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Christmas: Humility of God and a call to hospitality for us

Homily for Christmas Mass 2014

Exactly, a month ago, there was a news on the daily telegraph, that really made me cringe. According to the daily telegraph: ‘The malnourished baby boy was found abandoned at the bottom of a 2.4m drain, covered by a concrete slab, after a cyclist and his daughter heard the baby’s screams early Sunday morning.”  “A newborn baby”, the news goes on, “may have been trapped in a storm water drain on the side of a Sydney motorway for up to five days before he was found by passing cyclists…With temperatures tipped to peak above 40C in Western Sydney today there were concerns the child would have died if he had been found later in the day.”  (source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/)

Things like this really made me sick in the stomach.  It made me question how could a mother abandon such an innocent, vulnerable, helpless, defenceless, voiceless human being? How could someone do such a thing?

Friends, I know it is Christmas, a time of joy and a time of peace, a time of giving, a time of sharing, a time of caring, and you might say, I should have chosen a better story than the one I mentioned above. However, I can’t help it, because the story of that little child is a modern Christmas story.

The boy was left to die in the drain. He was abandoned, left to the elements. Somebody heard his cry and came to his rescue. And now I hope he is assured to live with a beautiful story of redemption to tell later on.

That is the story of Christmas. This is our story too. In a way, we are like that little child, helpless, vulnerable, and defenceless against the evil one, groping in the dark gutter of sin and death, thrown in the drain of damnation, Yet, God hears our cry for help. He came down not only to help us out from the gutter of sin and death and leave us on our own once again, but to assure us of a brighter and better future ahead of us. He has come to show us the life reserved for us for all eternity. He came to be the great light for us who walked in the darkness and in the shadow of death.

Christmas means that God has come to be with us-Emmanuel. He is here as one truly like us, in all  things except sin. He listens to our pleas for healing. He listens to our problems. He is sensitive to our needs. He cares for us. As St Paul would say in the Second Reading tonight: ‘He sacrificed himself for us order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people’ and called us to be his own.’

This is one, if not the main reason of all of our Christmas celebrations and Christmas Do’s.

Christ, has come to light our lives. Let us welcome him to be our light, to be at the centre of our lives.

To welcome him this Christmas and more importantly in our lives, is to visit him in the manger/ on the crib. We are to spend time in prayer and reflection before the nativity scene. We begin reflecting on Mary and how she would have felt having given birth not only in the foreign land, but also not in her house, or in the hospital, not even in a proper bed. She gave birth, with Joseph and no other, not even with close friends. She gave birth in the manger- the place to keep the animals at night.  Let us also reflect on Joseph, who stood by Mary, no matter how incomprehensible his situation is, no matter how much would it take him to be the human Father of Jesus.

Let us also reflect on the shepherds, humble, and simple people, loyal workers, no particular voice in the society, no privileged position in their community, just like many of us here tonight, yet readily went to pay a visit to the new-born child once they heard the good news of his birth.

Let us reflect on the lowliness, the poverty, the ordinariness, the simplicity of the manger, that hosted the most important, the most influential, the most powerful person not only in the whole world, but in all of creation, the richest person, the best of all philanthropists- God himself, who was made flesh for us.

To welcome Christ this Christmas also means we give him a place in our dining tables, in our Christmas parties, and celebrations. Even to say grace in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the  Holy Spirit, to acknowledge the presence of God in our homes, to give thanks to God for the blessings he gave us for the past year, would be pleasing to God and a way to give a birthday treat for the birthday boy- the child Jesus.

The question is: Do we even say grace still before or after meals/ Do we still make the sign of the Cross, or say the Trinitarian formula in the name of the Father, and of the Son when we sit down for meals? No matter how short or how simple a prayer of thanks would that be, it matters a lot, because it is a prayer of gratitude. I found some of this simple prayers and feel free to use this.  

Our Heavenly Father, we thank you for this food, and humbly request that you perform a miracle and remove the calories from dessert.

Lord, please bless this sumptuous feast, and bless the pizza guy who delivered these.

 Our heavenly Father, we thank you for this food we are about to receive…well, everything except the liver and maybe the cauliflower.

 Lord bless my family and may they be nice when they realize I dropped the food on the floor twice.

To welcome Christ this Christmas is to recognize him and welcome him when we meet him on the streets or in our workplaces, or even in our homes. He may be the homeless man looking for an accommodation or some change to get through  the night. He may be the old man in the nursing home with no family and friends to spend Christmas with. He may be the young woman who was looked down by her male colleagues at work. He may be a boy or a girl at home who are surrounded by beautiful toys and the like but never listened to, or seldom appreciated. He may be the person with disability next door living on his or her own, and often abused verbally, physically. He may be the old widow in the neighbourhood who had no one to talk to, or had nobody cared for him.

Christ has come for all of us and for each of these. The challenge for us is to recognise him and make him feel welcome.

Let us make Christ alive in our hearts…this is what Christmas is all about.

With peace and blessings from the Most High, I wish you all a Happy Christmas and Blessed New Year…

God bless!

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