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Saturday, December 24, 2011
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
On a late evening I had some free time so I went to visit someone in jail. One of the perks of being a priest is that you can usually get access almost anywhere. I had done everything that I was supposed to do to set up all the clearance, got on the chaplaincy list and be approved for visitation. I was expecting to see him face to face. However, when I got to the prison I was surprised by a couple of things. First of all the guard said rather brusquely to me… you’ll see him at number six all the way down. I figured it would be a conference room, but when I walked in to the visiting area it was a line of phones… like you are used to seeing with the glass and the prisoner on the other side.
When I sat down and picked up my phone I was surprised that I wouldn’t even see him behind glass because there was no glass, only a computer screen. I went back out and told the guard that I couldn’t do what I needed to do over skype… she said I would need a court order for that.
What I realized is that no matter how great our technology is it can’t replace the human person, face-to-face. And we love all of our technology toys like the IPhone, Kindle, Ipad, Android and computers; they can’t replace the human touch.
You see, all of the Sacraments require human touch. The sacraments all an encounter with Jesus, incarnate, “in the flesh.” “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
This may be one of the few times you go to mass this year… and people often say “Why do I need to go to church? I can just pray to God on my own.” Well it’s the same reason that Skype wasn’t enough for me to visit that young man in prison, it’s the same reason why a Christmas card or gift can’t replace having your loved ones with you on Christmas. God wants YOU to experience Him “in the flesh.”
I use all of the social media: You can “Friend me” on Facebook, Sign up on my Blog, get “Tweets” from Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Skype, but if it doesn’t bring you here to mass on Sunday, if it doesn’t bring you to experience Jesus in the Sacrament of confession than it is worthless. Because our faith is about a real child, the Son of God, “in the Flesh.”
On Christmas we remember that God comes to us… “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” Jesus wants you to experience him in the priest, to be touched by His community of believers, to Hear his Word in the Proclamation of Scriptures, and above all to receive his Body and Blood in the Eucharist… you can’t do this by yourself… you’d be missing out on what and how He wants to come to you … “The Word made Flesh.”
This Flesh takes the form of a child whose whole purpose in coming into this world was to show us His Father in Heaven.
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me
There is a man in China who has been searching for his son for over 13 years. Guo Gangtang has travelled over 400,000 kilmoters (that’s 240,000 miles) hopeful that he will find the son who was two years old the last time he laid eyes on him.
Although he hasn’t found now 15-year-old Guo Zhong, Gangtang has found seven other lost children for other families.
Chinese children are often stolen and resold to barren couples. Male children, like Zhong, are particularly desirable.
After all these years, what keeps Gangtang going? A lingering hope that he will one day reunite with his son.
“I have a feeling that if I carry on, one day he will come to find me. Maybe he will watch TV or go online and read about me. It may jolt some memory or something that doesn’t fit with the life he knows. Even if it’s not in the next couple of years, even if it’s after he gets marries, it’s not too late.”
These same words could be said of God to you, his child… “I have a feeling that if I carry on, one day you will come to find me… Maybe you will watch TV or go online and read about me. It may jolt some memory or something that doesn’t fit with the life you know… It’s never too late.”
If you have been away from the faith, if you haven’t been to mass, if you haven’t been living the life that you have been created to live… if deep down there is some memory of an experience of God… He is being reborn in you right now this Christmas.
We can hear these words echo in our second reading: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.” God is your Father… He will never give up on looking for you… seeking you… desiring to have you back with him.
This is the whole purpose that Jesus came into this world… to show us to the Father… to reveal to us that no matter what experience we have had of ‘fathers’ here on earth… we have this Father in heaven that loves us unconditionally and never ceases looking for us.
This love is so deep that from the day that Jesus was born, the Father wed himself to humanity... to you personally and individually.
No more shall people call you "Forsaken,"
or your land "Desolate,"
but you shall be called "My Delight,"
and your land "Espoused."
For the LORD delights in you
and makes your land his spouse.
As a young man marries a virgin,
your Builder shall marry you;
and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride
so shall your God rejoice in you.
There’s a YouTube video that has been going around of the British Navy returning home for Christmas. It’s a hilarious video where all of these Navy Men and Women are singing along to Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is You.” It’s really about returning home to their husbands or wives this Christmas. At the end of the video it says… “Returning from Deployment… for Christmas 2011”
One of our parishes is home for Christmas before being deployed to Afghanistan. The wife said to me in front of her children and husband… “This is the greatest Christmas gift I could have… just to have him here with me.”
That’s the love that God has for us… All He wants is to have us Home with Him. And all we should really want is to be with God, our spouse, for Christmas. Listen to the Lyrics of “All I want for Christmas is You.” And imagine God saying it to you and you saying it to God this Christmas.
I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas
This is the greatest Christmas gift… right now… at this mass… we are with God… we are home…
Unlike the young man in the prison we are not separated by glass or phone or a computer screen, He is here with us “In the Flesh.” In the Eucharist. If you’ve been a way for a while go and experience Him “Face to Face” (or behind the screen) in Confession.
Just as the man in China has been searching for his son for over years, God is searching for you hoping and wishing that you will return to him. Realize that you are missing something in your life without him… It’s never too late.
And as a young man rejoices in his bride… and as those men and women in the Navy wanted nothing else for Christmas than to have their spouses. God wants nothing less than you.
He wants you in the Flesh and he wants you to experience Him “In the Flesh.”
This Christmas make his wish come true… come back to Him… “All He wants for Christmas is you.”