CHRISTMAS HOMILY: The Challenge Before Us
The terrible problems that challenge the world this Christmas are not really a God problem, they are our problems. How do we respond?
At length, he came one night to a village called Bethlehem, and as there was no room in the local inn, he went outside the village in search of shelter for the night. At last he came to a cave and found that a couple and a child also occupied it. He was about to turn away when the young mother spoke, "Welcome Amazu, we've been waiting for you."
The boy, amazed that the woman knew his name, was even more amazed when she went on to say, "For a long time you have been searching the world over to find out what language God speaks. Well, now your journey is over. Tonight you can see with your own eyes the language God speaks. He speaks the language of love."
And so each Christmas we contemplate the mystery of our God who became man. He is born in silence, poverty, simplicity and purity in Bethlehem, the house of bread.
Our God made man later taking bread and wine transforms it into his body and blood; thus is the mystery of his Incarnation continued for us in the mystery of the Eucharist, God made real for us.
God becomes man. Bread and wine becomes God-man.
Each time we come to the Eucharist, we come to a new Bethlehem. He, who rested once in a manger, now rests in our entire being, as we receive him in the mystery of the Mass.
Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king who loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived, and he wanted particularly to know about their hardships. Often dressed in the clothes of a worker or a beggar, he visited the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited even thought he might be their ruler.
Once he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate, and he spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left.
Later when he visited the poor man again, he disclosed his identity saying, "I am your king!" Then the king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he did not.
Instead, he said, "You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!"
This is the true meaning of Christmas. The second person of the Blessed Trinity becomes incarnate. Jesus is true God and true man. He is one person with two natures, a divine nature and a human nature.
"For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man" (Roman Missal, 3rd edition, Profession of Faith).
Had our greatest need been knowledge, God would have sent us an educator. Had that greatest need been technology, God would have sent us a scientist. So too had our greatest need been for money, God would have sent us an economist. Had our greatest need been for pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer. But, because our greatest need was for redemption from sin, God sent us a Savior.
All of us are familiar with the character of Ebenezer Scrooge depicted in Charles Dickens famous novel, A Christmas Carol, or we have come to know of him through movies and television specials aired during the Christmas season.
Ebenezer Scrooge is completely self-absorbed. He is resentful of the demands made upon him by those who are poor and less fortunate.
Scrooge, a tragic figure indeed, is visited by three spirits: the spirit of Christmas past, the spirit of Christmas present and the spirit of Christmas future.
The dramatic journey elicits his repentance. He becomes aware of his past indifference and cruelty and is moved to be more generous and benevolent toward those he had been mistreating in the past.
Through a profound catharsis, Ebenezer Scrooge learned how to live for others and not only for himself. By breaking the circle of his ego, he had enabled the light of Christianity to invade his soul and change him into a new man filled with joy and hope.
We all have wonderful memories of how we have celebrated Christmas in the past. On this Christmas, we will relive those memories, create new ones, and cherish our fondest memories in the recesses of our hearts.
The joy and excitement of opening Christmas presents; sampling the delicious foods and deserts that our mothers and grandmothers had prepared; the decorating of the tree; the setting up of the manger scene; the singing of Christmas carols; and of course, ...
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