Saturday, December 23, 2017


Deacon Jerry Franzen  Cathedral  – December 24, 2017
II Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Praised Be Jesus Christ. “Good Morning!
As I have mentioned previously the first reading and the Gospel
for each Sunday are chosen so as to be connected in some way.
First we will look at a connection between them for today,
then illustrate the connecting idea with a story
and apply this to our lives as we end Advent.


In the first reading, we heard that David was concerned
about the residence of the Lord God.
A tent was fine for all of that travel time in the desert.
But now that the Israelites were not wandering around,
David thought that the Lord should have a more
permanent place of residence.
After all, David himself had a house made of cedar;
the Lord should have better.
Nathan, the prophet, told David that whatever he did was fine,
because the Lord was with HIM.
In fact the Lord told Nathan to spell it out for David,
to remind David that the Lord, had always been with David.
The Lord had elevated David from shepherd boy to king;
the Lord had also defeated David’s enemies.
Then the Lord also told Nathan to explain that
the He, the Lord, would continue to be with David
and would make him famous.
Furthermore, the Lord would reside in His chosen people
so that they would be at peace.
Furthermore, from the ancestors of David,
the house of David, an heir would come
who would be a king, with the Lord as his father.
And this kingdom will last forever,
for the Lord would reside in His people.
Notice neither Nathan or the Lord asked David if all of this was OK.
David was told, “This is the way it is going to be.”

The tone of the Gospel reading is very similar, a story we know well.
The angel came to Mary and said,
“Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with you.”
Not, “The Lord will be with you if you want him to be.”
Not,  “The Lord will be with you; but rather, the Lord IS with you.”
Mary did question HOW this had happened, but never WHY.
The angel said, “This is the way it is.”
And Mary said “I’m on board.”
“I am the handmaid, the servant, of the Lord.  I’ll go along with it.”
Two persons, David and Mary,
who were told that the Lord was with them,
and both said “Yes” to whatever that would mean for their lives.


Now The story*:
Roger Simms, newly discharged from the military
was hitchhiking his way home on a road to Chicago.
large black expensive sedan went him, and, to his surprise,
it stopped past him and the passenger door was opened.
Roger ran to the car,  put his duffle bag in the back seat
and slid into the leather front seat next to
an elderly gentleman who greeted him with a smile.
Roger explained that he was going home.
The driver told him that he was in luck, if he lived in Chicago.
Roger explained that he wasn’t going quite as far as Chicago
and asked, “Do you live there, Mister?
“I’m Mr. Hanover”, said the driver, “and I own a business there.”
They were off, and their conversation covered several topics.
Roger, a Christian, felt a strong compulsion to witness to Mr. Hanover
about how Christ was so important in his life.
But he kept putting it off for fear that he might offend Mr. Hanover,
who was obviously a very successful businessman.
As they neared Roger’s hometown, he realized it was now or never.

“Mr. Hanover,” Roger began,
”I would like to talk to you about something important.”
Then he proceeded to explain the way to salvation
and asked Mr. Hanover if he had accepted Jesus Christ
as his Lord and Savior.
Mr. Hanover pulled the car on to the shoulder and stopped.
Roger thought that he was about to be put out of the car.
But Mr. Hanover bowed his head to the steering wheel
and began to sob.
He affirmed the fact that he did want to accept Christ into his heart.
Their conversation about salvation continued as they drove on.
When they reached Roger’s hometown,
Mr. Hanover thanked Roger for their discussions about Christ
and he said,
“This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
He dropped Roger off at his house and traveled on toward Chicago.

Five years later, Roger took a trip to Chicago
and decided to look up Mr. Hanover.
The receptionist at Hanover Industries told him
that he couldn’t see Mr. Hanover,
but that he could see Mrs. Hanover.
He was disappointed, but Mrs. Hanover, a woman in her fifties,
rose from her desk and extended her hand and said,
“So you knew my husband.”
Roger told her how Mr. Hanover had given him a ride.
He debated with himself about whether
he should tell her about their conversation about Jesus
and about Mr. Hanover’s conversion.
Mrs. Hanover asked, “Can you tell me what date that was?”
“Sure,” said Roger, “It was May 7th, five years ago,
the day I was discharged from the military.”
Mrs Hanover then asked,
“Did anything special happen on your ride.”
Roger now had to tell about Mr. Hanover’s conversion experience        and their subsequent conversation
and how they had even prayed together.
At that Mrs. Hanover began to cry uncontrollably,
And Roger thought for sure that he had gone too far,
possibly Mr. Hanover’s conversion
had caused a problem in their marriage.

But Mrs. Hanover explained that she had grown up
in a Christian family but her husband had not.
She had prayed for her husband’s conversion for many years.
She went on to explain that shortly after her husband
had dropped Roger off at his home five years before,
her husband had died in a head-on collision.
She then had lost her faith in God – stopped living for the Lord,
when she had thought that God had not answered her prayers.


Dominus vobis cum.  “The Lord is with you” or as we say,
“The Lord be with you.”
The Lord was with David, no matter whether he wanted the Lord,
or whether he believed that the Lord was present in him.
The Lord was with Mary, his presence was not her choice,
yet she cooperated with the Lord.
The Lord was with Roger; he was filled with the Lord.
The Lord was with Mr. Hanover, and he didn’t even know it.
The Lord was with Mrs. Hanover, even though
she had become convinced that the Lord had left her.

The Lord IS with everyone of YOU.
There are times when we, like Roger, are filled with the Lord.
At least there should be times
when we are bursting at the seams with the Lord.
We may be a little hesitant like Roger,
but all we have to do is remember that the Lord is with us.
When we meet that person who doesn’t know about the Catholic faith,
we can have the courage to witness about our relationship with God,
because God became incarnate with the Virgin Mary
and we know that the Lord is with us.
We can stand up for the sanctity of life
from conception to natural death,
because we know that God is on our side – the Lord is with us.

At other times we are like Mr. Hanover,
not even knowing that God is with us.
We stand up for the needs of the homeless.
And we say, “Where did that come from?
What gave me the courage to do that?
Who is right there next to me supporting me?”
Because God became incarnate with the Virgin Mary
we know that the Lord is with us.
And, oh, there are times when nothing is going right,
our world is falling in around us
and we are convinced that the Lord has abandoned us.

One parent is out of work, the other parent must work more,
the younger children are sick,
older children are in trouble in school.   Life is a mess.
Suddenly, light appears at the end of the tunnel,
a friend knows of a job opportunity.
The other parent can now work less.
Solutions to problems are in sight,
health care for the children becomes available with the new job
and the other parent
can now give more attention to school problems.
Things seem to come together – to be not so bad after all,
and we recognize that the Lord was there all of the time.
The Lord is with you – Emmanuel – God with us.
God is with us, because he became one of us.
This is the celebration to which we are pointing. 
May this Christmas and the coming Christmas season begin
with each of us having our faith in God’s presence with us
restored and strengthened,
so that we can say, even proclaim to others,
“Lord, I believe that you are with me; I am your servant. 
                   Be it done unto me according to your word.”

*Story “Right on Time” by Ron Mehl taken from “Stories for the Heart.” Compiled by Alice Gray, Questar  Publishers, Sisters, OR 1996 pp 265-268