Homily – December 19, 2021

IV Sunday of Advent
Year C

Vocations Homily
Blessed Sacrament, Greenfield

I don’t know about you, but I love thunderstorms… When I was a kid, my grandfather and I would sit on his big front porch and watch the storm … the flashes of lightning and peels of thunder were just strangely magnificent. Even today, I still sit outside when it rains… Not everybody is as thrilled by a storm as I am… In fact, there is an old story of a young boy who was petrified of storms. During a particularly violent storm one night, he was trembling underneath the covers of his bed. At one loud crash of thunder, which seemingly shook the whole house, he made a beeline for his parents’ bedroom… He flung open the door, dove into their bed and grabbed his mother with all his might. “What’s the matter?” She asked him. “I’m just so frightened by the storm” he said. “Well, didn’t you pray to God?” “Yes”, he replied, “but I needed something with skin on it!”

“Let us see your face and we shall be saved…” Taken from Psalm 80 it expresses the lament of the community over military defeat. Their prayer is that He will turn to them and let Himself be known – seen – to save them, once again, from the grip of their enemies.

How difficult it can be for us too, to “see” God. He, at one time, walked this earth, He had skin … but now, today, He is in heaven … how then are we able to see Him? I don’t think, however, that seeing is the real issue. What was John the Baptist able to see inside his mother’s womb? Not much. Elizabeth as well, could not see Jesus inside Mary’s womb – let alone Mary herself. Seeing is not the problem. We are. Too often we see only ourselves. Our “enemies” – problems, needs, anxieties, worry, anger, sins, etc. We see only ourselves and then wonder why we cannot see God; ask why He doesn’t answer our prayers – we think He doesn’t see us or notice or pay attention… all the while we are fixed on ourselves – we are the ones who are blind.

Seeing is believing, they say…. But seeing isn’t the issue … think about it… if you read a fiction book, you must imagine the characters – what they look like, how they sound, what the scenery looks like … all of this is possible… All that we need to see and to believe is right before our eyes. Look around – the statues, the candles, the artwork… all of which tell a story that helps to open up the eyes of our hearts – to faith – to see Christ. All these visuals lead us and orient us toward a felt and known presence … That which touches the senses has the capacity to lift the soul….

John the Baptist could not see, Elizabeth, Mary could not see… but they felt Him, they rejoiced in His presence. Just because we cannot see the face of Christ does not mean He is not in our midst. It doesn’t mean that He doesn’t see us or notice us. Sometimes we get so blinded by our enemies – blinded by ourselves – that we cannot see… We have only to look more closely, more deeply at Him who is present under the form of bread and wine to realize that this IS His presence among us, this is how we see Him today… This is our “skin” … And it is far more valuable, more consoling, more efficacious than a hug … Because this is how God enters our very being … If we but put aside our selfishness, let go of past hurts and grievances, confess our sins … our darkness turns to light, blindness to sight …

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