lights of the first Christmas.  

Now we are gathered around the Crib as God's family. The newborn baby is loved by Mary and Joseph beyond all words. Like in every parents' life, the birth of a child changes everything. It brings out the best of a mother and a father. Jesus is loved wholeheartidly. Contemplating this love, the chief commandment comes to mind, as the source of this love. 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' Mary, just like Joseph, loves Jesus with all her heart, all her soul, and all her mind. 

The birth of Jesus, the second divine person, the Son becoming incarnate, mobilises not only human love, but Divine Love itself. The Father, our heavenly Father, is also leaning over this spot where we are standing right now. All his love is poured out on this child. This is on outpouring love. The fullness of Love is focused on this family; and we are standing in this limelight. Jesus is loved, fully, we are loved, fully by the Father.  

Pope Francis, in his Christmas Eve homily said that in today we are told by God, the same thing, as the Divine Child is told: 'I love you so much. You are so precious. Don't ever be tempted by the thought that "I am a failure"'.  

Let us allow ourselves to be washed by this shower of love. Let it remove our anxieties, our worries about the pandemic, and make it bearable.  

God knows that our worries and challenges are real. Today, however, and in this Christmas season, he wants us to pray differently. Whenever we share with him our innermost needs, let us keep our eyes on the joy of the Holy Family. Let us make our requests and prayers in the experience of being loved. We stand in front of the crib as God's family. Let it remind us, that this is a place, where God looks upon the Saviour. It means that all situations where this Child and Teacher is present are redeemable! There is no lost cause in his presence. So, let us learn to pray as God's family, drawing strength from the crib's message: from now on, the Redeemer walks by us. 



The Shortest Prayer for Christmas Eve 


This Christmas, just compared with last year's, feels so much different. All of us know why, because of the global pandemic of Covid 19. However, Christmas always is the same. We celebrate the wonderful news, that the Saviour of the World has been born! Like children, yearning for truth, we contemplate the Crib. 

We need this good news more than ever. What is different, perhaps, that the familiar words this year have regained their full weight. We are in such a need of our Saviour, and our Healer, the Incarnate Son of God. Today, on this Holy Night, we can share the expectation of past generations. People cried out to God in times of crisis. For them the Saviour was real. Let us cherish this gift of faith, that God, the Christian message of Christmas has become real for us. 

God was always real, true, and faithful. It was us who have chosen to be 'unreal', unfaithful, and self-centered. Tonight, we celebrate that the Angel's song is real. The pastors are real. The manger, with the animals, with the Mother of God, and Joseph, and with the Baby Jesus is real. Just as we are present for him now. All we have is the gift of our presence. Our prayer is the shortest this evening. Let it echo in us in the coming days. Newborn King, child-Jesus, 'Save us. Use us. Use me'. We all want to be yours. Let this prayer echo in us, in this Eucharist, and on our way home, and when we awake tomorrow morning to savour the good news of tonight: 'Let us all rejoice in the Lord, for our Saviour has been born in the world. Today true peace has come down to us from heaven!' 



Nincsenek megjegyzések: