homily – December 21

Luke 1:26-38

There is an old saying, “If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans.” Today’s scripture readings are all about plans. King David has great plans. He had won great victories, he was secured in the walled city of Jerusalem, and he’d just finished building himself an impressive cedar home. He looked at the humble tent that housed the Arc of the Covenant. This just didn’t seem right. He ought to build a magnificent house for God. He planned to move God from a humble tent to a building worthy of God. But God said, “forget it; instead I’m going to build you a house, a dynasty. Your house shall be made sure forever before me. Don’t forget David, I took you from pasturing sheep and made you a prince over my people. I don’t need you but you will always need me. Forget your plans and be open to mine.”

Mary and Joseph must have had plans. They were engaged to be married, probably a marriage arranged by their two families. As any young engaged couple they made plans for their wedding, they planned on where they would live and raise their family, and they looked forward to an uneventful life in the town of Nazareth.

Not so Mary, not so Joseph. God had His plans for both of you. Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit you will conceive and you will bear a son and name him Jesus. Not fully understanding what this was all about but knowing God’s plan came before hers, Mary sets aside her plans and opens her life to God’s. “Here I am, the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” Finding that Mary was pregnant Joseph planned to divorce her privately but God said, “Joseph I have a new plan for you, I want you to marry Mary and raise the son she carries as your own and I want you to name him Jesus.”

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

A few years ago our Passionist community would have these meetings. We would spend days on a five year plan for the community. Within months events took place that made these plans, these well thought out plans, irrelevant, beside the point. The Passionists of the western States had a big meeting to decide which of two houses to close, Detroit or Sierra Madre in California. It involved a real turf war. It was decided to close Detroit. Two week later an earthquake made the house in Sierra Madre uninhabitable. So much for plans.

The present economic melt down has brought havoc to many people’s financial plans. Investments, retirement funds all gone, quick fix schemes for making fast money – all gone. The little people who saw in all these plans the means of financial security in their old age were betrayed by greedy charlatans. The high rollers out for the fast buck are left high and dry. There was a quote in the New York Times that said, “many people in this city went to bed last night very wealthy only to find that when they woke up this morning they were broke.” So much for plans. Think of the number of people caught up in a tsunami of broken promises and shattered plans and it is so sad.

We all know people who worked for years and had great plans for their retirement only to have those plans dissolve because of illness or even death. We all know the frustration of parents who make plans for their children’s future. We all make plans, we all dream dreams but so often things don’t go our way. So many things can happen that muck up the works. Then we get angry, frustrated, discouraged, maybe even depressed.

It is good to remember that God has plans for us just as God had plans for Mary and Joseph. God’s plans are not always that clear to us but even our infidelities, sins, and scheming do not derail them. We are not Mary, we are not Joseph. We are sinners struggling to be saints. When our plans don’t work out it is good to remember the words we say every day in the Our Father: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done”. Some times those words catch in our throats but as scripture tells us, ‘in God’s will is our peace.’

As we continue to celebrate this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for each other that when our personal plans go awry we be blessed with the faith of Mary and Joseph, into whose plans God intruded, and say with them, ‘be it done to me according to you will, according to your plan.’