Originally delivered on February 14, 1988
Readings: Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46; Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45
In the first reading, we hear that the “unclean” should be set apart. But in the Gospel, we hear that Jesus touches the leper, and in doing so, serves as an example that we are to reach out to our sisters and brothers in need. We are reminded that in each era, there are those that people marginalize, such as Jews, those living with HIV/AIDS, physically challenged, and our elders. When we marginalize or overlook others, we are refusing to meet God because each person is a unique manifestation of God. We are challenged to look for God in the faces of those that we’d otherwise reject.
Originally delivered on January 3, 1988
Readings: Isaiah 60: 1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12
As we close our liturgical celebration of the Christmas season today, we are reminded to take what we have learned, and like the magi, spread the message to all people. How have we been welcoming to all with God’s love? How, at times, do we keep his message all to ourselves? We are encouraged to reach out to other people with whom we have not yet shared God’s message. As we heard in Matthew’s Gospel, we should “go home by a different route” spreading the news of God’s love. The message is for all – rich and poor, healthy and sick, US born and foreign. Do we ever keep God’s message just to ourselves so that it can benefit our own interests? When this homily was originally delivered in 1988, inequality among people was a crisis on the US political scene. The Kerner Commission brought some answers, but the simple answer – the inability to not share what was given to us all, was an answer seen by many as the cause behind the unrest. Do we ever “lock out” people we want part of our lives, people with whom we need to share our good news? How many of us feel marginalized? As Fr. Healy so eloquently points out, it is good news that Jesus came, but it is just as important that we recognize it as good news to be shared. The real good news from Jesus comes down to love, compassion and identifying with the oppressed. We must be open to embrace all God’s people.
Originally delivered on December 28, 1987
Readings: Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Colossians 3:12-21; Luke 2:22-40 or 2:22, 39-40
As we live in the spirit of Christmas just three days ago, today we are reminded how to foster that spirit in our families, both our physical families, and the universal family of God throughout world. We are called to charity and love for all. This charity can begin at home, but cannot stop at the threshold. If it does, it is false charity. It must extend to the second dimension of family, the family of God. As we are reminded by Saint Paul in the second reading, put on love to all people. No Christlike family can exist if the love stops at the threshold. This universal family is spread across race, language, culture and country. Our call is to share the virtues of kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness with all. It is our responsibility if were are to be part of the family of God.
Originally delivered on May 31, 1992
Readings: Acts of the Apostles 7: 55-60; Revelation 22: 12-14, and John 17: 20-26
God is love. Our loving, parental God sent His Son, Jesus, to all the people of the earth to lead them back to His Father’s house to celebrate together forever. So simple, yet our challenge is to find its meaning for us in our hectic, challenging lives. Stephen understood this message and gives witness of this understanding to others. We, as Christians, are called to be like Stephen, to love one another as our God loves us. Like Stephen, our witness may cost us our lives, but we are called to give witness by showing our passion for people, our brothers and sisters, especially those we might call our enemies.
Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12
Christmas is not complete until Epiphany when we welcome others, foreigners as the Magi where, to know of the Good News of Jesus. Our universal Catholic Church is not complete until all are invited to share of the promise of the Gospel. We celebrate the spirit of Christmas when we share ourselves with all of God’s people. When we don’t embrace all people, regardless of our differences, we are not only depriving them, but are also depriving ourselves of part of the beauty of God’s creation.