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December 24th & 25th Christmas Eve & Christmas

Tonight we join with Christians of all denominations in celebrating the extraordinary event, which happened over 2000 years ago – the entry of God himself into human history in the person of the Infant Jesus.

For a Christian there is tonight no tinsel, no glitter; there are no fairy lights – only the silence and peace of a stable in which a mother holds her child wrapped in swaddling clothes.

The child is God. Can you believe it? This child is God – a mystery of love. The mystery of a God who lowers himself to take on human nature so that he may live among us, and die for us. A Savior has been born for us. Only those who open their hearts and minds to this child, and accept him as their God can discover the true meaning of his presence among us.

God has come down to earth and he has given us a present – not possessions or money or health – but a Baby – a human baby who is also God! When a baby is born in a human family everything is changed. Two people in love are not a couple anymore they are parents, everything is different they try to be good for the baby, be a good examples for the baby, keep the baby in the center of their lives, they don’t use bad words anymore, they want to create good and healthy environment for the baby etc.

Newborn baby changes everything! New baby is born tonight is he going to change something in my life or everything is going to stay the same?

How could I improve to serve better with my life to the baby born tonight! If nothing will change what it says about me. Do I really want to welcome the newborn and change my life for better? Or maybe I don’t need this baby. I want to stay who I am and don’t want to change anything. Of course you and me we know it doesn’t work this way with a new baby.

 

Tonight, in our liturgy, we gaze at this child, our hymns sing of him, our readings speak of him and our Gospel rejoices at his birth.

And how simple the message of each of the chosen passages is.

The first reading tells us: ‘Rejoice, especially if you are in darkness for the light has come.’

The second reading tells us: ‘Salvation is now possible for all.’

The third reading tells us: ‘A Savior is born for us.’

The darkness, of course, is sin. This child has come to save us from the darkness of our sin. He is the Light, which chases away the darkness. In the vigil Mass a few hours ago we heard the angel explain to Joseph what this child had come to do. He told him: He is the one to save his people from their sins.

In a world where human solutions to humanity’s problems are proving every day more inadequate we need to open our lives once again to God’s plan for the world proposed in this infant lying in the manger. It is a plan centered on all that makes us noble and capable of peace – peace in our hearts and peace in the world. This child is the answer to our every question; he is the meaning of our lives.

In our crib lies a statue of the infant Jesus. Joseph and Mary are beside him, rapt in adoration. They adore God in their newborn child. And the infant has his arms outstretched.

You may think he is reaching for you and you are right. But first of all, before anything, his little arms are stretched out in praise and adoration of God his Father in heaven. Already he is instructing us, teaching us, and his message is: Do as I do; worship God!

The next thirty-three years of Jesus’ life could be described simply as a lesson in how to do that; how to worship God. But that is a story for later on.

Yes, the arms of the child in the crib are stretched out to you. He is there for you. He came for you. He loves you, and his love, if you let him, will give you life.

Friendship with Jesus gives meaning to our lives. It’s what we were created for. ‘To know him, love him, serve him … and to be happy with him forever.’

This relationship is not easy – it’s not a game. You can’t play at it at Christmas and Easter Time – it won’t work that way.

Friendship with Jesus is demanding, we have to work at it – it is a total commitment – you can’t turn it off and on. For a Catholic it means coming to the Eucharist every Sunday and celebrating with Jesus’ other friends. It means being ready to say sorry in the sacrament of Reconciliation when necessary. It means daily family prayer and good works.

It means to give your child an opportunity to come to know Jesus. To fulfill serious responsibility, which you took on when you asked for Baptism for your child.

One time I asked a mother of a teenage son why his son does not come to Religious Education anymore and he and his parents come only for Easter and Christmas for Mass. I was really taken by surprise when the mother answered: “You know father he is a teenager, he is thirteen years old, he does not want to come to Mass as often anymore he just does not want to come to RE!

Hm, I thought to myself; is he in charge of your bank account as well?, do you let him drive?, is he in charge of your household?, how about cooking?, if one day he will decide not do go to school anymore you would allow this to happen as well? How about if he wants to start an bonfire in your living room?!

I guess he is a teenager he knows what is best for him, and parents of course don’t have a choice he is the leader to fallow, they lost their faculties to be parents and became children. Let me tell you: This house is going downhill!

Our choices have consequences, consequences not limited to events in this life, but consequences with eternal implications. God has offered, we must respond. Everything depends upon the quality of our responses to God’s offer, the quality and content of our daily decisions.

God wants to be loved by you, and only you can love God just as you. No one else was ever you and no one that ever will be, can be just like you. You matter. God is born for you as baby Jesus. You are important in God’s eyes. You are the special object of God’s love. No one who understands that can ever say they don’t matter or that their lives don’t matter, or that they are not important. God made you to be loved only as you. You were in God’s heart before you were born and you are in God’s heart now.

To tell you that, to give you that message, God sent you His only-begotten Son, born of Mary to love you who were likewise born of your mother. Your birth was significant because Christ’s birth was significant. When you look at a picture or a sculpture of Mary holding her Son it should remind you of your mother holding you. There’s a message in that image, a message from God telling you about who you really are.

Jesus is not someone else’s baby – he is ours; we can’t hand him back – he claims us. We can’t pack him up in the cupboard after Christmas like the plaster baby in the crib.

Friendship with Jesus calls us to change our ways, our habits, our life; it calls us to be different from the world. It makes us grow on the inside and gives healing to our own wounded ness. Jesus makes us whole again. He gives life and peace – already here on earth but especially in heaven.

There is this funny commercial on the television; with a half human and a half motorcycle creature, you probably have seen it: a motor? not motor? Its pronounced “motor”! When the motor man: top man and the bottom motorcycle is asked by a biker if he ever thought about different life he answers “yes he did” he would like to be half man and half motorcycle but with legs at the bottom and motorcycle on the top, surprised by the answer biker say: “Oh, yeah I can see that!”

What he thinks and we know this from his facial expression that this answer does not make any sense to him, motorcycle has to have wheels of course, there is no motorcycle with legs. The whole idea of motorcycle are wheels.

Sometimes when I think about today’s Catholics I have the same facial expression and reaction. “Oh, yeah I can see that!”

If you think you are a Catholic if you don’t go to Mass every Sunday to receive communion and meet your God in it, if you don’t come to confession at least once a year, if you don’t talk to your God in prayer everyday, if you don’t bring your children to the Religious Education classes and you call yourself Catholic and even more you think you are going to be assumed to haven after you die, this is what comes to my mind:

This commercial and the words: “Oh, yeah I can see that!”

Good that tonight you are here, this is a good start but you can not stop here and be satisfied with it!

Let me tell you another story: “How many people attend your church?” one pastor asked another. “150 regular and and about 300 hundred C and E” “What’s C and E?” the first asked. “Christmas and Easter” “We call them Poinsettias and Lilies”

 

Each Mass is another Christmas. Each Mass is an opportunity for us to be the shepherds who heard the angels on high. Each one of us can follow in their footsteps and thus find Mary and her Son and receive the One she is offering us. How special is that?

At last we are celebrating Christmas in a church. The shopping malls have had their season of sales and the TV shows have given us their programs. Now we are with Joseph and Mary in a church where once again in a few moments God the Son will come to us… in Holy Communion.

Never say that you have nothing to give Him.

Never say that you are of no value, or that your life is a waste. God has gone to great lengths, infinite lengths, to come to you looking for your love.

You can give God no greater gift this Christmas than to give Him your love in return.

That’s where we can all truly say, ‘Merry Christmas!’

Christ Mass, there is no real Christmas without Christ and Mass as a part of Christmas celebration. All the  rest are just empty rituals!

 

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