Tuesday, December 23, 2014

To Guide Our Feet

“’The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you.  And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his Kingdom firm.  I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.  Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.’”  2 Samuel 7:11B-12, 14A, 16

“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Luke 1:78-79

O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
come and shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Do you have a favorite movie that you see over and over again?  You know the film so well that you can recite the lines before the characters even speak them? 

Maybe you act out being Captain Von Trapp from the Sound of Music:  “Were my children prancing around Salzburg dressed in some old curtains?”

Or Judy Garland as Dorothy Hale in The Wizard of Oz:  "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."

Perhaps you fancy yourself Tevia from Fiddler on the Roof:  “Tradition!”

"All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup," proclaimed Gloria Swanson (as Norma Desmond), in Sunset Boulevard.

Or do you lean more toward Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove?  "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." 

Well, "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night. May the Force be with you."  The Christmas story, the rituals, and the Christmas carols are like these old standbys.  The problem is that the meaning of the words might get lost when we gloss over the words from rote memory. 

Today’s Gospel – known as the Canticle of Zechariah -- is repeated daily in the Breviary.  Before setting out in the world every day, religious and lay people who participate in the morning prayers remind themselves daily to live a life of hope in the dawn and to let the Lord guide their feet on the path to peace.

Tonight, that path will be illuminated as we end our preparation period.  Whose feet will be guided to the side of the crib?  Mary certainly and Joseph.  But then, we do not see the rich and powerful.  There are no Roman centurions.  No Jewish Pharisees.  No Arabian kings.  We see the workers.  Shepherds.  Sheep.  The legendary little drummer boy may have been there.  I would bet that the innkeeper and his wife ventured out to see the commotion in their stable.  Maybe even some of their relatives who got to Bethlehem ahead of the Holy Family and were staying elsewhere came by to see their new cousin or nephew.     
Pope Francis was not as gentle as the Canticle of Zechariah when addressing the members of the Curia this week.  He was like a school teacher taking his students to task for bad behavior.  @Pontifex did not pull any punches.  He did not serve up a “spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.”  Those listening probably did figuratively fasten their seatbelts for the bumpy ride of Pope Francis’ comments.

He warned that the feet he was seeing were not resting their hope in the dawn and they were straying from the pathway of peace.  While some headline writers are focusing on terms like spiritual Alzheimer’s, Pope Francis, in his remarks, listed 15 spiritual “ailments” he has encountered in the Curia, and urged the bureaucratic leadership to renew its effort to heal itself as Christmas approaches.

Which of the Pope’s 15 sins also reverberate in your life?  Some include:
  •          The terrorism of gossip?  
  •          The sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’?
  •          ‘Martha-ism’, or excessive industriousness?
  •          The disease of accumulation?

Pope Francis asked the members of the Curia to use Christmas as a time of renewal.
“We are therefore required, at this Christmas time and in all the time of our service and our existence – to live ‘speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love’.”

What morning star will illuminate your walk to get back to and stay on the pathway of the Prince of Peace?

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