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Homily by:
Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
Greenville, Texas
December 25, 2008

And the Word became Flesh and dwelt amongst us and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son full of grace and truth.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit


I mentioned last Sunday that it was the anniversary of my father’s death, six years ago. How fortunate I was to have my father for forty-three years. Essentially fathers have a very difficult job because it is so tedious, especially with a son such as me. Having to repeat again and again and that being objectionable to me again and again, I still didn’t see the benefit of it sinking in. From time to time my father would repeat things over and over. I thought, “Why do we have to take out the trash?” Or, “I just took a shower last week, what is all this about?”

But fathers understand and this is compassion from father to son. After forty-three years with my father he knew that he’d said it more than once and it made his passing a little easier for him, knowing that he had said things over and over to my siblings and me. He knew that we knew what was expected of us and how we were to live the remainder of our lives. If I go back and look over the days since he passed away, the good days when I have listened to that advice or the days that were less than ideal, those were the days that I didn’t listen. I even surprised myself this morning. I only got two or three hours of sleep and before I went over to Quinlan this morning to offer Mass I actually made my bed, and I live by myself!

Yesterday in the Divine Office, Psalm 103 was used for the day just before Christmas. This is part of that Psalm.

As a father has compassion on his sons, the Lord has pity on those who fear Him. For He knows of what we are made; He remembers that we are dust.

Last Sunday on the front of the bulletin we had the Christmas picture with the stable, the angels, St. Joseph, Our Lady and the animals. Our Lady had a beautiful cape with lots of left over material, which is one of the specialties of this artist’s painting. The material draped lavishly. All around Our Lady is this beautiful cape folded expertly around her. But, between Our Lady and St. Joseph, on the bear ground, is the baby Jesus without a stitch of clothing. No swaddling clothes! I have heard it more than once, “What is this?” This is the kind of thing someone would be reported to CPS for, right? You look a the picture and many mothers would wonder why Our Lady didn’t just pick Jesus up and place him on some of the extra material on her cape rather than being on the bear ground. The artist put Jesus there for a reason. Just as so many saints were approaching their final hours on earth, desired to be taken out of their bed and placed on the bear ground.

In the Divine Office yesterday the Prophet Isaiah is quoted in chapter 51.

Shake off the dust, ascend to the throne Jerusalem, loose the bonds from your neck O captive daughter Zion.”

Shake off the dust! As I mentioned last Sunday, it is like in one of those novels that is a mystery thriller and they return to the scene of the crime. This is exactly what is going on in this painting here before us…this mystery. It is the Mystery of the Incarnation; Christ coming into the world and while still remaining God, He becomes true man. In fact, up until recently Christmas Eve has been a day of abstinence. Catholics would not eat meat on Christmas Eve. If you ate meat yesterday don’t worry, this has been a while ago and for good reason. I heard about this so I had a tuna sandwich for lunch yesterday. The reason that we couldn’t eat meat on Christmas Day is because Christ came into this world and He took “flesh” from the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and became man. There is that line in the Creed that refers to Jesus taking Flesh, “And the Word became flesh”, and when we read that line today, instead of bowing we will all kneel. St. John says it so beautifully.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son full of grace and truth.

Full of grace and truth…St. Augustine said in the Divine Office yesterday that, truth has risen from the earth, flesh from Mary. And justice looked down from Heaven; for man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from Heaven. Truth has arisen from the earth because the Word was made flesh and justice looked down from Heaven because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.

Centuries ago St. Augustine uses in his preaching the theme, “Truth has arisen from the earth.” The baby Jesus lying on the bear ground is returning to the scene of the crime, the original crime…the Original Sin. Remember in the Book of Genesis that God created everything and then to crown creation He took clay and molded and fashioned it and breathed life into this and Adam was created and from Adam, Eve. From these two first parents of ours came everyone else. So, we know about the Original Sin. The word adama is earth in Hebrew, and that is where we get the name, Adam.

Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return.

That is so pithy because it is so true. We are dust and that is what we will be when God’s souls return to Him. The fact is that the Church underlines this in different ways. For example, today, at midnight last night, and the two Masses yesterday we read different Gospels. It doesn’t make it easy to preach on. Last night we heard the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, in St. Matthew’s Gospel, tracing the ancestors of Jesus all the way back to King David and then from there all the way back to Abraham the same way that St. Luke does, but Matthew goes all the way back to Adam to show the ancestors of Christ.

