Blessings on this great solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ! This Christmas I gave myself a challenge: I would use the proper readings that the Church prescribes for each Mass and preach on each one. It was a really powerful experience for me to really get the sense I was walking deeper and deeper into the mystery of this central component of our faith. From the development in the prayers at Mass as the solemnity moves from the vigil-mass at night-mass at dawn-mass during the day. I was also grateful that I could offer one of the Christmas Masses for the parish where I am an administrator. So I will only share one of those homilies with you today. I had a bit of a marathon–four Christmas Masses, so after the last Mass I was pretty worn out. On top of this I was on hospital duty yesterday, and thankfully no emergency calls happened. I was happy that at the last mass my dad and stepmom attended. Afterward I got a picture with my dad. There was lots and lots of incense! Now I’m looking forward to a little time of rest to really bask in the glow of the octave of Christmas!
Here is the homily I preached at the Mass of the Day:
In the beginning was the Word,…
Maybe when you came to Mass today, on Christmas Day, you expected to hear the beautiful Gospel of Luke and the scene of the birth of our Lord, or the Angels greeting the shepherds and calling them to adore the Christ child.
Then we hear this beginning from the Gospel of John, which might not strike us as a narrative of the birth of our Lord. Yet, the whole mystery of the incarnation and birth of our Lord is covered in this Gospel:
He existed for all time, all life comes through Him, the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us, and to those who receive Him are given power to become children of God.
There is so much in this Gospel to ponder, but the central theme is this: The Blessed Trinity did not want to remain distant, and the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity took on human flesh and entered into our human condition. He became human in all things but sin. God does not want to remain distant from us.
This great solemnity we ponder this great mystery: God who existed forever took on human flesh in the womb of the Blessed Mother and was born in a little cave. He came to give life, and life in abundance. He doesn’t want to just keep you or I out of hell, but He wants to give life in abundance. Saint John reminds us that for those who receive Him, they are given POWER to become children of God. Normally we don’t associate children with the word power, but if we wish to be truly powerful, we must be like children. We need the simplicity and humility of children. We need to remain in the life that this Christ child calls us to live. We do this through the Sacraments, and not by white knuckling our way through life. It is a supernatural life that our Lord pours into our souls first at Baptism and then sustained through the Eucharist and Confession. If we are choosing to not come to Mass on Sundays, we are choosing to not receive and welcome this life. Yet, He invites you: if you have fallen away from the Sacraments, fallen away from coming to Mass: come to the Sacrament of Confession first before receiving Holy Communion. It is in the Sacraments that our Lord creates us anew, just when He created all of creation at the beginning of time.
Our Lord does not call us to live a mediocre life, to simply survive. No, he calls us to a life that is so awesome that it lasts for all eternity. Nobody in the Gospels who encounters our Lord ever leaves without having some change. There is one man who goes away sad, and it is because he chooses his own way rather than God’s call to a deeper relationship.
Saint Leo the Great: “Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.
Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.”
Have a Blessed Christmas and let us pray always for one another.