There is a quote that I really liked on my Facebook wall: Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.’
St Luke must have this in mind as he wrote the gospel. And tonight’s gospel on the birth of our Lord according to Luke is no exception. Luke narrates that God has come in the flesh for everyone. So we’ve got all these people mentioned in our gospel, representing the different ranks in the society, beginning with the emperor down to the poor shepherds. It’s just saying to us that Christmas is for all people, no matter who we are, rich or poor, boy or girl, old or young. Christmas is for all of us.
This time, we always hear people greeting to us: Merry Christmas.
But why do we have to be merry? What’s the reason of being happy?
Because of what had happened in the past?
We have sinned. We broke the relationship with God. And Christ is the only one who can bridge and repair the broken relationship between us and God. Through sin we become aliens towards God and towards our sisters and brothers.
“The consequences of alienation from God are great,” says the Catechism. “We are alienated from each other. Male and female, originally meant for mutual help and support in love, become the temptation and ruin of each other. We are alienated ourselves; we are ashamed because we are standing naked. We are alienated from life, the birth of new life takes place in pain. Finally, we are alienated from our environment; ‘by the sweat of his brow, he must earn his bread.’ (accdg to Genesis).
God has to become human to understand our humanity and to help us get up from our fallen humanity. And Christmas is the time when God has become like us. It’s indeed worth remembering and it is worth rejoicing.
Because of what happens in the present?
Christmas is happening to us everyday. This means that God is always coming to reach us, to establish a relationship with us everyday, in our daily work, in our ordinary human circumstances. It might have happened more than two thousand years ago, in that silent night, in the lowly manger in Bethlehem, when God has given us the most wonderful and memorable present we can ever have. Jesus-Christ, the God-made-man was born in Mary, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in the manger is God himself born for us. And we are all here tonight to celebrate his birthday, to remember and re-live again that wonderful time of our salvation history, when God has made the big decision to become ‘Emmanuel’ (God-with-us) for us. God has come to us not only to tell us something but to live with us, really as one like us- human beings. Tonight God has come out of his own comfort zone. Tonight God has come down from his throne in heaven and chooses to be born in the lowly manger. Tonight God who is the source of all riches has chosen to be born in poverty, in and through that mere ordinary human situation in Bethlehem. Tonight God has come not only to tell us that he loves us but really to embrace us in a more personal and real way. If God has a skype, we might say, he not only rings us through skype but really he came to us personally, to touch us, to enjoy our company, and to be with us.
God has come as one like us to save us from our sins and to lead us to eternal life with him. Today we celebrate Christmas by renewing our relationships, re-connecting again, refreshing ourselves, giving presents, sharing experiences, enjoying the gift of life, counting our blessings and thanking God for everything he has done for us.
But why do we have do all this? Why do people bother doing this?’ Why do we have to be here this time, when we could have enjoyed a lovely meal and a glass of red in the pub down the road? Why do we come to here tonight when we could have been partying by now with our friends and relatives?
Because of what will happen in the future.
We are doing this for the future. We are not destined to party here on earth forever. Christmas means looking forward to the future. Christmas is not just remembering a piece of history. It’s no wonder a certain TV comedian said he doesn’t like history because there’s no future in it. Christmas is also not just enjoying life now or celebrating with friends now. Christmas aims or looks towards the future.
We can celebrate Christmas in the future by savouring the fruit of Christmas- which is our salvation, our eternal union with God, our perpetual gaze at the face of our Creator, our Saviour, our God.
Our Christmas lights are just glimpses or preview of the eternal light we have with God in the future. When we sing the Christmas songs, we are participating in the choirs of angels in heaven glorifying God for all he has done for us.
So our call: Be a Christian. How? Take on Christ. Let’s make Christ Jesus, the centre of our life. If we take Christ out of the word Christian, what remains is the IAN- and it can mean I AM NOTHING.
So as we celebrate this Christmas, let’s be proud of our being a Christian. Let’s walk in that great light which God has brought to us, according to Isaiah in our first Reading today. St Paul would add let’s give up everything that does not lead to God and all our worldly ambitions. Let’s live a good and religious lives here and now. Let’s us get out of our comfort zones and reach out to those people who are needing us and also whom we may need help from.
May we all have a happy, holy and safe Christmas.
Merry Christmas to us all.