Christmas Morning Mass 2018
Poor Clare’s Monastery of the Holy Spirit
Isa 62:11-12; Ps 97:1-12; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:15-20
This scene in St Luke’s Gospel is among the most beloved of not just the Christmas story but the whole Bible. It is the source of all of our Christmas crèches and nativity scenes. It is a story of wonder and beauty and tenderness in which we see God’s parental heart revealed.
But today, this part of the story also captures my dream for Church. Not just at Christmas – though that’s a good place to start – but throughout the year.
There are three movements in this brief scene:
1. The shepherds are filled with expectation so that once they have heard the report of the angels they go as quickly as they can to find Mary and Joseph.
2. They are not disappointed, as they find the angels spoke truly. Indeed, they are filled with wonder and delight by the holy family gathered around their newborn son.
3. Filled with joy, they go and tell others of what they have seen, who are themselves also filled with a sense of expectation and wonder as well.
So there it is: expectation, delight, report. This scene – and our lives in the Christian community – in a nutshell. But Christmas is even more than that!
Just as those in all our churches will kneel before our new born Saviour, we too, will do so - our hearts full of thoughts and prayers.
Take your time there. See in the images of the crib, the great act of God’s loving humility, coming to us in poverty, so that we may not be overwhelmed by God’s majesty but drawn to God’s love.
As you see the outstretched arms of the child hear again those words of invitation from the Song of Songs: ‘Come then, my love, my lovely one, come. For see, the winter is past the rains are over and gone.’ These are indeed the words of the Lord to each one of us. He continues: ‘Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is beautiful.’ (Song of Songs 2.10-14)
Here is the invitation of Christmas: that the Lord, in coming to us, wants above all to draw us to himself. He loves us, each of us, in our hidden selves, more than we could ever know. In his sight we are beautiful of face and sweet of voice. We may not think so. But he sees us with fresh, Christmas eyes. He sees deep into the soul given to each one of us by his heavenly Father and beautiful beyond measure.
Let us open our hearts to him, respond to his invitation, allow the life of our soul to breathe with a fresh grace, the grace that comes with forgiveness and repentance, the grace which enables us to rise from our knees with new heart, new hope and new love.
I wish you all a very happy and holy Christmas. Please keep your priests in your prayers this Christmas, as you are in theirs, and include me among them too.
May God bless you all.