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Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 24, 2023

Watch this homily! (Begins at 39:38)

     A checkout clerk at my neighborhood supermarket is a young, very engaging African American fellow with an unfailingly positive outlook on life and really big dreams – which he sometimes shares with me: a higher-paying job, a law degree, winning the lottery, a knockout of a wife (his words!), a round-the-world cruise, and most recently, a trip to Mars. Whenever he shares one of his dreams with me he looks me in the eye and adds, “You know, ain’t nothin’ impossible for God.” I love his spirit and, of course, I never disagree with him about that!

     “Nothin’s impossible for God.”  That’s the message that literally leaped off the page in today’s scripture readings. In the reading from the Book of Samuel King David was front and center, comfortably settled in his palace, victorious over his enemies, a mighty figure by any reckoning. But it’s well to remember David’s story and where he came from. David was the youngest of seven brothers, a shepherd tending the flocks, a nobody – until the day the prophet Samuel arrived, called for him, and anointed him. But why David and not one of his more mature and impressive brothers? Well, the short answer is that God likes to work wonders with very little; the short answer is that “nothing is impossible for God.”

     We got the same story in today’s passage from Luke’s gospel. A nobody, an unknown young girl by the name of Mary in a backwater town called Nazareth is visited by an angel, presented with an invitation from God, gives her consent, and finds herself with child by the Holy Spirit. Unlikely?  Absolutely. Impossible? No. Because “nothing is impossible for God.”

     My friends, this will be a short homily because -  let’s be honest – we’ve got a lot of ‘church’ to do in the next twenty-four hours!

     But, for just a moment, let’s look inwardly and ask ourselves a question or two: like, what have I declared to be impossible in my life? Shaking an old habit? Overcoming a crippling addiction? Breaking out of my self-centeredness? Becoming more loving? Saving my marriage? Loving a difficult family member? Being more ethical at work? Becoming a saint?

     Or take a little broader look and ask ourselves what else we’ve given up on? Our idealism? Our hopes for the Church, for our country? Making a dent in the glaring inequalities that cause hunger and homelessness? Bringing climate change under control? The possibility of world peace?

     If we find ourselves saying yes to these things and others like them, the question then becomes: what will it take for us to believe again – really believe - that we have a God who, with our cooperation, turns things around: makes the crooked ways straight and the rough ways smooth, a God who never runs out of surprises, a God who can do so much with so little – with insignificant Mary of Nazareth, with you, with me.

     My friends, what would it be like if we were to draw close to the crib this Christmas – with all its smells and all its squalor yet with all the glory of the Godhead wrapped in rags – what would it be like if we were to see there, perhaps for the first time, a whole new world of endless and exciting possibilities, thanks to the God for whom nothing – absolutely nothing – is impossible!

Father Michael G. Ryan





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Seattle, Washington  98104
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