Christmas (Mass at Midnight) | December 25, 2015
Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
So I must begin this homily with a confession.
I loved the Teenage Mutant Turtles when I was kid.
Now, I know that they have redone the series since then, but I grew up with the original cartoons. And they were the best.
As a Turtles fan, I had everything I was supposed to. Sheets and pillowcases. Check. Lunchbox. Check. VHS cassettes of all of the episodes. Check. Action figures. Check. Nerf gun that shot plastic pizzas. Check.
But the one missing piece of the ensemble was the Technodrome. It was a massive dome-shaped toy that was supposed to be the nerve center of Shredder and all of his minions.
It was all I wanted that year for Christmas.
So imagine my delight when I discovered the Technodrome neatly wrapped and sitting under the tree.
I yanked it out of the box and discovered that it contained about 200 small plastic pieces that had to be carefully put together. Sticker decals that needed to be carefully applied. And suddenly, the gift did not seem so appealing.
But that was when my dad jumped in to the rescue. He offered to painstakingly sit and assemble this toy of all toys while I enjoyed my Christmas morning with my brothers. After several hours, he called in from the living room, “Brian, it is ready to go.”
I raced in, grabbed the Technodrome and immediately ran to get all of my figures.
Not even five minutes after my father had spent all morning assembling this creation, I pushed it down the stairs and it fragmented into dozens of pieces at the bottom of the steps.
“That was so cool!” I screamed and I immediately ran down to grab what remained of the Technodrome and do it again. And my father just stared at the wreckage I left behind.
I couldn’t help but think of this story as I reflected on our Gospel for this evening.
For I believe that Mary must have had a similar feeling as my father on that Christmas morn so many years ago.
For Mary had done her job. She had prepared her heart and her home for the arrival of a son who was still so unexpected. She had her family near her to help navigate the challenges. She was open and ready.
And suddenly all of her carefully laid plans were shattered on the floor.
For she now had to go to a strange town far away from everything she knew and trusted. Her family was not of the same house as Joseph. So they would not be with her. Not to mention, she was 8-9 months pregnant while making this trip.
I can almost picture Mary gazing in the clear night sky and staring at that star trying to understand what to do now.
And into it all comes a bunch of shepherds.
Now shepherds were not exactly desired dinner guests.
They were poor. They were often judged by their neighbors for their loose morals. And heaven knows that they smelled like their sheep.
But on that night, this motley crew discovered Mary holding the pieces of her shattered world, while cradling an infant.
And, with their help, she began to reconstruct her world from the pieces that had been given her. A world that was now forever changed by the presence of her son.
One in which the familiar and the comfortable were replaced.
One in which every broken piece had its place.
One in which the bonds of family were expanded to include all women and men of goodwill.
I am convinced, my friends, that this is what we celebrate this night.
The truth that we are those broken pieces that God continues to make into his one family.
Some of us are the foundation stones. The ones who keep the rest of us grounded. The ones like Mary whose faithfulness and openness have allowed us to see a new world. The ones like Mrs. Kepler or Mr. Moser, Mrs. Staff or Fr. Mahoney whose very lives have tried to mirror the one we celebrate this night.
Others of us are in transition. We do not quite know what our piece will look like when it is all said and done. We are college grads and newlyweds, middle-schoolers and teenage students, foster parents and retirees, recently diagnosed and recently widowed. We don’t know exactly where we fit. But we are reassured this night that God has a place for us. We are reminded this night that the whole is incomplete without us.
Still others of us come very aware of our brokenness. We know that our piece has been fractured by our own choices and the choices of others. Addictions, abuse, abandonment and anger have cracked our pieces. But we are reminded this night that it is the broken pieces that God grafts into a whole. That there is no wound or worry, guilt or grief that can cast us out from the new world that our God is creating. That even though there are times when we feel like walking away, our family still needs us.
No matter who we are, what has led us here, where we are from or where we are going. We are here this night. We are here like Mary, cradling the pieces of our lives. We are here celebrating the birth of the one who shakes our familiar and our comfortable and rebuilds it into a new whole. We are here trusting that the one who stands beside us, the one who prays behind us will help us to take our broken piece and fit it into this beautiful whole.
So let us be like Mary this night.
Let us too embrace the world that is being remade before us.
Let us celebrate Christ among us and within us . . . today, tomorrow and throughout this season to come.
Merry Christmas my friends. May God be Praised.