Christmas Baskets Mass 2019

     Have you ever stopped to imagine what people 500 years from now will think about our society? Well if they come across a copy of our newscasts and use that to draw conclusions about our culture they will certainly be surprised that the world still exists. After all it seems that every time we turn on the news all we see is evil and suffering. It’s to the point that I find myself trying to stay away from the news, not because I want to be uniformed but because if I pay too much attention it, I can easily find myself slipping into hopelessness, bitterness, and cynicism.

     If this is you, then the prophet Isaiah is speaking directly to you in today’s first reading. Here Isaiah speaks words of encouragement that God is coming to heal and liberate. God is coming to set things right. He tells his audience that when God comes He will do all kinds of amazing things; the blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the mute will sing.

     Well what happens in the gospel? “The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”[1] Jesus, the Son of God, has come and has proved who He is by fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets, but sadly, many people who witnessed his miraculous works remained in their hopelessness, bitterness, and cynicism?

     What about us? I’m afraid that our world has been surrounded by so much evil noise that it can be easy for us to become deaf to the great things God is working in our society. That’s where we as Catholic Christians come into play. Since we like Isaiah, know that God has the final word, our “Christian optimism is based on the fact that we don’t fit into the world.”[2] We know that even though sin and death abounds all around us, Jesus has already conquered sin and death. It’s our job then to speak up, to break the deafness of evil and allow people to hear the saving message of Jesus Christ. After all “to follow Christ means to become one who loves as God has loved.”[3]

     For thousands of years God has been using all kinds of people; saints and sinners, rich and poor, wise and foolish, young and old, men and women, to spread His message of hope and as we prepare to welcome Him into our hearts at Christmas, He is calling each of us to bring His hope to the discouraged, to break the deafness of evil. Since “charity is an expression of God and an extension of Christ’s presence in the world”[4] we are called to imitate Christ and reach out to those who need us. No matter how dark our world seems, we must have our ears opened to understand that “the other person is always a treasure and a precious gift that God offers to help us grow in humility, humanity and nobility.”[5] For when we imitate how Jesus treated the poor and the vulnerable in the gospels, we too can open the ears of the world. We can sow hope and begin to heal and restore our culture.

     Friends, if we want to break the deafness to evil that exists in our society today we need to do small things with great love. Isn’t it amazing how being the recipient of a simple act of kindness can change our whole outlook for the day and can spur us on to continue that chain of kindness? Today’s Christmas Basket Blessing Mass is a perfect example of this. While we may be tempted to think our little gift may not be able to have a lasting impact, trust me, you never know what an impact even a small gesture can have. Just look at what happens when we come together as a community, each bringing our own small gift. Friends, we can be tempted to hear evil in the news and feel that we can do nothing to change it, but we can never forget that if we can help at least one person to have a better life, that already justifies the offering of our lives.[6]

[1] Mt 11:5

[2] Chesterton, GK. Orthodoxy 1905 Reprint in Lexington, KY April 2013. Pg 79

[3] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. .Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011.  Pg. 129.

[4] Robert Cardinal Sarah. God or Nothing: A Conversation on Faith with Nicolas Dias San Francisco: Ignatius (2015) Pg. 78.

[5] Robert Cardinal Sarah. The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise with Nicolas Dias San Francisco: Ignatius (2017). Pg 81.

[6] Pope Francis. Evangelii Gaudium. Washington DC: USCCB. (2014). Pg. 133.

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