Books of the Bible Index of Homilies
Matthew Mark Luke John The Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Tobit Judith Esther 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes The Song of Songs The Book of Wisdom Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
The Collect asked the Lord for “the grace of unity and peace”. God reconciles: he reconciles the world to himself through Christ. Jesus, brought to us by Mary, makes peace, gives peace to two peoples, and of two peoples he makes one: Hebrews and Gentiles. One people. He makes peace. Peace in their hearts. But, how does God reconcile?. In what manner does he do this? Does he perhaps make a great assembly? Does everyone come to an agreement? Do they sign a document?. No. God uses a specific method to make peace: he reconciles and makes peace in the little things and on the journey.
“Littleness” was spoken of in the First Reading (Mic 5:1-4): “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little...”. In other words: you are so little: but you will be great, because your ruler will be born from you and he will be peace. He himself will be peace, because from that littleness comes peace. This is the manner of God, who chooses little things, humble things, to do great works. The Lord, is the Great One and we are the little ones, but the Lord advises us to make ourselves little like children to be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, whereas the great ones, the powerful, the arrogant, the proud cannot enter. God, however, reconciles and makes peace in littleness.
The Lord also reconciles on the journey: walking. The Lord does not want to make peace and reconcile with a magic wand: today — boom! — all done! No. He journeys with his people. An example of this action of God is found in the day’s Gospel (Mt 1:1-16, 18-23). The passage regarding Jesus’ lineage may seem somewhat repetitious: This one begot that one, that one begot this one, this one begot that one.... It’s a list. Yet, it is God’s journey: God’s journey among men, good and bad, because on this list there are saints and there are sinful criminals.
Thus, it is a list which even contains much sin. However, God is not afraid: he journeys. He walks with his people. And on this journey he makes hope grow in his people, hope in the Messiah. This is the closeness of God. Moses said it to his own: “Think about it: what nation has a God as close as ours?”. Thus, this journeying in littleness, with his people, this walking with the good and bad gives us our way of life. In order to walk as Christians, in order to make peace and reconcile as Jesus did, we have the path: With the Beatitudes and with the protocol by which we will all be judged. Matthew, 25: ‘Do likewise: little things’. This means in littleness and by journeying.
The people of Israel dream of being set free, they have this dream because it was promised to them. Even Joseph dreams and his dream is somewhat like a summary of the entire history of God’s journey with his people. However, not only does Joseph have dreams: God dreams. God our Father has dreams, and he dreams beautiful things for his people, for each of us, because he is Father and as Father he thinks and dreams of the best for his children.
In conclusion, this great and almighty God teaches us to do great works of peacemaking and of reconciliation in littleness, by walking, and by not losing hope, with the capacity to dream great dreams, to have vast horizons.
Let us in this commemoration of the beginning of a crucial phase of salvation history, the birth of Our Lady seek the grace that we asked for in prayer, that of unity, of reconciliation, and of peace. To be always on the path, close to others and with great dreams. With the manner of ‘littleness’, the littleness, which is found in the Eucharistic celebration: a little piece of bread, a little bit of wine. In this ‘littleness’ there is everything. God’s dream is there, his love is there, his peace is there, his reconciliation is there, Jesus is there.
The day’s liturgy speaks about little things; we could say that today is the day of littleness. The first Reading, taken from the book of the Prophet Isaiah begins with the announcement, "On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him…" The Word of God sings the praises of what is small and makes a promise: the promise of a shoot that will sprout. And what is smaller than a sprout? And yet "the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him".
Redemption, revelation, the presence of God in the world begins like this, and is always like this. The revelation of God is made in smallness. Smallness, both humility and so many other things, but in smallness. The great seem powerful — let us think of Jesus in the desert, and how Satan presents himself as powerful, the master of the whole world: "I will give you everything, if you…" The things of God, on the other hand, begin by sprouting, from a seed, little things. And Jesus speaks about this smallness in the Gospel.
Jesus rejoices and thanks the Father because He has made known His revelation to the little ones, rather than to the powerful. At Christmas, we will all go to the Nativity scene, where the littleness of God is present.
In a Christian community where the faithful, the priests, the bishops do not take this path of smallness, there is no future, it will collapse. We have seen it in the great projects of history: Christians who seek to impose themselves, with force, with greatness, the conquests… But the Kingdom of God sprouts in the small thing, always in what is small, the small seed, the seed of life. But the seed by itself can do nothing. And there is another reality that helps and that gives strength: "On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him."
