Again, these are my notes and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the December 20, 2015 5PM and December 23, 2018 masses. And a surprise selection from Fr Eric Sundrup in 2015. So … many poems to help light our path through scripture this week!
The poems Fr Dennis references in 2018 & 2015 are:
Mrs. God by Connie Wanek (2018 homily)
December by Gary Johnson (2018 and 2015 homily)
On the Mystery of the Incarnation by Denise Levertov (2015 homily)
and Fr Eric Sundrup, SJ in 2015 used The Risk of Birth, An Advent Poem by Madeleine L’Engle.
In 2018, we reflected on —
- how remarkable children are, particularly as we had the beautiful baptism of Adelaide at the 5PM Mass — remember how much joy the baptisms brought to the Sunday masses? The children scurrying to the choir loft, so they could look down, God’s Eye view?, on the proceedings? Gary Johnson captures this integration of faith and action in children in his poem December.
- The psalm has an interesting refrain — Lord, make us turn to you; / let us see your face and we shall be saved. It is unusual because the face of God was historically and culturally thought by the Hebrews to be unbearable, e.g., Moses’ shining face after seeing the face of God (because they were friends). The people wanted Moses to cover his face. In other times, people were thought to die if they were to behold the face of God.
- But, as Christians, we see the face of God in an infant, Jesus, like our little Adelaide of the blessing today. God wanted to give God’s self soooo completely that God became one of us as a babe. (Rainey’s contribution of a poem!)
- In the gospel, Mary is blessed because she believes what God told her, i.e., Gabriel’s message, and this is in addition to the great trust in God or nature that we, and women in particular, must have in the process of birth, that all will work out as it should.
- What gives these moments of revelation that we hear in scripture of Micah and the gospel with Mary and Elizabeth?
- God coming in utter helplessness to be with us.
- The newness in each repetition of ritual, like our baptism today, our communion rite and line, like the Gary Johnson poem — one in sonnet form with many external references to Christmas Hymns (“for the faithful to come ye,” “Joyful and triumphant,” “the partridge in a pear tree,” and more).
- The Connie Wanek poem, Mrs. God, is fun, and a reminder that as we begin and continue on our journey with Cycle C, the gospel of Luke has many more women characters than the other gospels.
In 2015, we reflected on —
- In Denise Levertov’s poem, On the Mystery of the Incarnation, she begins with “It’s when we face for a moment / the worst our kind can do / …” that we hold the context of our saints choices and God’s Love in awe: Mary had to trust the message of Gabriel; Joseph had to trust his dream/vision; Elizabeth had to believe after the cruelty of all those years; Mary & Joseph’s visit to the temple with Jesus and meeting Anna & Simeon — Is this child really that special? Because Jesus was growing just like any other child.
- God sent God’s Son not to one of the innocent forms of creation but to us “tainted” humans locked in “our ugly failure to evolve.”
- Gary Johnson’s December, as we discussed above, is a sonnet with AB, CD, and EF couplets of rhyming scheme) invoking external references to familiar Christmas hymns. Somehow, the child of the poem, singing, is the hope and faith of all the years, even into the dark. (Hark!)
- The cameo by Fr Eric Sundrup is the message that Love risks, because love is grateful and realizes that what it has received is a gift, and so it’s not afraid to risk it all. As Madeleine L’Engle writes: This is no time for a child to be born … And yet our God came and pitched God’s tent among us.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!