Homilies

Christmas 2018

 

Mary did you know

That your baby boy will one day walk on water?

Mary did you know

That you baby boy would save our sons and daughters?

Did you know

That your baby body has come to make you new?

This child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when your kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God

Mary did you know…

Mary did you know…

What do we know?

We know that the Roman Empire’s first dictator was Julius Caesar:

-          He considered himself a God and later he required people to honor him as a God

Caesar Augustus, nephew of Julius Caesar

-          called himself son of God and a savior –  He was the first Emperor of the Roman Empire

-          He imposed Roman law on all inhabitants in the empire – declaring his way was the way for peace.

We know God had another plan – a true Savior, a real Son of God, who would bring about a true peace in one’s heart.

We know that Bethlehem is six miles from Jerusalem.  In the fields, there are the sheep that were protected until ready to be brought into Jerusalem, to be sacrificed at the temple.

Also,

We know that David was in Bethlehem.  He was called and anointed to ultimately lead the Jewish people. He went from shepherding sheep; to shepherding people.  He was promised before he died, that one from his line would sit on his throne.  That one would be the long awaited savior.  That savior was to be born in Bethlehem – as foretold 700 years before by the prophet Micah.

We know that –

Mary and Joseph made their 70 mile journey to Bethlehem, seemingly to obey the law; to enroll themselves for the census in the town where Joseph’s family was originally from.Through the eyes of faith, we can see that the journey was in obedience to God’s call; to fulfill the prophecy to have the Savior born in the same small village as his ancestor, David.

We know that, in the Jewish culture of that time, you would never ask anyone anything directly.  So, Joseph would never come out and ask for help.  He would simply have gone to his extended family there in Bethlehem and simply stated that Mary’s time was at hand!  Knowing exactly what that meant, a family member would have offered their stable for the couple.  You see, that blood makes everyone ritually unclean.  Having a child born in the house would affect everyone in that house.  Joseph would never do that to his extended family.  Instead, a private setting with food and blankets from the house would have given to Mary and Joseph all that they would have hoped for.  After the baby was born, women from the house would minister to Mary, Joseph and the newborn child.  Who this baby was would not have been revealed at that time.  Children were not named until the eighth day; at the time of the mother’s purification and the circumcision of all male babies.

We know that Shepherds were viewed by many to be outsiders by the religious leaders; they were considered unclean, physically and ritually; not often going to the temple or synagogue,   seen by most as people of little value.  God saw them differently.  Of all the people who would greet the newborn king, the Lord chose shepherds as the first to hear the good news from the angel.  Overcoming their fear, they went seeking the Savior and found Jesus, just as had been told them.  They worshiped, adored and then went out to evangelize; to tell the world the incredible news; the Savior has been born!

This is what we know.  Now what do we do with this knowledge?  Perhaps you knew all of these facts before.  Maybe you learned a few things by this sharing.  Knowledge is incredibly important because we can see how all of this came together.  The civilian and religious authorities would have seen it all so differently.  What about you?

I began my homily with the well-loved song; Mary Did You know,  Just wondering about Mary and Joseph’s understanding can leave us simply in sweet sentiment, but not a true deepening of faith.  Perhaps that is why some folks come to church only twice a year.  So, we all need to ask ourselves, what does it all really mean?  Clearly God the Father had a masterful plan that brought about Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem some 2000 years ago.  We did indeed really need a savior who was not Augustus Caesar, but a real savior.  It was not political, but spiritual.  We couldn’t save ourselves from our sins on our own.  A perfect sacrificial lamb was needed to be brought into Jerusalem and sacrificed for our sakes.  He was born in Bethlehem, and on that eighth day He was named Jesus, which means God Saves.

So, we need to ask ourselves, can I get to heaven on my own or do I need a Savior?  If I need a Savior, then Christmas is an eternal life-saver.  Now, I need to adore, to praise, to thank, to celebrate – not just once a year but every day.  Jesus came for me – to claim me as His own, out of perfect love for me.  Now, I choose to respond in love.  The babe of Bethlehem grew up to die for me.  That beautiful baby that Mary held was about to change the world.

Mary did you know…