Homily: The Gift of Wonderment of the Lord
By Mons. Peter Jeffrey:
The humble Christ-child welcomes us all – that is the heading of Bishop Shane’s Christmas message in Sandpiper (our Diocesan Paper). I imagine I am not alone in saying that it is not easy in the hustle and bustle at this time of the year to wait in anticipation for the celebration of the Christ-event!
True we look back and think about the ‘when and where’ Mary gave-birth to the Babe of Bethlehem and laid Him in a manger. However, we know that we are not just celebrating an event in the past that happened at a particular place and time. We are opening our hearts to the Advent of Christ into our own hearts here and now.
I suspect it is our experience that in the hustle and bustle of this time of the year it is not easy to open our hearts and minds so that we may experience the gift of Christ and His gracious presence with us in the here and now.
In your family homes, little children get excited. They wonder what surprising gifts they will receive. All this gift-giving reflects God’s love for each of us in sending the Divine Son to be born of Mary.
Recently Pope Francis encouraged the beautiful custom of preparing a crib in family homes. Growing up, I remember quite vividly, the cardboard coloured crib that was put in the living room at home. It was a bit old and tattered – in fact the branches of the palm trees were bending over and about to break off – however it helped us to focus on, as we say “the reason for the season”.
We have two of the great Advent prophets in our readings today. Isaiah, using earthy images, says “let the wasteland rejoice and bloom”. Similarly, James says “Be patient brothers until the Lord’s coming”.
Parents witness their young children waiting expectantly to see what gifts wrapped under the Christmas tree may have their names on them. THE gift that has each of our names on it, is the Divine Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in the manger.
It is a beautiful thing that ‘giving’ is a feature of our celebrations. As we move from childhood through adolescence to our senior years, we may notice that we find more pleasure in ‘giving’ than in ‘receiving’. Perhaps above all the gift we want to bring to the coming feast is a heart open to wonderment at the Lord’s outreach to us – to each of us in love and MERCY.
You will notice that this Thursday we are having a Reconciliation Ceremony. We will listen to Isaiah – “A voice cries in the wilderness - prepare a way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God”. Then the beginning of Mark’s Gospel quotes that passage and adds John appeared in the wilderness proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People from all Judea were going out to him.
Did you notice that we are going to have an Advent opportunity for a celebration of Reconciliation. My hope is that we will attract a big congregation to our Rite of Reconciliation on Thursday at 7.00 PM