Sunday, December 13, 2009

You are the apple of my eye!


Image: English 101

I'm not feeling well this weekend: a massive cold has invaded my chest, throat and head and my public speaking abilities have been hit hard. In light of that, at Mass this morning I told the people that I'd give an "express" version of my four page homily. The prepared text appears below but looking back on this morning's experience, I think I liked the express version better.

I'm wondering if there's a homiletic method here: write the homily and then deliver what the preacher believes to the heart of it, without benefit of the text. Any preachers out there work it this way? If my (unobjective) take is correct, I ended up delivering the main point and adding a few good elements that hadn't been in the text. Result: I was more pleased with the delivered homily than I am with the original text. Something for the preacher to ponder!

And since most who read what's here won't have heard my delivered homily, please keep any comments to what's in the text below - thanks!)


Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent
(Scriptures for this Sunday's liturgy)

Most of us don’t have much trouble imagining that God is
unhappy with us,
or annoyed by our behavior,
or pointing an accusing finger in our direction.

Some are convinced that God has abandoned them
or forgotten them
or just lost track of them.

But I’ll wager that most of us have a difficult time
imagining what the prophet told us in the first scripture,
that God rejoices over us,
takes delight in us -
sings at the top of his lungs because of us!
And not just "us" as a group
but rather that God takes delight in each of us:
me and you, and you, and you and you -
in each and every one of us...

We understand this in our own family relationships
but we find it near impossible to believe
in our relationship with God.

Parents, in general, are bothered, in general, by their children, in general!
Parents are often unhappy with how their children act;
often annoyed by their behavior
and often point an accusing finger at their sons and daughters.

But we seldom conclude that on account of this
it must be that those same parents don’t love their children,
don’t delight in their children,
that their hearts don’t sing for joy over their children.

Indeed, good parents love their children
in spite of their children’s faults and mistakes.
Good parents love their children
not because their children have earned or merited that love.
Good parents love their children
precisely and simply because they are their children.
Good parents are not blind to their children’s faults
nor do they forget or abandon their children
when their children stray.

Quite the opposite is true.

The farther a son or daughter strays from a parent’s embrace,
the longer the reach of the parent’s arms stretching out
to touch, to find, to bring that child back
not to punish, but to embrace all the more closely
lest the beloved child stray again.

As a mother sings a soft lullaby to her little boy,
as a father takes pride in his daughter’s accomplishments
as parents watch with love and joy
as their children grow up and make their own way,
so does our God “rejoice over each of us in gladness,
singing joyfully because of us, because of who we are:
his beloved, his delight, the apple of his eye.

To miss this aspect of God’s love for us
is to miss the heart of Christmas
wherein God becomes a mother’s child, nursing at her breast,
cradled in her arms,
God becomes a boy raised by Joseph in his carpenter’s shop,
teaching his son to work with wood.
Joseph had no notion that the wood of the Cross
would take the life of the child
in whom Joseph and Mary found their joy.

Even if our parents failed to love us
as they ought to have loved us,
we should find peace in knowing that never fails
in loving us, his daughters and sons.

If nothing else in this Advent season,
let us pray that each of us will know, will believe,
will glimpse how much our God takes joy in each of us,
forgives our failings and delights in who we are,
each of us: a son, a daughter of God.

Such is God’s joy in loving us that for each of us is prepared
a seat at the table of his Son, our elder brother,
who gave his life that we might know
how much we are loved, that indeed,
our God sings for joy – on account of each of us.

-ConcordPastor

8 comments:

Carol said...

Amen! And I am praying that your cold will go away quickly.

NC Sue said...

The sort of God-love you refer to puts me in mind of Isaiah 49:15-16 -

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."

Feel better, Father!

agnes said...

Prayers for a speedy recovery!

michelle said...

...oh, help me hear that song of joy...

Fran said...

Oh my - so many prayers for you, I hope you feel better soon.

Anonymous said...

I preach somewhat like you describe. I prepare my homily but never preach from paper. I always preach from the church aisle, keeping an outline of what I have prepared in my head. It allows for "editing" as I go on through the different Masses over the weekend and the ability to gauge response of the congregation----there are people at each Mass that I have found to be very responsive in their facial expressions, so I know if the homily is going well or not. It's interesting to hear the comments of those parishioners who might be at more than one of the parish Masses on a weekend and the changes they noted in my homily as it evolves through the Masses.

ConcordPastor said...

Great to hear from a brother preacher!

Anonymous said...

I don't often think of Jesus as my elder brother, but I like that thought. My father used to speak of Jesus as his brother, so this brings back some happy memories.

May you be well soon.

Rosemary