Yes or no? How will you answer the question? Homily for Sunday, December 18, 2016

saint-joseph
Saint Joseph by Guido Reni

 

Yes or no?  How will you answer the question?

Have you ever wished you lived back in biblical times?  Times when great seas were divided, when a man from Nazareth walked on water or fed thousands from just a small amount of food.  Or when people would make incredible, life changing and risky decisions based on what came to them during a dream.  How could you not have faith in the lessons that these great and awesome miracles taught?  How could you ever have any doubt at all?

Every year, in the time leading up to Christmas, we reflect upon the incredible yes that Mary gave when asked to carry and raise the child of God.  In today’s Gospel, we consider Joseph’s yes… the one that came to him after a great and miraculous dream.

Joseph was informed by his betrothed Mary that she was pregnant.  When asked who the father was… well, you know the rest.  Image how her answer must have sounded to Joseph.  We know how things eventually worked out, so it’s easy to under-appreciate now just how that must have felt to him in that moment.

I would like to share with you that my own sense of Jesus and faith changed pretty dramatically when I began to shift my view from merely marveling at his divinity to one that also truly appreciated his humanity.

Jesus… as God… well, that’s pretty hard to relate to.  But Jesus… as human…

Jesus experienced embarrassment and frustration.  Hopes and anxieties.  Bruises and stomach aches.  Now I can relates to those things.  He was, after all… human.

I’d like to suggest that we might also do well to reflect on the birth of Jesus through a similar lens.  One that does not merely marvel at the divinity but one that also appreciates the humanity.

Mary was asked to participate in an extraordinary mission.  How must that have felt to her as she considered that request?

Joseph was confronted by an incredible response to his question from the one to whom he was betrothed.  A dream instructed him to proceed.  To go ahead and marry her anyways.  But what if that dream was not of the biblical miraculous and awesome sort but instead much like the kind of dream that you or I might have?  What if Joseph woke up from it wondering what it meant or whether he even had it at all?  And what if he wasn’t completely certain what to do next?  What if he faced a lot of doubt and uncertainty?  What if he had to pray about it?  And in the end, what if he had to take a leap of faith… even after that dream?

We often hear the story of the birth of Jesus and conclude that we need to have faith that it happened in the first place.  In reality, it is because of faith in the first place that it even happened at all: the faith of Mary and the faith of Joseph, two pretty ordinary people who said yes, who took a leap when asked.  In turn, they helped bring Jesus into the world, changing it forever.  God’s great plan of revelation needed the faith of two ordinary people in order for it to happen.

The story of the birth of Jesus is also the story of our faith too.  The question posed first to Mary and then to Joseph is also posed to you and to me.  We are asked whether we, all of us some pretty ordinary people, are willing to also say yes.  Whether we are willing to help bring Jesus into this world.

Yes or no?  How will you answer the question?

 

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Yes or no? How will you answer the question? Homily for Sunday, December 18, 2016

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