The Nativity Is A Sign Of God’s Nearness, Even In An Imperfect World

Christmas Homily, 2017

Merry Christmas!

First, I wish to greet all who are joining us tonight either by radio or television.  I also wish to thank the families who came together to sponsor the broadcast of this year’s Midnight Mass. You know who you are!

To those here present, or those watching or listening from another place, especially if you are having a difficult time, know of God’s nearness.  A few days ago, Pope Francis said:

Even if there were no one else left to remember us, Jesus would always be there at our side.

Similarly, in an address to Bishops in Bogota, Columbia in September he had this to say:

Closeness and encounter are the means used by God, who in Christ has drawn near to us to continually meet us. The mystery of the Church is to be the same sacrament of this divine intimacy and the perennial place of this encounter.

The birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of a promise made by God to King David to establish a kingdom that would have no end.  Jesus, the Son of God comes to heal the wounds of sin and division, to cast down the mighty from their thrones, and to lift up the lowly.

Just as Jesus came into an imperfect world, he still enters the imperfection of our time, and the imperfection of our lives. All of this gives hope to us, who do not live perfect lives, who live in a world that knows too much division, indifference and violence.  The One through whom all things are created, found no place to welcome Him when at last He came.

Tonight, we open our lives to Jesus. We acknowledge our need for a Savior.  Tonight, we humbly and prayerfully ask the Blessed Mother to give Jesus to us.

The readings from the final days of Advent always recall the Christmas story, the accounts that led up to the birth of Jesus.  In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke we discover the grand design of God, who longs to capture our attention, our imaginations, our hearts and our lives – in short, our love.

In these Gospel accounts, there is a great interaction between heaven and earth.  The Angels, God’s messengers speak – to Joseph and Mary, to Zechariah, to shepherds and wise men.  The stars of heaven lead those wise enough to look to the heavens for guidance.  In the response to these divine encounters, Zechariah and Mary proclaim beautiful hymns of praise (the Benedictus and Magnificat) which are still daily recited by the Church each day. The angels sing glory and praise to the new born Son of God.

These hymns speak on behalf of all the earth and all its inhabitants as our response to the mysterious and wonderful ways God still speaks to us today.  Hearts and voices proclaim the goodness of the Lord and the great things that God has done for us.

As the lives of Mary and Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth, the shepherds and wise men were redirected because of their encounters with God and his messengers, so God is asking of us this Holy Night to recognize His presence in the birth of His Son; to redirect our lives as a result of a consequent conversion.

Every Eucharistic celebration, each nativity scene seeks to capture the significance of this Sacred Night, calling forth from the world’s inhabitants today a humble adoration of this newborn King.  Tonight, we are invited to open our hearts, our lives, our arms to a hopeful reception of Christ, to discover our own dignity and the dignity and sanctify of every other person.

For it is in Christ that

  • Heaven and earth are united
  • Divinity takes on human flesh
  • Light dawns in the midst of our darkness
  • Salvation subverts the power of sin
  • Hope displaces despair
  • Eyes are lifted and hearts are raised
  • Lethargic lives are renewed with a sense of purpose
  • Our Covenant with God is made New and Everlasting
  • Union with God and Neighbor are not only possible, but have become the great commandment

This Christmas, I ask our Dear Lord to visit you and your family with a renewed sense of His presence, warmth and love. I pray that each of you be given the grace to embrace Him on a deeper – personal level.

I ask through our Blessed Mother and St. Jospeh that each of you be able to humbly and generously cooperate with the desire and plan of God for your life.

Please also know of my nearness and love, but most especially of God’s love fore each of you, in Jesus Christ.

Peace, and Merry Christmas!

+pde

Arcbishop Etienne

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By Daniele Zedda • 18 February

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