If you look at the ancestors of Christ you will notice how uneven they are. One of them being Ahaz, who was the wretched king guiding the chosen people. He was so sinful that he sacrificed one of his infant sons to a pagan god. He is the one God used to hear Isaiah’s prophecy about Christmas. Isaiah said,

Listen O House of Israel; is it not enough for you to weary mean? Must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord will give you this sign; the Virgin shall be with child and bear and Son and name Him Emmanuel, a name which means, God is with us.

In that genealogy concerning so and so being the father of so and so, we have Ahaz but right after him we have Hezekiah, his son, one that was allowed to live and he was an excellent king. So you see, it was very uneven going back to Abraham. You also see gentiles; Ruth was not a Jew. You see a gentile there in the genealogy of Christ mentioned.

This aspect of the father is to show that down through the ages God kept His promise from Adam all the way to Our Lord. God was planning to save man from the consequences of Original Sin and that Christ was born into this world and He took flesh. I know what you are thinking. “Yea Father, everybody believes tha…t can we get on to some new territory? We all know this!” yea, right!

People have been spreading lies about Christ from the beginning. Remember in the Gospels right after Jesus is crucified the soldiers conspire and take money to say that someone came and stole the body of Jesus so that it would discredit the Resurrection of Jesus? Very soon after the Resurrection and the Ascension there were those who said that Jesus really didn’t come in the flesh but appeared to take on flesh kind of like a ghost.

Now, as St. Augustine wrote in that sermon I quoted earlier, he says,

You would have suffered eternal death had Jesus not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh had Jesus not taken on Himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness had it not been for this Mercy. You would never have returned to life had He not shared your death.

Again and again there is this emphasis of the Incarnation, taking on flesh. So, abstaining from flesh on Christmas Eve is a way of waiting for the moment when we would celebrate Christmas and then the feast begins. Once Christmas fell on a Friday and one of the friars told St. Francis and the other monks around him that they should abstain from meat. St. Francis said something along these lines, that if the walls could eat that they would smear them at Christmas with meat. It was a day to underline the Incarnation with this method of abstaining from meat up until Christmas. It is a way of saying, “Yes, He really and truly did take flesh.”

The place of the birth of Jesus is called Bethlehem. Translated Bethlehem means, “House of Bread”. Just as God gave the Israelites in the desert bread from Heaven, Jesus is food for our journey. If Jesus did not really come in the flesh, if He only appeared to take flesh like a ghost then how can He give me His flesh to eat and how can He give me His blood to drink? How can Jesus sustain me in my spiritual journey through this desert of life? This is why you and I should strive every day to do what our fathers tell us. I am talking about good fathers. So many people have lost their fathers at an early age or they don’t share at having a good father. We know that if we follow the advice of a good father that it will lead us to do the right thing. Just as our fathers pass on before us and their advice is intensified, guiding us even after their death, so much so if God the Father, having compassion on us in sending us Jesus Christ.

Oh, we can never say we didn’t know what we were supposed to do and that God never told us; Jesus is the fullness of God the Father’s revelation. There is no other way to Heaven except by Jesus. In Jesus is all the truth of God the Father. If only we would follow God’s Will the way Jesus follows God’s will then we will follow Jesus all the way to Heaven. That is his plan…Follow Me! Follow Him through this valley to tears, this desert all the way to Heaven. We can claim weakness and that this is too hard like the Israelites did in the desert. We can say it is too difficult or that we are not up to it. That is exactly why Jesus gives us His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion to sustain us. He gave us Confession to help us if we are not in a state of grace. To be in a state of grace means that we are able to go to Communion and receive the Flesh of Christ and drink His Blood; to be strengthened!

I remember once I met a couple that’d been married for fifty years and had lots of kids and grandkids. Do you know what they did for their 50th Wedding Anniversary? They had their marriage blessed by the Church. What a wasted life; what wasted moments, one after another for fifty years. When I asked them why they had not gotten their marriage blessed from the beginning…well…his mother didn’t like her. Evidentially he wasn’t ready for marriage because he was always worried about what mommy would think. A wasted life is wasted because when one could easily return the practice of the faith and receive Jesus on a regular basis and doesn’t then the soul grows weak from not being nourished with the Flesh of Christ.

As a father has compassion on His sons, the Lord has pity on those who fear Him. For He know of what we are made; He remembers that we are dust.

We know that He has told us everything and how we are to live until He calls us to Him. This Feast today shows us that He has pulled out every stop and has left nothing to chance and has sent His own Son.

And the Word became Flesh and dwelt amongst us and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son full of grace and truth.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit


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 Merry Christmas and Blessed New Year in 2008