This Christmas we went to Mid-night Mass at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada and heard our Bishop Calvo give an excellent homily, as he always gives. This writer did not think it possible to give such an excellent homily. In the morning, Father Joseph Kim gave the Christmas Daytime Mass and showed everyone considering the priesthood how to do homiletics. He began, touching on many of the same themes as Bishop Calvo. We need to find room for Jesus in the Upper Room. Father Joseph based his homily upon, “The word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”
Father Joseph discussed how the hundred-mile journey for a woman nine months pregnant is arduous today. It was more arduous for a woman traveling that distance two millennium ago. Father Joseph correctly related how Jesus came to the simple, poor humble shepherds, and not to the powerful in Jerusalem. In Aramaic, the language St. John may well have originally spoken his Gospel, the word for “Word,” is not “Logos,” as used in Stoic Philosophy, but “Omer” the Aramaic word for “lamb,” the humble animal who is like shepherds/us. The lamb is also the animal of peace.
Father Joseph related, however arduous the travel and the travails of childbirth was for our Blessed Virgin, the moment of birth was a moment of peace. Jesus is the light of the world, and life brings joy to all. Bishop Calvo related Jesus comes to bring a new way; the Gospels are the recipe for that way.
The example is the paralytic healing. For those looking for the incantation to bring miracles, healing paralytics, making bad politicians and religious leaders look stupid, Jesus asks the bad politicians and religious leaders of his day, “What is easier to say?” This relates the power is not in the words. If the child is the victim of child abuse, he must believe what he did that was wrong will be right now. What failed in the past, will work now. Only society /we can bring this hope. We bring this hope and Jesus’ role is to teach us this new way.
Father Joseph walked to the altar, took the plastic Baby Jesus out of the crepe, and put in on the altar. He put the lectionary in place of the plastic and lifeless baby Jesus and discussed how our faith is a vibrant life lived. The word of God is not black splotches placed upon white pieces of paper in a closed Bible. St. Francis once said, “Go forth and preach the Gospel and if necessary use words.” The word of God is not “Logos,” but “Omer,” word proclaimed by the sacrificial life as Omer/lamb we live.
After Father Joseph finished his homily and prepared the Eucharist, he removed the plastic and lifeless baby Jesus and placed it under a table so we could not see it. The Real Presence of the real Jesus in the Eucharist pushes aside the false and the lifeless and impels vibrant life. Our faith is a faith of love and peace of Christ. The word is not the flapping of gums and exhaling air, we call speaking. It is not black splotches on a page. Our faith is a life lived in the image and likeness of God. The Eucharist is the Real Presence dwelling among us, in us, and each other. All we have to do is look and see him in the Eucharist and in the poorest of the poor and each other.