Gen 15, 1-6. 21, 1-13
Heb 11, 8. 11-12. 17-19
Lk 2, 22-40
Saint Mary’s Church, Marlboro, N.Y.
December 28, 2014
Deacon Tom Cornell
It’s been a while. I’m glad to be back; it’s been a rough road. We’ve all been through a rough road in this parish these past couple of years. The less said about that the better. You all know what I mean. But it’s over now. We have a pastor, a real pastor who wants to be with us. He’s kind and he’s wise with the wisdom that is a gift of the Holy Spirit. We are lucky to have him. And by we, I include the people we haven’t seen here for a while. There’s an empty hole right there, too many empty spaces. Where are they? Go tell your friends and neighbors who have dropped away, it’s time to come back. Meet Father Tom. Come home for Christmas!
Today is the Feast of the Holy Family. We are a family, a parish family, and more than that, we are one in the Mystical Body of Christ. When one member suffers, all suffer. When one is built up, all are built up (1 Cor 12, 26). We need one another. We need each other. We are not meant to struggle alone, neither in the battle to keep a roof over our heads nor in spiritual battle to grow in faith, hope and love. God did not lead the People out of Egypt one by one, but as a group.
As many of you know, Monica and I worked closely with Dorothy Day. We were married at the Catholic Worker. Dorothy was our matchmaker. Dorothy described the Catholic Worker movement as a big disorderly family, and we’re still at it behind the cemetery off Lattingtown Road. Come visit any time. Our bishops have petitioned the Vatican to declare Dorothy a saint, unanimously. Imagine that, Saint Dorothy of News York! And just weeks ago, at the Roman synod, Cardinal Dolan begged the Holy Father to move her Cause along. In her early adult life, Dorothy was a Communist. But all her life, even as a Communist, she felt pursued by God. She tried to resist, but she finally gave in at the age of 27 and converted to the Catholic Church. Her Communist friends were puzzled. “If you want to believe in God, that’s your personal decision,” they would say, "but keep it to yourself, and why do you have to join a church, and of all churches the Catholic Church, the worst of them all, the biggest and the strongest, the most reactionary of all our enemies.” Dorothy answered them in their own terms. As revolutionaries we join together in a group, a party. We are not meant to battle alone. So it is in spiritual battle, to grow closer to God, to grow in faith, hope and love we worship together, as a family of faith, a church.
Dorothy didn’t go shopping for a church. She later explained that no other church ever entered her mind. She didn’t examine the claims of the Catholic Church. It was just that, in all the cities where she had ever lived, New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Chicago, the Catholic Church was where the immigrants, the poor and the workers flocked. That was good enough for her!
Today as we commemorate the Holy Family of Nazareth, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we think of family, our own and others. Many families suffer badly. My father was orphaned at age eight, I at age fourteen. Then, even worse, there are parents who bury their children, an unspeakable loss. In times of economic stress a breadwinner may lose his job. It’s quite a feeling when the girl behind the counter hands you your last unemployment compensation check and says, “Good luck!” Yeah, you’re going to need it. Then there is the family whose husband and father is called to war. Whatever their troubles might be, They need our presence, just to be there. If you know of a family in distress, find a way to be present to them. Somehow, shared suffering hurts a little less. Go visit them, and invite them to church next Sunday.
And any others you might know. Let’s get these pews filled up again. This chapel was scheduled for the chopping block some years ago as you know, but you people appealed to the Archdiocese and promised to keep Our Lady of Mercy open and running at no financial loss. And you’ve done it, beautifully. A few years ago I had the opportunity to bring a world-renowned liturgical artist to visit. She had designed churches all over the world, even in Asia. She was stunned; she loved this sacred place. It is really special. Bring a friend next week.
Happy New Year of Our Lord 2015! God bless and keep us all.