The past few years tornadoes have been happening frequently all over our country. We’ve had to learn about the signs of when a tornado is coming. They put a little funnel cloud in the corner of the TV screen. When it is Yellow, it means that there is a tornado Watch. You need to be prepared because a tornado may be coming. When the little funnel cloud on your TV turns Red, it’s time to head for cover. Red means there is a storm Warning. Someone has actually seen a funnel cloud in your area.
A Watch becomes a Warning! Today is the last Sunday of Advent. We are in the final moments of a storm Watch. In two days a Christmas Warning will be issued! Yes, that is correct, a Christmas Warning!, instead of Christmas Morning!
Besides all the messages of love and good will that are rightly proclaimed and sung on Christmas, the birth of Christ is also a time of Warning. The Warning Message – Your life is about to change.
A baby changes everything. If you are a parent or a grandparent, you know what I mean. When that baby came into your life, everything changed. You were home almost all the time. There were diapers to change and sleepless nights. There was a new little one to come home to.
Baby Jesus has been changing everything for over 2,000 years. A tornado of truth and justice touched down in Bethlehem that Christmas morning.
I had a heated discussion one day with a man who tried to convince me that Jesus never talked to a single prostitute in his life. I told him he was wrong. There was one of the Mary’s in the Gospels as well as many other women who were prostitutes that he was accused of being with.
He finally shut me up when he said, “Listen Laz, Jesus never talked to a prostitute because he didn’t see a prostitute. All he saw was a child of God with whom he was madly in love with. This is what Mother Teresa always saw. What Pope Francis sees every day — a child of God who he really cares about and loves.”
In my almost 50 years as a priest, six events really stand out for me. Six times I have helped unwed mothers find a home to stay and then give up their baby for adoption. I remember the first time the most. It was the Fourth Sunday of Advent. I was celebrating mass in a high school cafeteria because it was a brand new parish.
As the scriptures were being read, I noticed that only two seats were open in the very first row. The young woman who was pregnant that I was helping came up and took one of the two seats. She was wearing a poncho. This would be her last Sunday before she went away to stay with some friends of mine.
Then the woman who lived on the far end of the parish who would be adopting the baby came up and sat in the seat next to her. They had never met and they never would meet. The adopting mother, her husband and family would soon be moving to another state.
The young pregnant woman was sitting next to a complete stranger who in a few months would be raising her baby for the rest of his or her life. The adopting mother would be getting the greatest gift of her life from the stranger sitting next to her.
A couple of months later after her had had her baby, I drove the young woman to the Department of Children and Family Services to sign the necessary papers to give up her baby. After I dropped her back home I rushed back to the hospital to put the new baby in the arms of the new parents.
Guess what, I am going to do the same thing again this Sunday. I am going to put a Baby, the Christ-Child in your hands: “The Body of Christ.” A baby, especially Baby Jesus changes everything in your life.
For when you hold that Baby tight in your hands and nurture it in your heart, you too will no longer see a prostitute – you will only see a special child of God.
And when you hold that Baby nice and tight in your hands and nurture it in your heart, you will no longer see a migrant person or a refuge or a homeless person – you will only see a special child of God.
And when you hold that Baby nice and tight in your hands and nurture it in your heart, you will not see a gay or a straight person – you will only see a special child of God.
And when you hold that Baby nice and tight in your hands and nurture it in your heart, you will not see a rich or a poor person, a person of color or with tattoos – you will only see a special child of God.
Our Advent Watch will ever so soon become a Christmas Warning. Because a Baby, the Christ-Child, held tightly in your hands and nurtured in your heart, will change everything!