Homily: Christmas Day Mass 2017

CHRISTMAS DAY MASS
2017

 Isa 52:7-10; Ps 98:1-6; Heb 1:1-6; John 1:1-18

The crib, the hangings and the carols ringing in our ears, remind us of what a special time this is. In Bethlehem 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. The Gospel reveals this light, shattering the darkness of the night sky, as the glory of God shines on the face of a tiny infant. God offers this gift of light to each of us here today and to all those we love.

The magnificent passage you have just heard is from the opening of St John’s Gospel. There is no mention of Bethlehem, of Mary, of shepherds, or the stable and the manger, so why do we read this Gospel for Christmas Day?

The Bethlehem story, of course, was told during last night’s Mass. But today we are, as it were, going behind the scenes, and looking at the deeper meaning of that story.

As the letter to the Hebrews (Second Reading) tells us today, God in the past spoke to us through many prophets and other spokespersons. But now “he has spoken to us through his Son” – because the Son is the Word of God. This Son is the “radiant light of God’s glory” and “the perfect copy of his nature”.
In seeing all that Jesus says and does, we are being put in touch with the very nature of God. Born in utter simplicity without many of the conveniences of life that we would take for granted and regard as essential; Mary and Joseph welcome Jesus into this world, away from home, rejected by every place of shelter in the town and first visited by ‘shepherds’.

It is important to be aware that this scene is not just for pious contemplation. It contains a message. God has become a human person like us; he has come to live and work among us. He has entered our world to bless it and to liberate all those enslaved by oppression, by hunger and homelessness, enslaved by addictive habits and substances, enslaved by fear, anger, resentment, hatred, loneliness…

Then too, some of us are so caught up in the cares and occupations of life that we normally do not find time to worship God and enjoy the intimate communion with Jesus that is central to the life of the Christian community.

There can be other reasons as well: reasons of hurt, rejection, confusion. Yet, such is the attraction of this day when God embraced humanity  in  all  its  life-­‐giving  goodness  and  in  all  its  destructive  wickedness,  that  we want to be here to celebrate Christmas. I hope everyone feels welcome because this church is for you, this community is for you, and Jesus truly present here in the Eucharist longs to give himself to you. Thank you all for coming, like the shepherds, to be here with him.

Know that the open arms of the baby in the crib 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 Christmas, let us allow our weary souls to experience his love.

 

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