Advent Monday 4 (20 Dec 2010)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
The days are nearing when we shall observe our annual celebration of the Incarnation. To help us celebrate with more lively hearts I would like to reflect with you on our responsorial psalm. Besides yesterday and today, the church uses Psalm 24 on All Saints as well as on the Presentation of the Lord and feasts of Mary.
The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it remind us God is the creator of all: and God creates at each moment. The psalm describes the creator as also God [the] Savior, and it further describes that people long to see God’s face. To see God’s face is not about eyes only. It is about presence: we see each other’s faces this morning because we are with one another.
The Incarnation is God’s eternal decision to visit us in our humanity as one of us. The Incarnation fulfills our dream to be in the divine presence. We enjoy God’s presence now only mediated by one another in various ways: around the tables of God’s word and God’s son; in sharing prayer with one another and praying for each other; in studying, speaking about and reflecting on God’s word and sacraments as well as our faith journeys with each other; and both in receiving love and sharing it, to name a few.
Sharing love in concrete ways shows our fidelity to our ever-faithful creator. That is the best way you and I demonstrate, in the words of the psalm, that our hands are sinless...and our heart[s are] clean. Sharing love in concrete ways, Jesus reminded us, is how we gain salvation, our share in his risen life for ever. Sharing love in concrete ways leads us to join all the saints. Sharing love in concrete ways is how Jesus presents himself anew to people through us.
To allow Jesus to present himself anew through us calls us to be open to being surprised by how Jesus desires to present himself to us. Mary was open to Holy Spirit conceiving her son, even though her experience suggested it was outlandish as well as scandalous. By contrast many generations before Mary, Ahaz refused to allow Prophet Isaiah to upset his alliance with a foreign power or to be surprised by God’s fidelity to the lineage of David, fidelity more real & lasting than international alliances.
Psalm 24 reminds us of God’s fidelity as creator and savior. Psalm 24 also invites us to renew and deepen our sharing love in concrete ways. Psalm 24 encourages us to allow Jesus to enter our lives in the subtle, surprising, challenging and comforting ways which mark his becoming human so we can become more godly. To say that again: the Incarnation began our salvation.
Wiki-image of Leonardo's Annunciation angel is in the public domain.