I am currently a diaconal candidate, and, where appropriate,
I will be posting the homilies prepared for my Homiletics class.
SUNDAY AFTER THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD
(Commemoration of the Holy and Just
King David, and James Cousin of our Lord)
In our world today, we often look for role models in all the wrong places. Celebrities, athletes, even religious leaders. Truth be told, they often disappoint. The Church offers us an alternative – the saints, the true heroes of the faith. And in today’s Liturgy, the Church groups together three for our inspiration.
The first of these saints is King David. He was a shepherd who defended Israel against the Philistines when he killed Goliath. He was a musician who composed many of the psalms in the Bible. In serving God, he endured many hardships, as our first Alleluia verse reminds us. And, he was King of Israel.
He was also an adulterer, and he abused his power by sending the woman’s husband to the front lines of the war to be killed. When confronted with his sin, however, he repented, and he mourned his sin. When told that this sin would bring death and calamity, he accepted the temporal punishment for his sin. He repented and made reparation.
Yes, it was to this king of Israel, this flawed man, that God made a covenant, a promise, that through his line would come the Messiah – the Christ, whose birth we celebrated just a few days ago.
David received God’s promise.
Our second saint is Joseph. While he wasn’t the biological father of Jesus, in every other human way, Joseph was His dad. God had so much regard, so must respect, for Joseph that he was chosen to raise the Son of God. Beyond that, what do we know of the man? He was a descendant of King David, and it is through that the Jesus gains the legal right to be king.
We also know that he was a good man, a kind man, a just man. When he learned that Mary was pregnant, he could legally have had her stoned as an adulteress. Instead he chose to send her away quietly so that she (and the baby) could at least live. As hurt as he must’ve felt, he did not want her dead, nor did he wish to dishonor her.
After the angel came to him in a dream telling her that the Child was of God and was the Messiah, he devoted himself to protecting Mary and Jesus. He was there at the birth of Jesus. He saw the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise.
As we see in the Gospel reading, he protected them by taking them into Egypt until Herod died and it was safe to return to their home.
Joseph witnessed the promise, and he protected the promise.
Now, we come to our third saint. A close relative, probably a cousin, of Jesus, James was called in the fashion of those days, “brother of the Lord”. He was the first bishop of Jerusalem and the author of the epistle that bears his name.
Much of what we know of his life comes to us from St. Jerome. By all accounts a very holy man, James would spend hours on his knees in the Temple, praying in behalf of the people. So often and so long did he do this that his knees were reputed to be as hard as camel knees.
Eventually, when he refused the demands of the Jewish authorities to deny the divinity of Christ, he was thrown from the Temple roof and then beaten to death with clubs. Like our Lord, before dying he prayed that God would forgive those who killed him, for they didn’t know what they were doing. Some ancient writers, including one Jewish contemporary of his, went so far as to suggest that his martyrdom was the reason God allowed the destruction of Jerusalem.
James lived the Promise.
Today, the Church gives us these three men to serve as models.
Like David, we need to receive the promises of God, we should receive them. Study scripture, live in His word, let His word live in you. And when you sin (and, like David, we are all flawed humans; you will sin), repent and confess it.
Like Joseph, we should observe God’s promises made manifest in our lives. Reflect on how He’s protected us. Reflect on the good He’s given us.
And like him, we need to protect the promises. As we read in 1 Peter, always be ready to give a reason for your faith.
And, like James, we need to live the promises, not just give them lip service. God offers forgiveness through the Church in the form Confession. Take advantage of it. We are offered the Medicine of Immortality – the Eucharist. Receive it and become, as St. Peter said, “partakers of the divine nature”.
David, Joseph, and James – three role models who won’t fail you!