Homily for 24 December 2021 by Fr. Joe Tedesco
Isaiah 9:1-6; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14
Merry Christmas everyone!
We celebrate Christmas with delight, with joy, with solemnity, with song, with gifts, year after year because Jesus’s birth is the way forward into God’s very life. God with us – Emmanuel. Jesus is God’s gracious gift to us so we give gifts because Christmas is the gift of all gifts. God himself as one of us.
The Incarnation of the Lord is the key event in the life of very Christian. Incarnation is everything. Christ is with us and in us. After all – we are the body of Christ on earth. Our spiritual journey is all about becoming Christ, living Christ. Being another Christ for others.
Living with his values, his attitudes, being obedient to all He taught us. So, our task is to give birth to Christ in our world.
The teaching of the Vatican Council taught us so profoundly that the life of Christ is our life. That Christ is the focus of all we do, so his presence among us is paramount to our understanding of our place in the Church and from which must flow our decisions in every circumstance. The question is: How do I bring Christ to life here, in this moment?
So, we pray as a Church three times a day the Angelus Prayer – that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We say this prayer to make the day: Morning, noon and night. To remember to become the word made flesh. To remember this most unique of gifts from God. And to let this mystery of God made flesh enter into our very spirit so we are able to return the gift – to be one with God in Christ. To give God the ultimate praise and worship – the oneness of our life in God’s life. Because Christ is always here, in us and with us. It’s the heart journey that over powers us and transforms us so that we can become Christ in the world .
So, this truth of the Incarnation is always happening, and informs all aspects of our life. Why we do what we do, why we believe what we believe, what we understand of God and God’s desire for us, why the Son was born of Mary, why we celebrate Christmas with such intensity. Why it means so much to us.
We see it in the powerful moments it means to families and the rituals of families at Christmas that become so meaningful to each member. One thing that is very interesting about Christmas is, so many couples get engaged on Christmas. As a pastor, I would ask couples at Christmas eve masses “who got engaged tonight” – always several would stand up. Because it is such a special night. The life-giving moment to proclaim – I love you.
Incarnation is the gift of life. So, the Son of God comes to us as this new born babe, the one way all the world celebrates new life, with such preciousness, such awe. Every birth is a miracle happening before our eyes.
Think about what captivates you at the birth of a child. That baby takes your heart, restores our hope. Especially if the child is yours or is a grandchild. I remember being with my twin brother with his first grandchild, who was only a few days old. He was a different person, so taken, there was love and joy in him in a way I never saw before. He turned to me and said, “I just love that little guy.”
That’s what happened to all of humanity at the birth of God’s Son. God is saying, “I just love them. “ You and me. And that experience is happening now in our lives. God is saying that tonight to us again, as we hold on to the reality of Jesus being born into our lives.
Jesus‘ birth offers hope, love, our future with God, a life of holiness by living his life.
Ultimately, eternal salvation comes from his life. The very life of God with us in Jesus of Nazareth born in Bethlehem.
Our celebration, our joy invites us to consider how do we live with this precious gift God has given us? We now are part of God’s very life by God’s identification with our humanity. Jesus born as one of us. So now we can know how to be one with God, to be our true self , to touch our true and full identity as part of the divine life. Here’s the root of our happiness and fulfillment. To finally and really, wholeheartedly, come to know our dignity and uniqueness: look at Jesus and know who you are. How much we need to go right there. To take a good long look – this really is our Spiritual journey – it changes us this knowing Jesus so deeply; it transforms us.
Then we can bask in the love and light even for a little while on Christmas as we celebrate with family and all those we love, to feel the bonds of life that make a difference and somehow touch the fact, the truth, that we are one with God in Jesus. He was born tonight so long ago but born in us again and again, every time we can raise our hearts in prayer and thought to Him and acknowledge the truth that we belong to Jesus and need him in our life. We do this in order to make life work in the best and deepest way.
The Gospel message of love one another as I have loved you – begins to make sense. We are the family of God, called to be for one another, part of one another.
Paul’s letter to Titus begins to have deeper meaning now: The grace of God has appeared, saving all, and training us to reject godless ways, and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devotedly in this age as we await the blessed hope , the appearance of the glory of our great God and our savior Jesus Christ.
What we hear in Titus is the motive that empowers us to be transformed into Christ as we await the fulfillment of mystery of the Incarnation. It truly is a holy night because of what God has done for us and is doing in us now.
Let us give thanks, recognize the gift God has given us and respond with our life and love to God. And to one another. My brothers and sisters, we surely can say –
Praised be Jesus Christ, this Christmas night and forever! Merry Christmas!