Homily: Christmas Day Mass, Poor Clare's Monastery

Christmas Early Morning Mass
Monastery of the Holy Spirit

Isa 62:11-12; Ps 97:1-12; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:15-20

The crib, the hangings and the carols ringing in our ears, remind us of what a special day this is. On this night was born a child who revealed God to the world in the endearing weakness of a baby, surrounded, not by the important and powerful, but by shepherds, by men and women accustomed to respond to nature in simple, ordinary ways.

This is Christmas Day! We celebrate the Birth of our Lord. This event has changed our whole world, even though at times we cannot see any change at all. Love is at work in our world and in time Love will conquer all else. It is not easy to believe that, but it is true. Thus we must walk by faith. How differently we respond to the world when we know that Love has conquered all and already changed all.

For many, the present time seems as if the followers of Jesus are less and less able to communicate His love and His compassion. Yet we must keep on seeking to communicate that love and compassion. For many, the way of Jesus seems foolishness and against what the world considers right and helpful. Yet we must remain faithful to the Lord and believe that the teachings of Jesus are not foolishness but wisdom, not unhelpful but full of life.

We are invited to allow Jesus to transform our lives completely. The Word became flesh and dwelled among us so that we might become divine and live a new life in God. The words are easy to say. The reality is a challenge for us each day that we live. Yet we can give thanks for this new life and continue to ask God to transform us into His own divine image each day—even as we give thanks.

Christ is born today. Christ is born in us each day, if we are open to His divine actions. Christ is steadfast with us even when we are not faithful to Him.

There are four Masses that are celebrated for the feast of Christmas, and each is given its own set of readings to help us contemplate Christ's birth. Chapter 2 of St Luke’s Gospel:15-20 is the reading for the early Mass on Christmas morning. It continues the story of the birth of Jesus with the shepherds' visit to the infant Jesus.

As the angels return to heaven, the shepherds decide to go see what has happened in Bethlehem. Their visit confirms everything the angels had told them about the birth of the Savior and Messiah. They then spoke publicly about all they had seen, to the great astonishment of all who heard. Mary ponders all this in her heart, and the shepherds return to their fields praising God. What had been told to them really happened.

This account does not tell us very much about the infant Jesus because Luke's concern is that God's action of sending a savior be publicly proclaimed. The picture is simple, two parents and an infant in a stable. But the reality is great, God's salvation offered to all.

Know that the open arms of the baby in the crib this Christmas are open for us and for all those we love – open to forgive us, open to comfort us, open to embrace us in the simplest and most beautiful way. For God is love. God created each one of us for love and will never cease inviting us. Of all the journeys we will ever make, the most important journey is the journey to the heart. As the Christ-child comes into our hearts in communion this morning, let us allow our weary souls to experience his love. He will attract us back, for he is the one whom our souls love. Our hearts will remain restless till they rest in him. May the peace of the Christ Child be yours at Christmas and throughout the coming year!