Homily for December 23

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
Scriptures for today's Mass



Do you know about the Elf on a Shelf?
• He appears just after Thanksgiving - and you need to give him a name.
• Elf on a Shelf keeps an eye on the behavior
of everyone in your household --
and on a nightly basis relays his observations to Santa Claus.
Elf on a Shelf is a MESSENGER.
• Oh! And you can’t ever touch the elf - that would ruin everything!

So, yes, I have an elf on the shelf on the rectory - and his name is Timmy.
And this is his sister, Tammy.
Now, these elves might, in the night,
travel back and forth to the North Pole
bearing messages to jolly old Saint Nick.
But as for me -
I’d rather put my trust in some other messengers -- angels.
Angels!  In fact, the word angel actually means: messenger.
• Angels travel, too, but they travel
between heaven and earth
between God’s home in heaven and our homes on earth.
• An angel from heaven once came to Mary’s home
to tell her that she would have a child, Jesus - the Son of God.
• And when Jesus was born,
angels came from heaven to earth, to Bethlehem,
and filled the skies with their presence and their music,
their song of God’s glory.
• The story goes that you can’t touch the elf on the shelf-
and, well, you can’t touch angels either because they’re pure spirits.
• But Jesus, whose coming the angel messengers announced,
Jesus came PRECISELY for touching!
He came that he might touch our humanity with his divinity
and that we might touch the Divine in his humanity.
• Christmas is all about touching:
God touching us
and we, in turn, touching one another with God’s love.

So, let’s put Timmy and Tammy away.
Let me show you another image - a more familiar face.
• The child Jesus.
• The One who came as an infant so that we might touch him,
and that he might touch us with the very love of God.
• Here’s the One the angel messenger promised to Mary.
• Here’s the One born in Bethlehem, foretold by the prophet Micah.

There are all kinds of images, tales and stories, traditions and myths
about Christmas (like elves on shelves)
but the one, the only one truly deserving of our hearts’ attention
is the One right here - the Child born in a manger.
He is the greatest messenger of all, come from God to us.
And he’s not only the messenger - he is, himself, the MESSAGE!
He is the WORD made FLESH - for us.

You know, there’s a lot of STUFF going on around us:
CRAZY stuff!

• Crazy stuff in the world, in politics, in the Church, in the news
- and in our own lives and families.
And in the midst of all this stuff we stop to pay attention
to the birth of a Child, 2,000 years ago, in a stable in Bethlehem.
And if all the crazy stuff around you is getting to you,
then, in your prayer, in your heart, in your mind’s eye
• imagine yourself there, in Bethlehem, at the stable
with Mary and Joseph, with the shepherds and sheep
• imagine being there with them
and looking in to the eyes of the Christ Child
• let him look into your eyes…
• let him touch you…
• and then, imagine reaching into that manger
and taking him in your arms.
• Let his touch meet your touch…

And with the message of God’s love
in your arms and in your heart,
reach out and touch others
with the love with which Christ has touched you.


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