Blessed Sacrament Parish
Homily by Father Mike Kuse
December 22, 2013 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
10 AM Service
Gospel Mathew 1:18-24
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
This Sunday we are being asked to focus on whether we are going to hold on to our ego, or let go of our ego. Mary let go of her ego, Joseph let go of his ego. Because they let go of their egos God was able to enter into their lives and transform everything — and not just for Mary and Joseph but for the rest of us and for generations to come.
This child is not only like any other child who changes all of our lives, but this child is the Son of God.
We’ve had a few weeks to sort through our ego training. We all deal with it. We are afraid to let go because we think — “I want everybody to notice who I am, and I am always in charge of my life.” We forget that none of us is in charge of our lives. It is always God who has the magic to make things work.
I want to tell you a story about a young woman who is a physician and works in a large hospital in our country. She was attending a conference one day and something the keynote speaker said struck her. He was talking about the very same thing and that as physicians we need to let go of our egos. She came up to him afterwards and said, “I am really taken by what you just said.”
The man asked, “What is your name?”
And the woman answered, “My name is Charlotte.”
The man saw that she was of African descent and he asked, “Tell me, what is your name in your native country?”
She told him and he said, “I can’t pronounce your name. But tell me, what does it mean?”
She said, “It means ‘one who brings together.’ ”
He asked, “Does that name have meaning in your country or family? Why were you given that particular name?”
She said, “Well, my name does have meaning. When my mom and dad were getting married, both sets of parents were against the marriage. But they went ahead and got married, and from the day of the marriage neither set of parents would speak to them, or visit them, and they were ‘locked out’ of the family. But after they were married a while, my parents conceived a child.” The child they conceived was this lady physician attending the conference.
And she said, “When I was born, it was the gift of life that brought both sets of parents together. And since my birth both families began speaking to each other, getting together for holidays, and acknowledging one another’s existence. So that’s how I got my name.”
Have you ever thought about your own life and who it is that brings people together? Maybe it was your birth that brought your families together. Maybe it was something else in life when you found out the ego was working and things weren’t right, but you were able to do something or say something that brought the egos out of the picture. And people were renewed in love and friendship.
It happens everyday. What I shared was one story. There are lots of similar stories.
We are all of a human family. Jesus was of the family of David. What about your family? Think about when a baby is born into a family. Now, a baby can’t talk when he or she is born — but as innocent as babies are and as beautiful as they are, they would have to say, “Let’s get this straight now that I am coming into this world. First of all, I am a sinner but I belong to God. God got me here. So, from the start let’s all make up our minds. We’re going to get along.”
It’s not just with families. It’s everywhere we go. This is why our present Holy Father is gifted. Because every time somebody likes to trap him, just like they wanted to trap Jesus — he just has the gift to say the right thing and it just shuts them up.
In a few hours we are going to welcome the Son of God. Whether you like it or not, he’s going to keep on transforming the world. If you think that God is not in your picture there’s a good chance you need to adjust your ego level. Once it is adjusted, you are going to find out that God really does work miracles.
In a few minutes we are going to baptize Carson Dennis and he is going to change not only our lives, but also all the people of the world, millions he will never meet. The mere fact that God has brought Carson and the rest of us into this world means that God is simply saying to us, “Get rid of your ego, and then you will be ready for Christmas.”
It’s not about buying food, it’s not about buying presents, it’s not about “is the tree up yet,” it’s not about who is going to get home, and who is not going to get home.
Christmas is about each of us accepting the fact that God is with us.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.