Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Crippled Lamb Christmas Homily

the crippled lamb
The Crippled Lamb. By Max Lucado

Once upon a time in a sunny valley, there lived a little lamb named Joshua.
He was white with black spots, black feet, and … sad eyes.

Josh felt sad when he saw the other lambs with snow-white wool and no spots.

He felt sad when he saw the other sheep with their moms and dads because he didn’t have a mom or dad.

But he felt saddest when he saw the other lambs running and jumping, because he couldn’t.

Josh had been born with one leg that didn’t work right. He was crippled. He always limped when he walked.

That’s why he always watched while the other lambs ran and played. Josh felt sad and alone – except when Abigail was around.

Abigail was Josh’s best friend. She didn’t look like a friend for a lamb. She was an old cow.

She was brown with white blotches that looked like rain puddles on a path.

Her belly was as round as a barrel, and her voice was always kind and friendly.

Some of Josh’s Favorite hours were spent with Abigail.

They loved to pretend they were on adventures in distant lands.  Josh liked to listen to Abigail tell stories about the stars.

They would spend hours on the hill, looking into the valley. They were good friends. But even with a friend like Abigail, Josh still got sad.

It made him sad to be the only lamb who could not run and jump and play in the grass.

That’s when Abigail would turn to him and say:
"Don’t be sad, little Joshua. God has a special place for those who feel left out."

Josh wanted to believe her. But it was hard. Some days he just felt alone.  He really felt alone the day the shepherds decided to take the lambs to the next valley where there was more grass.  The sheep had been in the valley so long, the ground was nearly bare.

All the sheep were excited when the shepherd told them they were going to a new meadow.

As they prepared to leave, Josh hobbled over and took his place on the edge of the group.

But the others started laughing at him.

"You’re too slow to go all the way to the next valley."

"Go back, Slowpoke. We’ll never get there if we have to wait on you!"

"Go back Joshua, you can’t keep up with us."


That’s when Joshua looked up and saw the shepherd standing in front of him.

"They are right, my little Joshua. Go and spend the night in the stable."

Josh looked at the man for a long time. Then he turned slowly and began limping away.


When Josh got to the top of the hill, he looked down and saw all the other sheep headed toward the green grass. Never before had he felt so left out.  A big tear slipped out of his eye, rolled down his nose, and fell on a rock.

Just then he heard Abigail behind him. And Abigail said what she always said when Joshua was sad.

"Don’t be sad, little Joshua. God has a special place for those who feel left out.”

Slowly the two friends turned and walked to the stable together.
By the time they got to the little barn, the sun was setting like a big orange ball. Josh and Abigail went inside and began to eat some hay out of the feed box.

They were hungry and the hay tasted good.

For a little while, Joshua forgot he had been left behind.

"Go to sleep little friend," Abigail said, after they'd finished eating, "you’ve had a hard day."

Josh was tired. So he lay down in the corner on some straw and closed his eyes. He felt Abigail lie down beside him, and he was glad to have Abigail as a friend.

Soon Josh was asleep. At first he slept soundly, curled up against Abigail’s back.

In his sleep he dreamed. He dreamed of running and jumping just like the other sheep. He dreamed of long walks with Abigail through the valley. He dreamed of being in a place where he never felt left out.

Suddenly strange noises woke him up.

"Abigail," he whispered: "wake up. I’m scared!"

Abigail lifted her big head and looked around.  The stable was dark except for a small lamp hanging on the wall.

"Somebody is in here," Josh Whispered.

They looked across the dimly lighted stable. There, lying on some fresh hay in the feed box, was a baby. A young woman was resting on a big pile of hay beside the feed box.

Joshua looked at Abigail, thinking his friend could tell him what was going on.
But Abigail was just as surprised as Josh.

Josh looked again at the women and the child, then limped across the stable.

He stopped next to the mother and looked into the baby’s face. The baby was crying. He was cold. The women picked up the baby and put him on the hay next to her.

Josh looked around the stable for something to keep the baby warm. Usually there were blankets. But not tonight. The shepherds had taken them on their trip across the valley.

Then Josh remembered his own soft, warm wool. He walked over and curled up close to the baby.

"Thank you, little lamb," the baby's mother said softly.

Soon the little child stopped crying and went back to sleep.

About that time, a man entered the stable carrying some rags.

"So sorry Mary," he explained, "but this is all the cover I could find."

"It’s okay," she answered, "this little lamb has kept the new king warm."

Joshua looked at the baby and wondered who he might be.

"His name is Jesus," Mary spoke as if she knew Josh's Question: "God’s son. He came from heaven to teach us about God."

