Healing Our Humpty-Dumpty-Humanity

Homily for the Vigil of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ
Preached on December 24, 2010 at St. Andrew Catholic Church, Harrodsburg KY
Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29; Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Matthew 1:1-25

There is an old nursery rhyme that I had learned as a little boy and I am hoping that all of our children here will help me recite it for everyone. The nursery rhyme that I am referring to is about Humpty Dumpty. Let us say it together:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

A monk whom I knew when I was in the seminary (Fr. Bede Marcy, OSB of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman AL) told me that there is more to this nursery rhyme than what we had just recited. In fact, there is this great back story about Humpty Dumpty and his King and I would like to share that story with all of you tonight.

A long, long time ago, there was a very powerful king. This king had hundreds of horses in his stables and legions of knights at his command but none of them proved to be good company for him.  So, he came up with an idea: he would use his power to create a special creature and he would name this creature Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty turned out to be a magnificent creation, but he was also as fragile as an eggshell. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men welcomed Humpty Dumpty into their midst. There was peace and joy in the kingdom.

Now, the king had an enemy: a wicked witch who lived in the West. To keep her away, the king built a wall on the border of his realm. He also commanded Humpty Dumpty to “never never never go near that wall.” “If you do,” the king warned him, “the wicked witch will try to take you away from this happy place.”

But, the king’s command only made Humpty Dumpty more curious of this wall. He tried so hard to stay away. And then, came that one day when the king was not around. Humpty Dumpty snuck out of the palace and went to the wall. He thought that he heard something on the other side and so he called out, “Hello there!”

“Hello,” whispered a dark voice. It was the wicked witch. “You must be Humpty Dumpty. Come; sit on the wall so you can see what you have been missing out in the West.”

Humpty Dumpty replied, “No; my king forbade me to sit on the wall.”

The witch said, “Oh, do not listen to that old king. You can do whatever you want. Do not let his walls or his commandments stop you. Come; sit on the wall and see for yourself what you have been missing out.”

humptyHumpty Dumpty could no longer keep himself from his curiosity. He climbed that wall and sat on it. At once, the wicked witch cast a spell and the wall shook so violently that our Humpty Dumpty lost his balance and down he fell. Humpty Dumpty broke into many pieces. The witch was laughing so hard; finally, she exclaimed, she has scored against her rival the king.

Now the king had heard the loud crash of the fall of Humpty Dumpty. He sent all his horses. He sent all his men. But none of them could put Humpty Dumpty together again.

This, of course, is where the nursery rhyme ends; but, you know, there is more to the story. In fact, boys and girls, this story is not just about Humpty Dumpty, an egghead who fell from a wall. This story is about us and God.

A long, long time ago, God the King made Man and gave him many gifts. But Man fell, falling for a trap set up by the enemy, a wicked witch called the devil. God sent all of His horses and all of His men: prophets and patriarchs, heroes and heralds, kings and knaves. We just heard their names in the genealogy in the Gospel (cf. Mt. 1:1-17): Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Jesse, David, and Solomon. But, none of them could piece us anew after the Fall. None of them could put us back together again.

In the fullness of time, God the King said, “I myself will come down and do it.” So, God became man and He was named Jesus (cf. Mt. 1:25). He climbed that wall that separated Heaven and earth. He sat on that wall and the devil connived to make Him fall. Down, down fell Jesus because of the weight of the cross that He bore for our sins. But, when Jesus fell on the spot where Man had fallen, when the King descended where our Humpty-Dumpty humanity lay in pieces, our Lord was neither shattered nor divided. Instead, Jesus rose up and He lifted with Him our Humpty-Dumpty humanity all together again.

This is what we celebrate this Christmas night: that our God is really with us: Emmanuel by name (Mt. 1:23) and by fact. God came in our flesh so that He would be with us in our humanity, but more so that we could be with Him in His divinity. We are born to die; He was born so that we might live forever. We were once lost in the wilderness; He sought us out to bring us home. We were once broken by sin, damaged beyond repair because of that Fall from the wall; He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows and, by His wounds, healed us of our brokenness (cf. Is. 53:4-5). No more shall men call [us]“Forsaken” (Is. 62:4) because our God is with us and He calls us, “My Delight” (cf. Is. 62:4).

When you forget to whom we owe it all, remember the nursery rhyme:

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.

None of God’s prophets and none of God’s men could piece us back. Only God-become-man could put us who-are-broken-and-messed-up together again. With His birth, His death, and His resurrection, Jesus has made us whole and torn down that wall so that we might enter again His Kingdom of peace and joy.

~ by Fr. Noel F. Zamora on Friday, December 24, 2010.

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