Posts Tagged ‘Emmanuel’

Christmas Mass

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2014/12/25 at 12:00 AM

 France has long been called the “Eldest Daughter of the Church,” mostly because of the deep way our Christian faith took root in that country in the earliest centuries of our Church history.
 The faith came to life in France like in no other country, which can be seen in the fact that so many of our greatest saints and so many of our most beautiful Catholic churches and works of art are to be found within her borders.
 Considering the historical greatness of the Catholic faith in France, it really should come as no surprise that the downfall of the Catholic faith in France was so heinous and horrifying.
 St. Peter tells us that satan prowls the world like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and what greater prey could he have had than a country like France was 250 years ago?
 In a Reign of Terror that made our revolution here in America look like a tea party, the French Revolution of the late 18th century sought to strike a blow to the faith in France by a wholesale assault on the Catholic Church.
 Indeed, the French Revolution was not only an assault on the Church, but an assault on God Himself. To the revolutionaries nothing was considered sacred.
 Indeed, hundreds of priests and nuns were sent to the guillotine, and as if there were not enough, many of the Church’s goods and treasures were confiscated, and countless church buildings and works of art were destroyed.
 This is because the revolutionaries knew that to root out the faith and to limit the Church’s influence, they had to destroy not only the living embodiments of our Faith – the priests and religious – but also the images and icons that testify to what we believe.
 Like the iconoclasts of old who thought it heretical to have manmade images of our Blessed Lord and the saints, the French revolutionaries sought to destroy the Church’s ability to evangelize humanity by destroying her art and architecture.
 Now, over 200 years later, we can see that while the Catholic faith has not been completely extinguished in France, the revolutionaries certainly succeeded in maiming the Catholic faith of the Church’s eldest daughter.
 They were successful in part because of their destruction of our art and architecture. You see, my brothers and sisters, our faith is incarnational by its very nature!
 Our beautiful works of art are not simply decorations to enhance the aesthetics of a church building. Our architecture is not meant to be simply a method of providing a place for us to worship.
 Beautiful art and architecture that is truly sacred makes the invisible, visible. Sacred art and architecture serve to remind us not only of the particular mysteries of our faith, but that God Himself is something that we can perceive with our senses.
 And that is precisely what we celebrate every year with this joyful feast of Christmas: that God is not an abstraction or some grand figment of the collective imagination of mankind. God is real!
 Knowing that man often tends to be feckless and fickle in the weaknesses of human nature, our blessed Lord knew that He to be something that man could see and touch and hear in order to get man’s attention and save man from his sins.
 And so in act of love beyond all telling, an act of infinite self‐giving, our Lord Jesus Christ became man. At the assent of a teenage virgin in the city of Nazareth 2000 years ago, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
 And tonight we see His glory: the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth!
 Our blessed Lord became flesh and dwelt among us not simply to prove that He is real, but so that He could deliver us from our sins through His death on the cross. In short, Christ was born for us so that He could die for us.
 Thus Christmas is, in this sense, a precursor to Good Friday! We see this from the moment He was born.
 So poor was Jesus when He was born that His virgin mother laid Him in a wooden manger – a feeding trough for animals – foreshadowing the supreme moment of His life when our Lord would feel course wood against His back again on Calvary – poor and naked once as the day He was born.
 But in His generosity, it was not enough for our Lord to live and die for us. His incarnation was not only a gift to those who lived at the same time as He. Jesus is Emmanuel, God‐with‐us, and He is with us even now!
 We hear Him speaking to us through His Word contained within Sacred Scripture.
 In His mercy and goodness our Lord becomes present for us again at every Mass in the
miracle of Eucharist. In the Eucharist, which is His body, blood, soul, and divinity, our

Lord remains something that we can see and touch and even taste.

 No, my dear brothers and sisters, God is not an abstraction. He is not a fairy tale. God is
as real as you and me, and tonight we celebrate our Lord as a tiny babe born to the

Virgin Mary.

 Our world is dark today, and in the darkness of our world today it is often difficult to
see and know God. Indeed, faith is something most of us have to work at.

 In the busyness of modernity, it is easy to lose sight of this tiny baby born for us 2000
years ago.

 But Christmas confronts us with a decision: the decision of whether or not to believe
this truth and to live our lives like we believe it.

 For if we truly believe that Jesus is God, then we need to live in a way that is pleasing to
Him by fulfilling His commands, most especially the command to love Him above all

things and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

 And so for the past couple of Sundays I’ve been asking you, who or what is it that you
worship? For worshipping is an inescapable reality for man.

 Do you worship this God Who became man for us on this night some 2000 years ago in
the tiny village of Bethlehem?

 Trusting in His our Lord’s goodness and generosity, let us recommit ourselves tonight
to worshipping this tiny child who birth we are celebrating. Let us place all our faith and hope in Him, trusting that He is not only real, but that He will save us from our sins.


25 December 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
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The Annunciation by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/03/24 at 9:11 AM

• Today, my dear brothers and sisters, we enter this church with great anticipation. Our hearts are hopeful, for the Virgin Mary has heard that she will conceive and bear the Son of God, the Savior of the World.

• He is to be called Emmanuel, God with us, for this Son is both God and man, our savior and redeemer. In offering this Son to Mary, the Father – through the intrepid service of the archangel Gabriel – has offered to her the very price of our salvation.

• Like those condemned to die for their sins, we look to Mary as the only sure hope of reprieve. Her yes gains us pardon and calls us back to life. Through her fiat salvation is born for all mankind.

• So we beg her this day to answer quickly. As St. Bernard once wrote to our Lady: “Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous.”1

• And so it is that our Almighty Lord, Emmanuel, God with us, comes to dwell miraculously within the womb of one of His creatures. To be sure, our Lady is the highest honor of our race, immaculately prepared for her role in salvation history from the first moment of her conception.

• But she is a creature nonetheless, and the annunciation of our salvation and Mary’s acceptance of this august role in the salvation of all mankind is therefore a cause of great wonder and rejoicing, for the mystery of the Annunciation is the sign that God is desires to with us as well.

• Our Lord was with Mary in a very particular way as He dwelt enfleshed within her sacred womb, the tabernacle par excellence. Her fiat opened the door for Him to enter and dwell within her, making her the Mother of God, and by extension, our mother, too.

• But because Mary allowed our Lord to dwell within her, she has now opened the door for Him to enter the world and dwell with the whole human race!

• Though our Lord’s earthly life was a mere 33 years, and though He has died, rose again from the grave, and ascended into Heaven, He still comes to dwell within us: at our baptism.

• It is in that most sublime moment of our lives that we make our own personal fiat, asking Him to dwell within our souls. When we pass through the saving waters of baptism, He comes, as surely as the sun rises in the east every morning, bringing with Him that grace by which we are saved.

• But at our baptism our Lord doesn’t just come to dwell within us. He also takes us to Himself. He comes to dwell within us, but at the same time He makes us a member of His mystical body so that we may dwell within Him.

• At our baptism a covenant is formed between us and our Lord in which we promise to give ourselves fully to Him, and our Lord promises to give Himself fully to us. And every time we receive Holy Communion worthily, that covenant of grace is consummated and renewed.

• But all of this is only possible because one young woman agreed to say yes first. Our Lady with grace and humility, both sublime and gentle, allowed God’s will to be done, and we are the beneficiaries.

• So my dear brothers and sisters, let us give thanks this day to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, for without her fiat we would all be lost.

• And let us pray to our dear Lord above that we may be made worthy sons and daughters of so noble a mother.

1 St. Bernard, In Praise of the Virgin Mother.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC