Christmas 2018

posted 1 Jan 2019, 02:08 by Parish Office

Homily for the Christmas 2018)

 

Have you ever thought what it would be like if there was no celebration of Christmas in this country?  It’s maybe in some ways a bit of a strange question, but let’s just run with it for a moment.  Just suppose, for whatever reason, Christmas was wiped off the national calendar.  No tinsel, no Christmas shopping, no time off from work or school for the 25th, no celebration, no meal, not even any Father Christmas.  Nothing.  What a miserable, boring time it would be.  We would just have winter.  The nights getting longer, the daylight getting shorter, the temperature falling, everything boring.  In the days of Communist Yugoslavia they didn’t totally ban Christmas, but they downplayed it, and tried to put all the emphasis instead onto the New Year.  But what’s New Year compared to Christmas?

 

Praised be to God, we do have Christmas.  We have the Christmas carols and songs, presents and the Christmas holidays.  We have Christmas crackers with silly jokes and little things that no one knows what to do with.  We have Christmas cake, turkey, sprouts, a Christmas tree, Christmas cards, decorations, song, laughter, joy, meeting up with family and friends, feeling appreciated and loved.  But best of all, at the heart of it all, we have Jesus.  God cares so much for us that He became one of us.  The Father sent His Son.  [Vigil Mass] “The Virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.”  [Mass During the Night] “Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”  [Mass During the Day] “The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” 

         

Nothing can beat that.  No piece of technology can rival God becoming one of us, and to start with, being a baby.  Isn’t it amazing – God didn’t just beam down to earth as a fully-grown man, instead He was conceived of the Virgin Mary and was born as a baby.  The God who made the universe, with all the stars, became a helpless baby, relying on His mother and father to supply all His needs, the first one being to keep Him warm from the cold.  We read that Mary wrapped her first-born Son in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.  It’s something that any child can relate to.  God is not just for grown-ups.  God is not just a concept or an idea for philosophers to debate about.  He’s someone we can relate to, who became one of us.  Sometimes, people can be afraid to turn back to God.  Perhaps there is something in their past that they find it hard to face.  Tonight, we focus on God being born among us as a baby.  As the carol Once in Royal David’s City says, “He was little, weak and helpless”.  There is no need to be afraid of Him.  Offer all your worries and burdens to Him.

 

For a moment, imagine you are one of the shepherds.  You’ve seen the angels and been rather afraid, and you’ve decided as a group to go down to Bethlehem to see the Child.  Off you go, with a certain amount of nervousness and excitement.  On the way, you’re discussing with the other shepherds what the Child is going to be like and what He will do when He grows up.  Then, you finally get there.  One of the other shepherds, perhaps one of the boldest in your group, introduces who you are to Mary and Joseph, and tells them all about the message of the angel, and how you all saw a great multitude of angels praising God about the birth of this Child.  Joseph thanks you all for coming to see Jesus, and then Mary gives each of you the chance to hold the Child.  When Mary places the baby Jesus in your arms, what is your response?

 

(pause)

 

Back to the present day, through this Mass we are celebrating now, we can still be with Jesus, Mary and Joseph together with the shepherds.  We can present Him our hearts.  As I pour the water into the wine at the offertory, that water represents our offering that we make to God.  Two thousand years ago, as Jesus grew in Mary’s womb, each meal she had nourished the unborn Jesus.  She probably did eat bread, and wine mixed with water.  Now, we take those very same things, and at the consecration of the Mass, they are changed once again into Jesus, present body, blood, soul and divinity on the altar.  Then in Holy Communion, we receive Jesus, so that He can fill our hearts with the warmth of His love.  We give ourselves to Him, and He gives Himself to us.

 

The mystery of Christmas is so rich and so deeply satisfying.  It touches our hearts in a way like nothing else.  Despite all attempts to snuff it out, the human heart needs Christmas.

 

So let’s be glad that in this country, the state, in a certain sense, recognises its place and lets us celebrate the birth of Christ.  I wish you a happy and holy Christmas and that the joy of Christmas overflows for you into the New Year and beyond.  May God bless you.

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