December 17 Epiphany Sunday Year A

Sunday Week 4 of Advent Year A

Print Version December 20th, 1998

Have you ever trusted a dream enough to act on it when you wake up? I don’t know about you but some of the things I dream about are not fit for the light of day. We do things in dreams we just wouldn’t dream of doing in daylight.
And most of our dreams don’t even make sense. One minute you’re chasing a black dog up a set of never ending stairs and next minute it’s not really a dog but a cow and it’s asking you for the time of day. Or—and this is a typical one for me—I turn up for a Sunday mass and I’m not ready, can’t find my shoes, homily’s not done, can’t make out the words of the gospel.
OK so some dreams do make a sort of sense—they remind us of our anxieties or nudge us not to forget our desires. And, if you are to believe the psychologists, there’s a lot more in there lurking about waiting to be understood.
But there are other kinds of dreams too—dreams that seem to speak with a special voice. There’s a tone to them or a feeling or an image that we wake up trusting. A voice that seems to affirm a decision made long ago. Or an image that prods us into taking that step we’ve been wondering about for a while now. These are the dreams that seem to tell us what we already know but haven’t paid attention to yet.
Ahaz, the king, doesn’t want any of that kind of dream in his life. I mean you can’t go running a country by asking God to keep on showing you what to do. God has better things to do than worry about politics. Better to leave the politics to the politicians and let people do their praying in church where God belongs. Ahaz does not want to be disturbed from his own path.
I guess Joseph didn’t want that either. I guess his ambitions were for an ordinary life, cutting his wood, shaping it. Betrothed to Mary, a good wife in the making, marriage soon, a household blessed by children. But all that had been already ruined by her betrayal, pregnant by someone else. Enough to break your heart when you’d trusted her so, enough to make another man want revenge. Only a word in the right ears and Mary could be stoned to death for breaking her vows. But Joseph isn’t that other man. He just wants to get on along his own path and set Mary aside quietly with no harm done. That’s when the dream tells him what he already knows somewhere in his heart. And from then on, his life is not the one he thought it would be.
Christmas is coming, as always, wrapped in dreams. The dreams of angels for peace on earth and good will among nations. The dreams of families across the globe for healing, and hope, and lasting joy, and enough to eat. At Christmas, those two dreams bump into each other. We do so want peace and hope and healing. But we also don’t want our lives disrupted. We don’t really want God to interfere with us … won’t someone else do?
But this Christmas the bombs are falling, the president is impeached, and God knows what other craziness is disturbing our lives. What are our dreams asking of us in this mess? What do we have to dream so that God can be with us this Christmas? But more importantly what do we have to dream so that God can be with someone else this Christmas? That’s the harder dream to dream. Or perhaps it’s not harder to dream—since God is dreaming it in us already—perhaps it’s just harder to trust.

Entry Filed under: Berkeley,Homilies


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