Isaiah 11:6 - Christmas Tiger

Isaiah 11:6 "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them."

I wonder if the young child who added his you tiger to our crib a couple of year ago knew this passage, probably not, but each year since the tiger has returned to our crib along with all the more traditional figures. I am glad the tiger keeps coming back to remind me of Isaiah prophesy, as I will continue to look forward to the time when all enemies will live together in peace.

A thought for Christmas

For the first time this Christmas I actual read 'A Christmas Carol'. Like all of you, I know the story well. I have watched it many times over the years in many different forms. Classic versions with Albert Finney, George C. Scott, and Patrick Stewart. Fun versions with Mickey Mouse & Kermit the Frog. Even re-worked version with Doctor Who or Jimmy Stewart in 'It's a wonderful life'.

For me the story captures the Christmas spirit. It's bitter sweet. There is joy but also sadness. Christmas is much more than Coke-a-Cola's “holidays are coming”, paint the world red, happy family Christmas images. I think we need to feel a little sadness at Christmas, to let us relish the joy.

At Christmas our Lord came into the world, and because of that wonder we rejoice, but if we look at his first Christmas presents we see his life mapped out. Gold for a king, Frankincense for the priest, and Myrrh for his death. Just listen to the lyrics of the hymn We three Kings. Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying. Sealed in the stone-cold tomb. But His death was His gift to us, the gift that secures our salvation. You can see why I think Christmas needs to feel bitter sweet, but when it does we must relish the sweetness.

And it's one of those moments of sweetness I want to leave you with. As I read “A Christmas Carol” I came across a sentence I hadn't heard before. It read :

“But they didn't devote the whole evening to music. After a while they played at forfeits; for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.”

I wish you all a happy new year, and in the words of Tiny Tim, “May God Bless us, Everyone”

Homily Nativity of the Lord – I wish you a happy and holy Christmas

Homily (Sermon) – I wish you a happy and holy Christmas

The Readings for the Mass During the Day Christmas Day or Nativity of the Lord Year
Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 97
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-18
[There are four masses for Christmas day. The Vigil, Midnight, Dawn and the Day. All these readings can be found at for the next few weeks.]

There is something really special about Christmas. Some of our faith spills out into the rest of the world, for a small time the world thinks of others first, they visit friends and family, they give presents, the think about the poor and needy. The world is genuinely a better place at Christmas, it’s a happier place at Christmas, and it’s a holier place at Christmas. If you think about that, and I really do want you to think about that, isn't it right that our faith should wash across the whole world today.

Because, on that first Christmas day something incredible, something fantastic, something wonderful, something divine happened here on earth. The creator of everything; the creator of you and me; the creator of the seas and oceans; the creator of the land and mountains; the creator of the planets, stars and galaxies; the Word through whom all things were created, came to earth. He came to us, He came to be with us, to teach us, and to save us. He came because He loved us. Isn't that amazing!

I have just read to you the start of John’s gospel, one of the most beautiful and one of the most remarkable passages in the bible. John doesn't tell us about the nativity, he doesn't mention Mary & Joseph, he doesn't mention the stable, the shepherds, the wise men, the angels or Herod. While the other Gospel writers tell us about the birth of Jesus, what happen from the human side. John mirrors the Genesis opening of the Old Testament, he tells us the Divine and eternal story.

John uses a language that’s poetic, beautiful and maybe a little confusing. He talks about Jesus as the Word. We all know words are powerful; they have the power to bring both pain and joy. How do you feel if someone teases or bullies you, and how do you feel when someone tells you they love you. Words are powerful things. John knew his, but that was only part of John’s reason for referring to Christ as the Word.

The first line of John’s Gospel today was, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” This is almost a copy of the opening words from Genesis, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth.” John is deliberately linking  his Gospel to the creation story. John wants you to know, no he needs you to know that Christ wasn’t just a man, he was at the same time God. He wanted you to know that the baby born in that stable was around at the start of everything, had always been there, would always be there, but at that moment in time he came directly into our world, God became man, and walked among us.

So where was Jesus in the Genesis story, you don’t hear Him mentioned by name? But you do, and that’s the main reason why John refers to Him as the word. As God creates the world and universe in seven days, he speaks them into existence.  “God said, “Let there be light” and there was light.

Everything is created because God said something, what was spoken was Words, it was through the Words that all things were created. Jesus was those Words, He was there at the start of everything, He was God, He was the Word that created everything, so John said in today’s gospel, “Through Him all things came to be.”

