Homily of 25th December 2018, Christmas Dawn
Isaiah 62,11-12; Psalm 96; Titus 3,4-7; Luke 2,5-20
It’s Christmas. Aside from one’s own birthday, this is probably a child’s most awaited day for it is a day of receiving gifts. The joy of receiving toys and gadgets is compounded as one discovers more of their features. A little girl may get all the more excited to see that her doll can blink, or a boy to see that his little green car can run!
The joy of welcoming Christ at Christmas should likewise exponentially multiply as we grow in faith and realize what Jesus came for. The shepherds were amazed to see the child Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem just as they were told by the angels. In a manger, a feeding trough for animals: Yes, the Lord came to feed us. In Bethlehem, the ‘house of bread’: Yes, the Lord is the bread of life that nourishes us. The infant Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes. His first clothes were the last piece of clothing that wraps the dead for burial. Yes, at birth, there was already a indication that the Lord was to die for us so we may not succumb to eternal death.
I do not know if you noticed in the giant wreath that hangs by the library tower that by the manger, there is a shepherd’s staff. (If you haven’t seen it, you must take a closer look.) Jamie Nelson’s design for this year ties up with the Creche Festival theme of the “flock of sheep.” All the sheep of unimaginable creative designs along the trail of the outdoor exhibit are heeding the call of the true shepherd who was just born in the manger.
How do we keep the spirit of Christmas, the growing excitement, the growing discoveries and realizations of who and what Jesus really means to us? Mary points the way. Hearing the stories of how the shepherds were alerted by the angels, she kept everything in her heart, pondering, reflecting, exponentially compounding her initial yes to God’s will until she finds herself at the foot the Cross of her beloved Son.
Now, as we celebrate Christmas, we come to this ‘Liturgical House of Bread’ to be nourished with the Bread of Life. For the One who is food for us and the One who died for us is the One who is born for us so that we may live, so that we may be reborn into everlasting life. Today we praise God for this most incredible mystery, for the most incredible of all His gifts, for a baby, for Love Incarnate, for Jesus Christ – born for us so we may be well nourished, so that our sins may be forgiven and so that we may live forever.
Fr Gerard Jonas, OCSO