CHRISTMAS MASS SCHEDULE
CHRISTMAS EVE: Wednesday, December 24, 2014
6:00 p.m. – Family Mass
10:00 p.m. – (Christmas Carols begin at 9:30 p.m.)
CHRISTMAS DAY: Thursday, December 25, 2014
NEW YEAR’S MASS SCHEDULE
NEW YEAR’S EVE: Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Mass will be at 5:00 p.m.
NEW YEAR’S DAY: Thursday, January 1, 2015
Mass will be at 10:00 a.m.
Father O’Connor’s Homily for December 14, 2014
Third Sunday of Advent – B
Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24
John 1: 6-8, 19-28
There was a little boy named Ralph who was trying out for the Christmas Pageant. He wanted the role of St. Joseph, but he was given the role of the innkeeper. Ralph was not happy about this. So on the night of the Christmas Pageant, little Ralph decided to take sweet revenge.
Mary and Joseph came to the inn door and Joseph said to Ralph , “Do you have any room for Mary and me in your inn?”
Ralph smiled and said, “I’ve got tons of room – come on in!”
Well, the pageant director began having a heart attack, the audience was stunned, and Mary and Joseph were bewildered. Joseph leads Mary inside the inn, looks around, and Joseph, not to be undone or outdone, comes out and says to Ralph, “Your place is a dump! Mary and I would rather stay in a stable with all the animals than stay here! Come on, Mary!”
God will not be undone or outdone in His plan to save us. We hear the Scriptures of Advent, with all the Old Testament prophets pointing the way to Jesus Christ. We hear about people being unfaithful to the Lord, doing things that were not part of God’s design. And still, God sends His Son to save this world.
That is why, when we look at the mystery of Christmas each year, it is not just a re-run of something that we already know completely. No matter how many Christmases we have celebrated, there is still something new to astonish us, to surprise us. And there is still something to look forward to. Christ came to us in Bethlehem, and He is coming again at the end of time.
John the Baptist was part of God’s plan, announcing the coming of the Messiah, the Savior. And John the Baptist was not himself the savior. He said, in today’s Gospel, “I am not the Christ.” Rather, “I am the voice of one crying in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’ I baptize with water, but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”
We all have a part to play in this pageant of God’s love, and sometimes we mess up on our parts. But God’s plan will not be undone or outdone. God offers us His mercy and gets us back on track again.
We have a graced opportunity for the Sacrament of Penance, to go to Confession, this evening – Sunday, December 14th. All of us priests in our cluster at Saint Sebastian’s, Saint Bernard’s and here at Saint Vincent’s will be in our own confessionals at all three parishes from 6:30 to 8:00 PM. And we’ll leave the light on for you!
If you have not had the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance very recently, I encourage you to come to Saint Vincent’s or Saint Sebastian’s or Saint Bernard’s this evening so that we play our parts the way God wants us to play them – that we “make straight the way of the Lord.”
A man tells a story about a Christmas when he was a small boy. It had been a very painful one. But now looking at it through adult eyes and many Christmases later, he sees how important that Christmas was for him, and how it caused him to become even more aware of God’s plan in his life.
Four days before Christmas as a small boy, his mother went to the hospital. His father was serving in the military overseas. And so a church family, the Hansens, took the Campbell family in for Christmas. Jim Campbell says he remembers standing there at the Christmas tree in the Hansen house on Christmas Eve, when he really wanted to be in his own house with their own tree, with his mother and father.
The Hansen family tried to welcome the Campbell kids. The Hansens always exchanged one gift on Christmas Eve, and the rest on Christmas morning. So they had a gift for each of the Campbell kids. Jim Campbell says when he opened his gift he found a pair of mittens, and he said to himself, “What a dumb gift! I’ve got two pair of mittens at home!” But he was taught to be polite, so he smiled and said thank you to the Hansens.
He went to bed that night and all night long he had mitten dreams: mittens lost, mittens found, mittens given – and it was a dream that never quite left him as the years went on. In fact, he began collecting mittens and giving them to children who were cold. It became a crusade in his life.
Then one Christmas night, he was taking a walk around the church grounds. On a pile of snow he saw a pair of mittens. Right next to it was the Nativity scene. Jim described it as one that we’ve all seen: where the statues are made out of plastic and have lights inside, and there was the Baby Jesus in the manger in the straw with his little hands outstretched on that dark cold December night.
Jim said he went over and put those left-behind mittens on Baby Jesus’ hands. He said it was kind of an absurd thing to do – after all, the statue was plastic. But he remembered something that Jesus had said later on in His life: “Remember, whatever you do for the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me.”
Jim began remembering the mittens he had provided for children who were cold – believing that what he did for them he did for Him. He was thinking about the gifts that people bring for families in need who would go without if it weren’t for others’ generosity. He was thinking about food that was prepared for the hungry, and about people that were visiting others who might be lonely, all the baking that was going on so that others could have a more loving Christmas.
He was remembering the grace of Christmas that could turn even stingy people into generous people. That could turn people who were overworked and over-tired into people who had new energy. That could help people who felt unloved to see the love that is all around them.
Jim put those mittens on the hands of that Baby Jesus in the manger. And he did that with a deep awareness of the presence of Christ among us. That what we do for others we do for Jesus.
Jim played his part in God’s story, and he realized that God’s plan to save us is so rich that there is more to appreciate each year. God will never be undone or outdone in His unending love for us.