Merry Christmas everyone! Please know of my prayers for all of you, your loved ones and friends. I pray this Christmas give each and all of us the grace to recognize and receive Christ into our lives and bring him and his peace into our world. May your Christmas Day and season be blessed and filled with peace!

Below is the video from Mass at St. James cathedral last night. The Gospel proclamation and homily begins around the 1 hour and 35 minute mark . The homily is below as well.

God bless all of you. Keep the faith and do not be afraid to give your own witness to Christ by your life. 

2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, on this night, nearly everyone was going about their usual lives. The City of David was bustling with all those who had come to enroll as ordered by Caesar Augustus. A Roman Senate – appointed monarch ruled the land – Herod the Great – and was viewed by the locals as an illegitimate ruler from a foreign land. While many of the Hebrew people were hoping and waiting for the promised Messiah, their lives were filled with disappointments and struggles of political and daily life.

Where years before a young shepherd boy named David was called from those very fields to be anointed King, this night, the King of Kings was born in similar obscurity, only to later be revealed as the Son of God, Prince of Peace, Wonder-Counselor, whose dominion is vast and forever peaceful. (Isaiah 9:1-6)

Today in Bethlehem, throughout Israel and especially in Gaza, even worse unrest reigns, as once again a war rages. Instead of people returning to homes, they are displaced as their homes are destroyed and thousands of family members and friends are dying.  Beyond the Holy Land, other wars also continue, in Ukraine and Myanmar and other places. Millions of people are fleeing their homes and homelands due to violence and climate change. Even in our own streets, the number of people who are homeless continues to grow, as does the violence and emotional unrest.

It is precisely into this world that Jesus Christ is born, The Word became flesh.  And our flesh is to proclaim this Word.

Most of us feel we are capable of and even desire to look life square in the eye, embracing the reality and all it holds – while still holding on to hope for a better future. What is it about the human person that is capable of such hope, if not faith? If not an openness to the Mystery that designed and created all of life; the heavens above and the earth and all within them?

Life is hard, as even a wide-eyed optimist would admit. And because of the many challenges we face, sometimes our dreams die and we are left with the hard work of discovering bigger dreams – in the midst of the reality of life.

Pain and Life have a way of breaking us open. And then, the humility of God, the littleness of God, enters into those ‘cracks’, and it is precisely ‘there’ that we discover the dream God has for us, which far surpasses our expectations – where our lost dreams give way to the bigger dream that is found in Christ.

Another part of that human mystery that is capable of hope in the face of hard reality is that wonderful experience of Love, especially God’s love for each one of us. And once our human love comes to know Divine Love in the person of Jesus, we also discover bigger dreams than our own.

So, the challenge is to live life with a clear focus on the bigger dream of Jesus. When our own dreams die, those lost dreams can become the lens through which we experience day-to-day life. And that life, as many of us have experienced, can only leave one unfulfilled, always asking ‘Why’ and tripping over and missing the many manifestations of the Love of God which accompany us each day.

Love multiplies – expands – never diminishes, especially God’s infinite love. In Jesus, justice and peace have met, love and truth kiss, mercy and reconciliation are offered over and over again. In each of these combinations, there is held a tension, as a part of God’s mysterious and gracious design. The life of faith in Christ is filled with many such tensions. The tension created by tectonic plates causes mountains to rise, and over time recreates the face of the earth. The tension of the Mystery of God at work in the human life is what causes love to overcome all obstacles, and allows us to experience for ourselves that with God, nothing is impossible!

Jesus was born in obscurity, but eventually was revealed as the promised Messiah and Savior of the world. May we have the grace this Christmas to recognize the obscure but very real way that Christ is present in our life and in our world.

Mary and Joseph proved capable of receiving God’s Word and embracing God’s will, which shattered their own dreams to bring forth God’s dream for all humanity. The shepherds were capable of hearing the message of the angels. Overcoming their fears, they embraced the Good News that was for all people. A savior is born who is Christ the King. No doubt upon finding and seeing the Christ Child they joined in the proclamation of the angels: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:1-14)

It is precisely into our world today that Jesus Christ is born; The Word became flesh.  And our flesh is to proclaim Christ as did Mary and Joseph and the shepherds. But we must first recognize him and receive him. So let us open wide the gates of our hearts, even if and especially when that opening begins as a crack in our hearts or dreams.

The King of glory enters. Who is this King of glory? He is Christ the Lord!

Merry Christmas everyone!