Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day - homily

I remember celebrating Christmas as a little boy with my parents, older sister and brother. I remember many good times…a lot of fun, joy, and happiness. I remember a bunch of sports presents – I was kind of a sports nut growing up (and still am) – and the newest, latest toys and gizmos. I remember getting Atari one year – remember Atari? That was way back! I also remember seeing my parents in a different light. I realized at Christmas as a little boy that my parents are…people! They are actually human beings who are cool and normal. Quite a realization!

My parents were good to us all year. They were good and loving. They were strict but each of us knew that our parents loved us. But, at Christmas, I saw them differently, especially my Dad. He would get into celebrating Christmas Eve so much with his side of the family. And then, on Christmas Day, he was…well, cool. I have to admit that it was through the gifts he gave me that I realized, he really loves me! He was into the things I was into – like Atari. He was cool and normal…a real person. So, at Christmas, my Dad became a human being!

At Christmas, God became a human being for all of us! This is not just a new way for us to perceive God as it was for me with my parents growing up. This is a new event in and of itself: God became a human being. St John gives a beautiful and deep description of this in today’s Gospel. He refers to Christ as the Word of God: “in the beginning was the Word”. From all eternity, God has been. “And the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. Think of how big God is and that He is eternal. And, then, He becomes a little baby in a manger. God sends His Son into the world as a gift. It is through His gift that we all see that God loves us!

This baby would grow up and tell us who God is. The Son would reveal God as Father (“Abba”)…God is our loving Father! God loves each of us and sent His Son to reveal that to us. This is one of the primary reasons why Christ was born. Yes, He was sent to bring Grace into the world – the Grace that we need to have life and to have eternal life. Yes, He was sent to save us from our sins (and to forgive our sins). But, one of the main reasons of Christ’s birth is to reveal who God is to us. As today’s readings indicate, Christ reveals God as Father who loves us.

We have little or no problem seeing the love of Christ. We believe that Christ loves us because Christ is Love. Christ is the perfect reflection of the Father; he is the “very imprint of his being”. When we see Christ, we see the Father. Christ reveals to us that God is Father who loves us. If we think about how much God loves us, we can think about our fathers on earth. As much as our earthly fathers love us, their love is only finite. Our heavenly Father’s love is infinite. There is no end to the love God has for us.

Finally, whenever we come to Mass, we have an experience of the Word becoming flesh. Every day is like Christmas in the Catholic Church because we have Mass every day. At every Mass, Christ is born on the altar. The Word becomes flesh under the signs of bread and wine and dwells among us. Then, He dwells in us at Holy Communion! What gifts God gives us! Pope Benedict reminds us that God is love and His love demands a response. The best response we can give is our hearts. The best gift we can give God at Christmas is our love…our hearts…our lives. He calls us into a deep, intense relationship of love with Him and with others.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A day late version - "GW Before Christmas".

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through streets,
not a person was texting or checking their tweets.
The dorm rooms were empty and finals were done,
and GW students were at home having fun.
The priests were all comfy and ready for bed,
with visions of a "'Skin win" dancing 'round in their heads.
Fr. Greg, he prefers a beret to a cap,
so he donned it and welcomed a long needed nap.
At 25th and Pennsylvania there arose such a clatter,
that strangers went running to see what was the matter.
To St. Stephen, Martyr church they went in a flash,
running as if it was a 50 yard dash.
Their finding, it stunned them, they stood still in awe,
and tried to make sense of the infant they saw.
A manger provided shelter to a new life,
that offered hope and salvation to a world filled with strife.
He grew to a young man and spoke without fear,
while the audience passed judgment that was final and severe.
Moving slower than a turtle his followers still came,
He taught them and preached and He called them by name.
"Now, Peter! Now Andrew! Now James and Bartholomew!
On Simon! On Philip! On Thomas and Matthew!
To the people called lepers! To the poor and down trodden!
Now move along! Move along! These people are not rotten!
They simply do not know of my teachings and beliefs,
and they don't understand that my love gives relief."
So on to the villages the twelve they did walk,
spreading His word more through actions than talk.
And with each rising sun His following grew,
for the healing He promised turned out to be true.
His offer of Heaven and happiness a bound,
took the hearts of the wayward and turned them around.
Dressed in nothing but virtue from His head to His feet,
Jesus knew that His life would not end in defeat.
Two pieces of wood he carried on his back,
walking and falling while surrounded by flak.
His cheeks they were sunken, his mouth parched and dry,
His love remained shining like a star in the sky.
The Pharisees told Pilate what the deceiver once said,
"After three days He promised He would rise from the dead."
The Spirit did appear in the great upper room,
where disciples were sitting, some riddled with gloom.
Thomas had his doubts; a second coming seemed surreal,
so Christ showed his wounds for Thomas to feel.
Now Thomas no longer questioned Christ's special ways,
for Jesus was alive and still is every day!
The disciples often taught that, "He's right by our side,"
And followed with a reminder to let go of our pride.
The sun will announce that a new day begins,
so let us pause for a moment and acknowledge our sins.
Jesus freely forgives while He does all His work,
shaping us slowly to be less of a jerk.
So the next time you're down and life is not clear,
be quiet and be still and you'll find He is near.
My thoughts are now finished and I need to move on,
besides that my creativity is now totally gone!
I part with the hope that you'll keep Him in sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."