Here is my homily from Dec. 24/25, 2015, Christmas (Mass During the Night).
Click the play button above to listen to the audio, or scroll down for the text and for a video reflection based on this homily.
Also, you may read the Christmas homily from Fr. Charles Nweze (parochial vicar at Holy Spirit Parish) by clicking here. (PDF)
Readings: Isaiah 9.2-4,6-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2.11-14; Luke 2.1-16 ( See the readings at usccb.org)
Video reflection based on this homily:
One of my favourite photos of all time was taken 20 years ago, December of 1995. It was taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The geniuses over at NASA pointed the telescope at a small part of the night sky, to a spot where we see nothing with the naked eye. And they took a long exposure over two weeks. The result was incredible. It’s called the Deep Field Image, and it reveals a stunning array of galaxies and stars and colours and shapes. Almost 3000 distinct objects in an area of the sky where we don’t see anything with the naked eye! It’s one of the greatest photos I’ve ever seen.
The Deep Field Image gives us a glimpse of a universe that incomprehensibly vast, with details and wonders beyond what we can imagine. Now, when I reflect on that, and on the universe in general, I can’t help but think of the God in which all of this exists — the God of all the universe — and how he must be so incomprehensibly, infinitely vast and powerful.
Therefore, today should truly get our attention! Because today we’re celebrating the fact that this infinite God chose to be born as a human baby. The God of the universe become so small and so weak, that he can’t even hold up his own head. The God of heaven and earth needs diapers. The God who spoke the Word and light was created, is born as a human baby who can’t even talk.
Why? Why did the God of the universe do all this? Why did he become so vulnerable, so small, so delicate? Why Christmas?
Because God loves you and me. He loves his people. And when he saw that his people were diminished by sin; when he saw how we, as a race and as individuals, turned our backs on him, he set out on a rescue plan of love and mercy, and he came to where we are, and physically reaches down into human life. He’s born as one of us, and reaches into all of our joys and all of our messiness and our sinfulness and our sorrows. He came down here in order to lift us up to himself.
No wonder the angels appeared to the shepherds to proclaim a message of good news of great joy for all the people: because today in the city of David is born for you — A Saviour.
When it comes down to it, we all need a saviour. None of us is all we’re cracked up to be; none of us has a perfect life. In his first interview as Pope Francis defined himself as a sinner. And if he can do that, then surely I can do the same. Let’s not get overly sentimental about this. We need a Saviour. So, take heart! Today is good news! Born for you — Personally! By name! — born for you is the Saviour, the Christ, the God of all who became lowly in order to lift us high.
God is the Christmas gift, given in utter humility. But like any gift, it’s necessary for the gift to be properly received. A gift that remains wrapped up is not doing what it’s meant to do. God gives us the gift himself and eternal life.
For example, the staff here at the parish gave a great gift a few days ago: A Darth Vader toaster. They know me too well. It looks like Darth Vader and it puts the Star Wars logo on the toast. So of course I had toast for supper, and again for lunch… But can you imagine if I’d never opened the gift? I wouldn’t be able to put Star Wars on my toast! It’d be useless. The gift must be received if it’s going to do what it’s supposed to do.
During this Christmas season, let’s unwrap more of that incredible gift of Jesus Christ. He is infinite, and we can always go deeper in unpacking the mystery of his coming among us. One of the ways we unpack this gift is by prayer — regularly, both individually and as families. How’s our prayer life doing? If you’re anything like me, it can always get better. If you’d like to pray and don’t know where to start, keep it simple. Use those prayers we learned growing up. Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be. The psalms in Scripture. Or just talk to God; he loves to hear us.
Second, we unpack this gift more as we enter deeper into the sacraments of the Church. Jesus gave us tremendous grace in the sacraments; don’t refuse his gift. Baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, confession — God is truly present in the sacraments, in physical ways that we can hear and see and smell and touch and taste. He’s not distant, but he comes right here.
Third, we enter powerfully into the gift of God when we share his love and mercy with others. Again, God gave everything of himself to you and me. To receive his gift, we must give of ourselves to one another, each according to our state in life.
Above all, if you remember nothing else from tonight, God is here. God has become one of us so that we might share in his life forever. May that fill us with tremendous hope this Christmas.
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus, I believe that you are here now, in your Church, in your Word, and in your sacraments. You came in mercy to lift me up from my sins and to give me life forever. Help me to truly receive such a great gift. I welcome you into my heart once again. May I live always for you. Amen.