The Spirit chooses the small always, because He cannot enter into the great, the proud, the self-sufficient. The Lord reveals Himself to hearts that are small.
Those who study religion, theologians, are not those who know so much about theology, they could be called "encyclopaedists" of theology. They know everything, but they are incapable of doing theology because theology is done ‘on one’s knees’, making ourselves small.
The true pastor, whether he be a priest, bishop, pope, cardinal, whoever he might be, if he is not small, he is not a pastor. Rather he is an office manager. And that applies to everyone from those who have a function that seems more important in the Church, to the poor old woman who does works of charity in secret.
Smallness might lead to faintheartedness – that is, being closed in oneself – or to fear. On the contrary, littleness is great, it is the ability to take risks, because there is nothing to lose. It is smallness that leads to magnanimity, because it allows us to go beyond ourselves, knowing that God is the reason for greatness.
St Thomas Aquinas in the Summa says, "Don’t be afraid of great things". The Saint of today, St Francis Xavier, shows us the same thing; "Don’t be afraid, go forward; but at the same time, take into account the smallest things, this is divine". A Christian always starts from smallness. If in my prayer I feel that I am small, with my limits, my sins, like that publican who prayed at the back of the Church, ashamed, saying "Have mercy on me, a sinner", you will go forward. But if you believe that you are a good Christian, you will pray like that Pharisee who did not go forth justified: "I give you thanks, O God, because I am great". No, we thank God because we are small.
I like to hear confessions, especially those of children. Their confessions, are very beautiful, because they talk about concrete facts: "I said this word", for example and he repeats it to you. The concreteness of what is small. "Lord I am a sinner because I have done this, this, this, this… This is my misery, my smallness. But send your Spirit so that I might not be afraid of great things, not be afraid that you will do great things in my life."
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good Afternoon!
The two parables, which the Liturgy presents us today, – the two parables – are inspired precisely by ordinary life and reveal the attentive and deep gaze of Jesus, who observes reality and, through small everyday images, opens the windows on the mystery of God and on human history. Jesus spoke in a way that was easy to understand; he spoke with images of reality, of everyday life. In this way, he teaches us that even everyday things, which at times all seem the same and which we carry on with distraction or tiredness, are inhabited by God’s hidden presence; that is, they have meaning. So, we too need attentive eyes, to be able “to seek and find God in all things."
Today Jesus compares the Kingdom of God, that is, his presence that dwells in the heart of things and of the world, to the mustard seed, that is, to the smallest seed there is: it is really tiny. Yet, cast upon the ground, it grows until becoming the tallest tree (cf. Mk 4:31-32). This is what God does. At times, the din of the world, along with the many activities that fill our days, prevent us from stopping and seeing how the Lord is conducting history. Yet – the Gospel assures us – God is at work, like a good little seed that silently and slowly germinates. And, little by little, it becomes a lush tree, which gives life and rest to everyone. The seed of our good works too can seem like a small thing, yet all that is good pertains to God, and thus it humbly, slowly bears fruit. Good, let us remember, always grows in a humble way, in a hidden, often invisible way.
Dear brothers and sisters, with this parable Jesus wants to instil us with confidence. In so many of life’s situations, indeed, it may happen that we get discouraged, because we see the weakness of good as compared to the apparent power of evil. And we may allow ourselves to be paralyzed by doubt when we find we are working hard but the results are not achieved, and things seem never to change. The Gospel asks us to take a fresh look at ourselves and at reality; it asks us to have bigger eyes, that are able to see further, especially beyond appearances, in order to discover the presence of God who as humble love is always at work in the soil of our life and that of history. This is our confidence, this is what gives us the strength to go forward every day, patiently, sowing the good that will bear fruit.
How important this attitude also is for coming out of the pandemic well! To cultivate the confidence of being in God’s hands and at the same time for all of us to commit ourselves to rebuilding and starting up again, with patience and perseverance.
In the Church too, weeds of doubt can take root, especially when we witness the crisis of faith and the failure of different projects and initiatives. But let us never forget that the results of sowing do not depend our abilities: they depend on the action of God. It is up to us to sow, and sow with love, with dedication and with patience. But the force of the seed is divine. Jesus explains it in today’s other parable: the farmer sows the seed and then does not realize how it bears fruit, because it is the seed itself that grows spontaneously, day and night, when he least expects it (cf. vv. 26-29). With God in the most infertile soil there is always the hope of new sprouts.
May Mary Most Holy, the Lord’s humble handmaid, teach us to see the greatness of God who works in the little things and to overcome the temptation of discouragement. Let us trust in Him every day!