Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas word

1 Christmas C (25 Dec 2006) Is 9. 1-6; Ps 96; Tit 2. 11-14; Lk 2. 1-14
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
If You Are Willing

’Twas the night before Christmas and flocked to God’s house
Singles and infants; people widowed; and others with spouse.

Some came all stressed; others were just plain tired out.
Most dazzled in their finest. More wondered, “What’s Christmas about?”

Each year to Bethlehem’s babe we give our memories play
With kind nods his way. But do we grow with him each day?

God become flesh: that’s an astonishing wonder!
How often we consider it as God’s dizzy blunder.

“Who says that about one’s own child,” I ask?
The least babe’s a wonder to hold, not one more task

Even when bad dreams, cholic, measles--or worse--
Plague one’s baby, she’s a gift not a curse.

We wonder, “What could our infants say if they spoke?”
We decide their coos and cries are an appeal or a joke.

So return to the manger and what do you hear?
The silent wonder of Mary and Joseph, bright in a tear?

The cough of an ox, the bleat of a lamb or the moo of a cow
Might ruffle your ear. Or, your eyes glimpse a shepherd’s slight bow.

Hearing and sight might fog over when your nose does rebel
At the pointed, warm odors of that animal-shelter smell.

Whether we say them aloud or hold thoughts within
We, the sensors, act as the doers as we take it all in.

Even if we were nearby where those shepherds lay
To hear that wondrous message that the angels did say,

It is all about Jesus, God in the flesh, heaven on earth.
The meaning of Christmas for us is to grow with his birth.

As Jesus grew he learned what we learn, he suffered alike.
Reflecting on his experience, beginning as a tike,

Jesus had something to say. It’s our turn to listen to him
Not to put our meaning into his mouth or to limit him.

To let Jesus be Jesus, youth, adult, God’s Dear One,
Is how Joseph and Mary grew daily with their son.

Yes, his parents did much to help Jesus come to his own
And they did much more by their hearts’ pondering tone:

Mary treasured all these words, pondering them in her heart.
The shepherds took in the angels’ words well enough for their part:

They made known what had been told to them about this child.
Do we think we know more than they, yet only make mild

Mention of Immanuel with what we say and by how we act?
God in Christ grew up with us: that’s Christmas fact.

Our life-task, our gift to God, is to grow in the Prince of Peace,
Who teaches us to live justly and to enjoy it without cease.

Take with you what Christmas means, if willing you are:
“let [God] happen to you, meet you,” love you as you are;

Let God shape your way of looking at everything;
Let God sweep and gather your entire being /1/

Into God’s mystery of the Incarnation, Immanuel,
Who grows in us welcoming him daily, not just one birthday revel.

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, Palestine

1 Joseph P. Whelan, S.J. “Jesuit Apostolic Prayer,” The Way Supplement 19 (Summer 1973), 18-19 (original emphasis).

Photo by sailorwind. Permission to use under this Creative Commons Deed 2.5.

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