Homily: Christmas Day 2018

Sacred Heart Cathedral

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

Poets and painters, musicians and theologians, preachers and believers have constantly reflected on these texts to bring out their deepest meaning. This is particularly true of our Gospel reading on Christmas day, which is from the prologue of St John’s Gospel and this passage unfolds for us the mystery of God made man.

Put simply, it summarizes how the "Word" which was with God in the very beginning, came into the sphere of time, history, tangibility - in other words, how the Son of God was sent into the world to become the Jesus of history, so that the glory and grace of God might be uniquely and perfectly disclosed. What made this possible was the incarnation, so that his grace and truth could be seen by human beings in a human being.

Obviously, the text is very rich and dense and needs a lot of reflection, more than can be shared in a brief homily. The same message is really given by St Luke in his more down-to-earth story of the conception and the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, which is read at earlier Christmas Masses. In truth, however, the two passages complement and enrich each other. The Light that is Christ shines in the darkness of our world. It is a light that cannot be overcome because it represents the ultimate values of Truth, Goodness, Beauty, Justice and Love, Compassion and Fellowship, Freedom and Peace.

St John tells us that the Light of the World has come among us. The baby Jesus lies in the dimness of a stable, and He has come to bring his people from darkness into light. As we gaze into the manger, at the tiny creature who is given to us as a light to the nations, we can only whisper ‘Come, let us adore him’.

We live in a world that too often seems enveloped in darkness, poverty and the growing gap between the “haves” and “have nots.” Communities and nations are divided by race, ethnicity and tribe. Overwhelming natural disasters are caused by everything from climate change to negligence in the name of economic development. Then there is terrorism. It can all seem pretty overwhelming.

Today we recall, however, that darkness does not have the last word. We celebrate the coming of the source of our life who is “the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” We celebrate at Christmas God’s mercy to us and the entire world, in the coming of the Christ Child in Bethlehem.

Christmas is a strange season. When you are a child it is a season of presents. When you are young, it seems a season of parties. When you are in your own home, it is a season of preparations. As we move along in life, Christmas changes. Through the haze of old carols and beautiful crib scenes, we begin to see what Christmas is really all about.

Every year life waxes and wanes. Every stage of life comes and goes. Every facet of life is born and then dies. Every good moment becomes only a memory. Every period of living slips through our fingers and disappears. Every hope dims…. until Christmas comes again and we are called at the deepest, most subconscious, least cognizant level to begin to live again.

Christmas brings us all back to the crib of life to start over, aware of what has gone before, conscious that nothing can last, but full of hope that this time, finally, we can learn what it takes to live well, grow to full stature of soul and spirit, and get it right.

It is those looking for life that the figure of the Christ Child beckons. Christmas is not only for children. It is for those who refuse to give up, for those to whom life comes newly and with purpose each and every day, for those who can let yesterday go, so that life can be full of new possibility. It is for those who embrace newness. For all of us, Christmas is a feast without finish, a celebration of the constancy of change, a call to being once more on the journey to human joy and holy meaning.

Christian tradition says that God became human so that human beings might become divine. Jesus brings God fully into our world. He lives among us, in our country, our city, and in the Diocese of Sandhurst! I offer my warmest wishes to you all this Christmas and may the love of the Christ Child and his light, radiate through your hearts and homes throughout Christmas and the new year!