Christmas Homily

Christmas Homily

 Readings: Isaiah 9:1-6, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14

 

We hear about them all the time in the news, more than we would like: senseless acts—things that don’t make any sense, things that shake up our senses about who we are as people living on earth: violence and assaults; war and destruction; injustice and oppression, corruption and inhumanity—acts that remain senseless, even though we hear about them all the time and shake our heads and wonder where the world is headed.  And of course we also know that there are accidents and natural disasters and illnesses as well.  Senselessness.

 

And yet, we gather here tonight in joy and exultation, in thanks and praise, in faith and in hope.  ¿Why?  Because of another seemingly “senseless” act: God taking on a human face.  Almighty God, Eternal Creator of the universe, of all that is visible and invisible, becoming one of us; and becoming one of us not in some grand way, but in the humblest of ways: as “an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” because there was not even room for them in the inn.  Senselessness.

 

Senseless, unless we recognize our need for God, our need for a savior and redeemer, for a light to shine through the darkness and gloom, for cleansing from godless ways and worldly desires.  Despite all of our senseless acts, God loves us still, looks upon us with mercy, and in that love continues to call us to a share in His own divine life, through Christ our Lord, who came that we might have life and have it abundantly.  And “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this!”  He did this through the gift of Himself in the manger, and through the gift of Himself on the Cross.  In the end, this is perhaps not so senseless after all, because of the self-giving love that is God.

 

Last week, Pope Francis stated, “Jesus did not simply appear on earth, and did not dedicate just a little of His time to us, but rather came to share our life and to receive our desires, as He wanted and still wants to live here, along with us and for us. Our world, which at Christmas became His world, is important to Him. The crèche reminds us of this: God, in his great mercy, descended to us to stay with us… God does not like the dramatic revolutions of the powerful of history, and does not use a magic wand to change situations. Instead He makes Himself small; He becomes a child, to attract us with love, to touch our hearts with His humble goodness, to draw attention through His poverty to those who worry about accumulating the false treasures of this world.”  And as one of my favorite Catholic speakers says, “God didn’t come to ‘wow’ us but to ‘woo’ us.”

 

The birth of the Christ Child shows that God meets us where we’re at.  But He doesn’t leave us where we’re at.  That would be senseless.  “The grace of God has appeared” in human form, and in that our humanity is made whole.  God became like us so that we could become like God and to find our life in Him.  As we celebrate Jesus’ Nativity today, let this Christmas be a time for a new birth in us as well, as we have received the greatest of all gifts: a savior has been born for us who is Christ and Lord.  “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, upon those who dwell in the land of gloom a light has shone.”

 

As an essential part of our Christmas celebration, we gather here today [as we do each Sunday] to celebrate the Eucharist – the Word Made Flesh dwelling with us once again, this time in the form of bread and wine.  In this great Communion, we participate in “the mystery of faith,” in the mystery of our restoration/of our redemption/of our salvation; and we are given a share in that victory over sin and death that Christ was born to accomplish.  Especially at this Christmastime, may our hearts and minds be awakened to the saving presence of Christ, and “let every heart prepare Him room.”