The coming of God into our world was so important; God spent thousands of years preparing us. Making sure we were ready to hear Christ words, ready to understand the salvation He offers us. He showed the future to the prophets like Isaiah, who left us tempting visions of Christ, “How beautiful on the mountain, are the feet of the one who brings good news, who heralds peace, brings happiness, proclaims salvation, and tells Zion ‘Your God is King!’” Doesn’t this sound like the sermon on the mount.

Our universe is almost 14 billion years old, mankind has been around for 200,000 years, civilisations started about 10,000 years ago, and God has always been there. 6-8 thousand years ago the Old Testament starts to tell us how God choose Israel, and how he prepared them for the messiah, for Christ.

Two thousand years ago, in a stable, in Bethlehem, a light entered our world, a light to shine in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower. Welcome that light, the Word, Christ Jesus, into your hearts today.  Allow it to burn in your hearts, and let it shine on everyone you meet, so that this Christmas it’s your faith that spills across the world and makes it a happier and holier place.

I wish you a happy and holy Christmas, and may God bless us, everyone!

Homily Index

Homily – 2014 2011 Year B – Advent 3rd Sunday

Homily – (Originally 2011 but valid for 2014) Year B – Advent 3rd Sunday

Isaiah 61:1-2, 10-11
Luke 1:46-50, 53-54 Rsp Is 61:10
Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28

Gaudete (Gow-Day-Tay) my friends, Gaudete. Christ is coming, Rejoice.

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the middle of Advent. We take our penitential purple and add a little white for Christ and we get pink. So today we light a pink or rose candle. Today we have the option to wear pink vestments. Today is a day to lighten the penitential mood just a little. Today is a day to stop and think what the coming of Christ means to us, and when we really get that meaning, it's a day to rejoice. That's what Gaudete means, it's Latin for rejoice.

Our reading today are full of joy, exultation and rejoicing.

“My soul rejoices in the Lord”
“I Exult for Joy in the Lord”
“Be Happy at all times.”
“God has called you, he will not fail you”
So today our challenge is to live, to exult, to rejoice, to be truly happy. When you leave today go and do something wonderful. Visit friends, go for a walk, play your favourite music, watch your favourite film, come to the carol service this afternoon, do something you love, and as you do reflect on the joy you feel. Every joy comes from God, so know that the joy you feel is the Spirit flowing through you, and offer that joy to God in love and prayer.

Tomorrow we return to the purple of Advent, a time of preparation. A time to make ourselves ready for the coming of Christ. With all the worldly concerns of Christmas, the shopping, the parties, the trips to family or friends, it's all to easy to forget we are preparing our souls to be ready for Christ. John the Baptist knew he was preparing, and he knew who he was preparing for. It would be wise for us in our preparations to reflect on John's words and actions.

John was different. He lived a humble and meagre life in the desert. He challenged the people of his day, he baptised Jews. No one baptised Jews, Jews were already Gods people, it was only gentiles that needed baptising when they became Jews.

But John's preached that the people needed to repent, to make themselves ready, for the coming of the light. John created such a phenomenon, that the authorities began to question who he was or who the people might think he was.

In the answers to the questions they asked him, he made it clear, he was there only to prepare. To help people prepare. To let them know the lives they were leading fell short of the expectations, of the one who was coming.

Our lives also fall short. We have two weeks to head out into John's wilderness and prepare. Have you been to confession this advent? Have you been to a penitential mass yet? Have you altered your reading this Advent? Have you eaten or drunk a little less? What have you done to prepare?

John, one of the greatest servants of God, gives us an image today of who we are waiting for, who we are preparing to meet. In John's own words, he was not fit to undo the sandal-strap of the one who was coming after him. This seems an odd phrase to us now, but it was a phrase steeped in the culture of the time. A disciple would expect to do anything for his master, to act as his servant in all thing, except undoing his sandals, a task so low that it was only fit for slaves. John's statement today, tell us that he felt, he wasn't even fit to be a slave of the one to come after him. If John wasn't fit to be even a slave of Christ, then what about us.

Well we know the next part of the story, we know that as a result of Christ's gift, Christ's sacrifice for us on the Cross, we are redeemed, we are called to Christ's family as sisters and brothers.

Are you ready to stand here on Christmas day and great your Lord, to welcome the light into the world, to share the divine joy he brings, to offer yourself, to him, to accept the gift he offers you. Are you ready? Have you prepared? You have two weeks my friends.

Joy is coming. Light is dawning. Christmas is almost here. Christ is almost here. Think about that, when the meaning sinks in rejoice, Gaudete (Gow-Day-Tay). Live a little in the pink today, look at everything through rose colour glasses. Tomorrow take a walk with John, find forgiveness for what you have got wrong. Let us all make sure we are ready for Christmas, ready for Chris.