Just then there was a noise at the door. It was the shepherds, the ones who had left Joshua behind.

There eyes were big and they were excited: "We saw a bright light and heard the angels," they began.
Then they saw Joshua next to the baby.

"Joshua! Do you know who this baby is?"

"He does now!" It was a young mother who was speaking. She looked at Joshua and smiled.

"God has heard your prayers little one. This little baby is the answer."

Joshua looked down at the baby. Somehow he knew this was a special child, and this was a special moment.

He also understood why he had been born with a crippled leg. Had he been like the other sheep, he would have been in the valley. But since he was different, he was in the stable, among the first to welcome Jesus into the world.

He turned and walked back to Abigail and took his place beside his friend.

"You were right he told her, God does have a special place for me!"

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"Somehow he knew this was a special child, and this was a special moment."

This is a very special moment and you are in a very special place.

As the altar is prepared and the gifts of bread and wine are brought forth, we will be brought to the stable.  The the laying on of the hands and the prayers of the priest the gifts of bread and wine will be transformed into the "Real Presence" the very "Body and Blood" of Christ.

This altar becomes the Stable where Christ is born for us.

And he has a special place for you and for me, especially those who are weakest among us.

If you can relate to the crippled lamb, then especially now at this time The Baby Jesus longs to be close to you.  Your weakness, your illness, your brokenness, your sinfulness will not keep him away from you.  Rather, it is that very wound that brings Him close to you.

The Baby Jesus needs and desires your warmth, your comfort, your brokenness and uniqueness like no others.

Today on this altar He is born for you.

He came ultimately for the lost sheep.  And maybe you find yourself lost spiritually.   Maybe you have been away from the faith, or from the church or from the Sacraments.  This is a very special time and this is a very special place.  Maybe because of one reason or another you are unable to receive communion this Christmas or maybe you have been disillusioned or disappointed by the church or have felt abandoned by the church: "God has a special place for those who feel left out."

No matter what your weakness, or disability, or difference, or addiction, or sin is, He has permitted it so that He can meet you in it.  He wants to be "warmed" by you and close to you in your brokenness.  You don't have to suffer alone.

If you have been away from the Sacraments maybe now is the special time and the special place to come back.

Every church has regularly scheduled confession times and you can always call and make a special appointment to meet with the priest.  Find out how here. 

Maybe you are reading this and you aren't Catholic, but would like to be.  All are welcome into our faith and all are welcome to receive the Eucharist, but there is a process of initiation.  It's called the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation).  You can do this at any parish or with any priest.

Maybe it is just a situation you are in, a divorce, or an invalid marriage, a sexual relationship outside of marriage.  Maybe you have been abused or abandoned.  Maybe you have felt rejection by those who are supposed to love you the most... The Baby Jesus wants to be near you in your brokenness.  Your suffering becomes an entry way for Him to be born in you.

Many of us come to this Christmas Season struggling for different reasons: it could be depression, illness, grief of the loss of a loved one, a spouse or a child or a parent or a friend.  This is your "cripple"... that feeling of something being wrong, of being left behind, or left out, or in desolation.  That "cripple" is the very reason and the very place of intimacy that the Baby Jesus wants to be warmed by you and to warm you.

You are here providentially today at this special time and in this special place for a reason and for a purpose.

You are so loved by Jesus, by the Father, and by all of us.  You bring us and God warmth without realizing it and we are so grateful to have you here.

Some of you will come forward to receive communion today and in that moment as you take the Body and Blood of Christ into your mouth, as you are fed and nourished by God, Christ is born in you.  Christmas happens every time and with every person that receives communion.  You become one with Christ.  He is in you and you are in Him!  This is a very special time and a very special place.  God is taking on Flesh in and through you.  You become Christ.

You are Christ now.  And as you go out into the world you will be the one who finds the lost sheep, who is comforted and warmed by those who come to you with their wounds, their brokenness, and their sins.  Jesus makes a wonderful promise to us when he says:  "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father."

You will do greater things than the works that Jesus did!  Can you imagine that?  What a special time and a special Season!  What a gift we are given in the Eucharist.  What a blessing that he has called you here today for a very special purpose and he wants to change the world forever through you.

Just as Joshua looked down at the baby. Somehow he knew this was a special child, and this was a special moment.

He also understood why he had been born with a crippled leg. Had he been like the other sheep, he would have been in the valley. But since he was different, he was in the stable, among the first to welcome Jesus into the world.

He turned and walked back to Abigail and took his place beside his friend.

"You were right he told her, God does have a special place for me!"

And he does for you too!



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You can purchase "The Crippled Lamb" here.


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