24 November 2009

Nativity, Passing of Empires and Vietnamese Martyrs

(a few words which I shared with the children, today)

Yesterday evening I went to the world premier of Nativity, a new film from the Director Debbie Isitt, all about, well, the title gives the game away! It was nice to see many of you there looking so good in your smart party dresses and suits. Wasn't it exciting as all the stars arrived and walked along the red carpet. There was even a camel, like in the film! It was partly filmed in your school and stars many children from our parish. It's a wonderful film which gives you a warm glow. A family movie that hits the mark. Please God, you will get to see it soon.

I don't want to spoil the story, but there is one scene which, for me, was a highlight. Near the beginning we are told that all nativity plays are based on a simple fact: the birth of a child, Jesus. As the film reaches it's climax we have, as foretold, the birth of Jesus and Mary holds up the child for all to see. It's total Hollywood: and the lights are blinding, the music is amazing and we're left awestruck by the moment. A moment which I will talk about again in a few moments.

Today, as we listen to the Word of God, we hear the story of Daniel giving an interpretation of the King's dream. We learn of the passing of kingdoms and this reminds us of our history. Of the empires which have risen and then been washed away. We might have heard of the Egyptians, the Romans or might even have studied a little about the British empire and how, in recent years, it too has changed so much. Through war and destruction much as passed away.

Then in the Gospel we heard about how they were admiring the beauty of the Temple. How wonderful it was to behold. Yet Jesus tells us that it will be destroyed also. He says not one stone will sit on top of another. Try to imagine what that must be like. Everything is going to be destroyed. And we think about those Vietnamese martyrs who lost their life because they believed in Jesus and wanted to follow him in their life. They really were committed to being friends with Jesus.

It can make us sad and begin to lose hope when we think about all the terrible things that happen in our world. And yet. In the midst of those words from Jesus he said something which is the most common expression in the whole of the bible. A little phrase that it is easy to miss. In fact, I missed it when I was reading the Gospel the other day. Did you notice it? Jesus said, don't be frightened. He wants us not to be worried or frightened because he will be there for us. No matter how bad life gets, he will be there.

In a few minutes, I will lift up the host, like this, and we can see before us Jesus. Just like in the film and all those years ago when Jesus became a man and bought hope to his people, he will come amongst us to bring us hope too. Like when Mary lifts up Jesus for all to see, the priest at Mass lifts up the body of Christ for us all to see. And when the priest does this, close your eyes, bow your head and say, My Lord and My God, because that is who he is.

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