2cornucopias

Decision to Believe

In 13 Today's Church on 2017/03/03 at 12:00 AM

 

  •   France has long been called the “Eldest Daughter of the Church,” mostly because of the deep way our Christian faith took root in that country in the earliest centuries of our Church history.
  •   The faith came to life in France like in no other country, which can be seen in the fact that so many of our greatest saints and so many of our most beautiful Catholic churches and works of art are to be found within her borders.
  •   Considering the historical greatness of the Catholic faith in France, it really should come as no surprise that the downfall of the Catholic faith in France was so heinous and horrifying.
  •   St. Peter tells us that satan prowls the world like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, and what greater prey could he have had than a country like France was 250 years ago?
  •   In a Reign of Terror that made our revolution here in America look like a tea party, the French Revolution of the late 18th century sought to strike a blow to the faith in France by a wholesale assault on the Catholic Church.
  •   Indeed, the French Revolution was not only an assault on the Church, but an assault on God Himself. To the revolutionaries nothing was considered sacred.
  •   Indeed, hundreds of priests and nuns were sent to the guillotine, and as if there were not enough, many of the Church’s goods and treasures were confiscated, and countless church buildings and works of art were destroyed.
  •   This is because the revolutionaries knew that to root out the faith and to limit the Church’s influence, they had to destroy not only the living embodiments of our Faith – the priests and religious – but also the images and icons that testify to what we believe.
  •   Like the iconoclasts of old who thought it heretical to have manmade images of our Blessed Lord and the saints, the French revolutionaries sought to destroy the Church’s ability to evangelize humanity by destroying her art and architecture.
  •   Now, over 200 years later, we can see that while the Catholic faith has not been completely extinguished in France, the revolutionaries certainly succeeded in maiming the Catholic faith of the Church’s eldest daughter.
  •   They were successful in part because of their destruction of our art and architecture. You see, my brothers and sisters, our faith is incarnational by its very nature!
  •   Our beautiful works of art are not simply decorations to enhance the aesthetics of a church building. Our architecture is not meant to be simply a method of providing a place for us to worship.
  •   Beautiful art and architecture that is truly sacred makes the invisible, visible. Sacred art and architecture serve to remind us not only of the particular mysteries of our faith, but that God Himself is something that we can perceive with our senses.
  •   And that is precisely what we celebrate every year with this joyful feast of Christmas: that God is not an abstraction or some grand figment of the collective imagination of mankind. God is real!
  •   Knowing that man often tends to be feckless and fickle in the weaknesses of human nature, our blessed Lord knew that He to be something that man could see and touch and hear in order to get man’s attention and save man from his sins.
  •   And so in act of love beyond all telling, an act of infinite self‐giving, our Lord Jesus Christ became man. At the assent of a teenage virgin in the city of Nazareth 2000 years ago, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
  •   And tonight we see His glory: the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth!
  •   Our blessed Lord became flesh and dwelt among us not simply to prove that He is real, but so that He could deliver us from our sins through His death on the cross. In short, Christ was born for us so that He could die for us.
  •   Thus Christmas is, in this sense, a precursor to Good Friday! We see this from the moment He was born.
  •   So poor was Jesus when He was born that His virgin mother laid Him in a wooden manger – a feeding trough for animals – foreshadowing the supreme moment of His life when our Lord would feel course wood against His back again on Calvary – poor and naked once as the day He was born.
  •   But in His generosity, it was not enough for our Lord to live and die for us. His incarnation was not only a gift to those who lived at the same time as He. Jesus is Emmanuel, God‐with‐us, and He is with us even now!
  •   We hear Him speaking to us through His Word contained within Sacred Scripture.
  •   In His mercy and goodness our Lord becomes present for us again at every Mass in themiracle of Eucharist. In the Eucharist, which is His body, blood, soul, and divinity, ourLord remains something that we can see and touch and even taste.
  •   No, my dear brothers and sisters, God is not an abstraction. He is not a fairy tale. God isas real as you and me, and tonight we celebrate our Lord as a tiny babe born to theVirgin Mary.
  •   Our world is dark today, and in the darkness of our world today it is often difficult tosee and know God. Indeed, faith is something most of us have to work at.
  •   In the busyness of modernity, it is easy to lose sight of this tiny baby born for us 2000years ago.
  •   But Christmas confronts us with a decision: the decision of whether or not to believethis truth and to live our lives like we believe it.
  •   For if we truly believe that Jesus is God, then we need to live in a way that is pleasing toHim by fulfilling His commands, most especially the command to love Him above allthings and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
  •   And so for the past couple of Sundays I’ve been asking you, who or what is it that youworship? For worshipping is an inescapable reality for man.
  •   Do you worship this God Who became man for us on this night some 2000 years ago inthe tiny village of Bethlehem?
  •   Trusting in His our Lord’s goodness and generosity, let us recommit ourselves tonightto worshipping this tiny child who birth we are celebrating. Let us place all our faith and hope in Him, trusting that He is not only real, but that He will save us from our sins.

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio .
To enable the audio, please go directly to Fr. Reid’s homily homilies and select the matching date.

Link to Homilies:
http://stanncharlotte.org/content/index.php?option=com_content&view=section&id=8&Itemid=61

 

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