Homily for Christmas mass December 25 2012
What a night of joy it is! It is a joy to see so many people here tonight making this night a truly special one for families and friends. It is a joy to see so many people of different nationalities here tonight coming to celebrate together the birthday of our saviour. It is a joy because we who are here today are expressing that Christmas is more than just a family gathering over meals, or being involved in a Christmas frenzy, or taking holidays from work. I believed you are all here tonight because you understand Christmas as a celebration of faith. Christmas is indeed and it should be a faith-inspired, a faith-motivated and faith-filled celebration. Thank you for showing that tonight.
It is fitting that we keep this night as a special night for us- a night of Christmas, we may say because of three things: God’s great love for us, God’s humility and God’s faithfulness.
God loved us so much that he gave his only Son (Jn 3:16). This is what Christmas is basically about. However we can only understand the whole meaning of Christmas as God choosing to be born into the world and become human like us except sin, if we are enlightened by our faith. It is only with faith that we can see Christ, the Lord, the God-Incarnate who comes to be our joy, our hope, our happiness and our peace. Only with faith that we see Christ, our Messiah as one who comes to build bridges not walls and to make us one despite our differences in skin-colour, language or tongue. It is only with faith that we appreciate all the more the truth that we are all members in the one family of God. With faith, we are assured that because of love God didn’t only come to tell us what to do, but really he came and chose to be human like us in order to show how to be truly human. Thank God for the gift of faith and thank God for loving us so much.
At Christmas, God humbles himself and becomes the sweet message for the poor, the lowly, the ignorant, and the poor shepherds. As the angel declares “today in the town of David, a saviour has been born to us- Christ the Lord.” God makes himself little and poor to make us precious, loved and rich in his mercy and grace. He chose to be born in a lowly manger to identify with us in our poverty and need for comfort and salvation. This is how beautiful our God is.
Christmas is also a time to remind us that God is always faithful to his promises. It might take time, even a very long time for the promise to be fulfilled but it will come. The prophet Isaiah in our First Reading today can testify this. Many centuries ago, he prophesied that the Messiah, who is to come would be called Wonder-counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince of Peace, and he would serve as the light for the people who are walking in the dark. And tonight, Isaiah would be rejoicing with the saints in heaven that his words came to its fulfilment in the birth of Jesus Christ. This just tells us that God really fulfils our wishes. In the time of the Old Testament as well as in the time of Isaiah, the people wished for a messiah. Now, in the New Testament, God has fulfilled this wish.
What is your wish for this Christmas?
Tell the baby Jesus in the manger. He definitely would make that real for you.
Here’s a concrete example.
When Pope Benedict was 7 years old, like any kids he also had wishes. In fact he wrote a letter addressed not to Santa but to Baby Jesus. The letter which was just being unearthed recently contained the little Joseph Ratzinger’s Christmas wish. This is what he wrote: Dear Baby Jesus,
Quickly come down to earth. You will bring joy to children. Also bring me joy. I would like a Volks-Schott (one of the first prayer books in German), green clothing for Mass (as children, he and his brothers used to play games as priests) and a heart of Jesus (because his family was devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus). I will always be good. Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger
It’s hard to tell if Pope Benedict got all his wishes. What can be certain though is that if at a young age, he had already desired to become a priest, then he has definitely received it. In fact, he received more. He became a brilliant theologian, a beautiful priest, a bishop, a Cardinal and then now a Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
So if this is how faithful our God is, we who have received this Good News are also called to be faithful. We are invited for a renewal of our faith, a rediscovery of the beauty of our faith. And this Christmas is one opportune time for this.
How can we really make this Christmas a time for renewal of our faith?
One way is from St Paul in our Second Reading today. He would urge us ‘to give up everything that does not lead to God, [and to give up] all our worldly ambitions.’ (Tit 2:11-14).
Another way I would propose to renew and rediscover our faith is this: As you go out of this Church tonight, look up the roof of the Church. There’s a Bethlehem star attached to the Cross. Like that Bethlehem star that led the magi to the place where Jesus was born, be a light to your family and friends and bring them to Jesus as well.
Let us make this resolution bearing in mind that it is God who has done this first to us. Because of his great love he humbles himself by fulfilling the promise of saviour he has promised to us through the prophets.
Merry Christmas to one and all. May the spirit of Christmas- that is the great of love of God for us- be kept alive in our hearts and to be shared by everyone in our gift-giving and in our Christmas gatherings. May you all have a holy, happy and a meaningful Christmas celebrations and worship. Be generous towards one another, especially on the roads. Be mindful of the other road users. Drive safely because it’s Christmas and the baby Jesus is on board.