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Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

EPIPHANY ’08

At Christmastime many years ago,
a reporter wrote a beautiful true story
about a man who was born without arms.

This man had received national publicity
by playing the guitar with his feet
for Pope John Paul II
during the Holy Father’s visit.

The Pope was so moved
by the man’s faith and courage
that he left the stage,
wrapped his arms around the armless body
and kissed him.

Ever since that moment,
the man’s life changed drastically.

He has been invited to play
for audiences across the country.
He has appeared on national television.
He’s now recording his music.
His life story has been published.

 

His victory over his handicap
and his new celebrity status
have cast him into the role
of being a spokesperson for handicapped people.

“It’s scary, very scary,” he says.
“It’s something I have to pray over.
I figure God’s doing this for some reason.
He’s got some special mission for me.”

As the story is read,
people ask themselves,
Why was it written at Christmastime?

After thinking about that question for a minute,
the reason becomes clear.
It’s because this is a Christmas story.
Actually, it is an epiphany story.
It’s a story
about the feast we celebrate today.

It’s a story of someone
who lights up the darkness of our world
the way the star of Bethlehem
lit up the ancient world
for the three wise men
who were attracted to the light of the star.

This story makes an important point.

If many people today
are to find their way
through the spiritual darkness of our world
to the infant lying in the manger,
it will have to be
through the faith and example
of people like this.

For their faith and example
speak more eloquently to most people
than do homilies preached in churches.
For they speak not only to the mind
but also to the heart.

Furthermore, they also reach people
who have stopped going to church.

And this brings us
to the practical application of all this
to our own lives.

Each one of us in this church,
without exception,
is handicapped to some extent.

We all have something that causes us pain,
something we wish we didn’t have,
something we wish we could get rid of.

Maybe it’s a family situation
that is terribly painful.

Maybe it’s a physical thing,
like having an allergy
or a physical abnormality.

Maybe it’s a spiritual thing,
like finding it hard to live
the way Jesus taught us we should.
Maybe it’s finding it hard to pray
the way we wish we could.

Maybe it’s a material thing,
like not having enough money to help others
the way we’d like to do.

Whatever it is,
we have a choice.
We can choose to let our handicap defeat us.
or we can choose to battle it
and defeat it,
as the man born with no arms did.

Christmas is a time of hope.
The infant lying there in the manger
tells us that nothing can defeat us any longer.

No handicap – physical or spiritual –
can conquer us.
Thanks to the infant lying there in the manger,
we have all the grace we need
to battle the handicap and defeat it.

And if we do battle our handicap
and defeat it,
not only will we win a great personal victory,
but we will also become
an inspiration to others.

We will become a modern star of Bethlehem
lighting the way for some lost traveler.
We will become a light shinning in the darkness
and pointing the way
to the infant lying in the manger.

And so it’s up to us!
It’s our choice!

People like the man without arms
can touch our hearts and inspire us.

But in the end,
it’s up to us to imitate him or not.

But if we choose, we can do it.
No one can stop us.

That’s the message of the star of Bethlehem.
That’s the message
of the infant lying in the manger.
We can do anything we wish.
Nothing can stop us.

It’s the message
that if we open our hearts to God’s grace,
we can become modern stars
shinning in our world,
leading others to Bethlehem.

This is the good news
contained in today’s readings.

This is the good news
we can celebrate together in today’s liturgy.

Let us close with this prayer:

 

Lord Jesus,
help us to open our hearts
to the light of the star of Bethlehem.
Help us let it shine through us in such a way
that everyone will realize
that it’s not our light
but your light shinning through us.

Then we will praise you
in the way you love best,
by being a living homily
that speaks not only to the mind
but also to the heart.

Then we will be a modern star,
pointing the way to Bethlehem.

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Merry Christmas,

Deacon Kerry

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