The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
There are many ways of expressing one’s affection to the people we love. We can do it by sending a letter or by a telegram or by sending text messaging or by flowers and chocolates. We can express it by calling the person through telephone. The ideal, of course, is to go personally and tell the person, “I love you.”
Pearl S. Buck, a Nobel Peace Prize winner in literature, who is best remembered for her vivid novel of China, wrote a beautiful story titled Christmas Day In The Morning. It tells of a boy named Paul who is always called by his father at four o’clock in the morning to help with the milking. Once Paul over hears his father telling his mother: “Mary, I hate to call Paul in the mornings. He’s growing so fast and he needs his sleep. If you could see how he sleeps when I go in to wake him up I wish I could manage alone. Paul is stirred by his father’s words. He realizes that his father loves him, has always loved him! There and then he tells himself that he will be brisk in answering his father’s call. One day, Paul decides to give his father a gift. On Christmas morning, he gets up earlier than four o’clock, goes to the barn and gets the milking done. Then he goes back to bed. When his father calls him, he says he will follow. But he waits on his bed for his father to come back. When his father enters Paul’s room, he has a queer laugh.” Thought you’d fool me, did you?” ”It’s for Christmas, Dad,” he replies. His father gives him a big hug: Son, I thank you. Nobody ever did a nicer thing…” Later, at breakfast, his father tells Paul after sharing what he has done with his mother and the other children: “The best Christmas gift I ever had and I’ll remember it, son, every year on Christmas morning, so long as I live.”
Today is Christmas and we remember the best gift that we ever received. It is the gift of love from God. He sends His only Son Jesus Christ to the world as our Savior and Lord. Sacred Scripture which is the love letter of God to each one of us, has it: “God so loves the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life,” (John 3:16). It is also the gift of the Son who chooses to make His dwelling among us and to become like us that we may become like Him.
Christmas, which is literally meant as Christ’s Mass is nothing less than God wanting to be with us. Our Church finds this day so important that she gives us three Masses: at midnight, at dawn and at daytime and each with its own readings. For midnight and dawn the gospel readings are from Luke’s familiar telling of the Christmas story. For this daytime Mass we have the opening of John’s first gospel, his ‘prologue’ which tells us about the coming of the Almighty God into our world. The cold and comfortless cave of Bethlehem was where the Eternal Word stepped into human history and becomes a member of our human race. This shows us how great the love of God to each one of us is.
Today, we are offering this Mass as a thanksgiving for that great love of God and also for the many blessings that we receive during this year. I’m hoping that during this Christmas that we celebrate, we are celebrating this together with the celebrant who is Jesus. Let us make it sure that Jesus Christ is very much present. It is because sometimes we celebrate Christmas without Christ. According to Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD that if we remove CHRIST from Christmas and we end up with MAS – Many Are Sad.
You know, in my own observation, we are celebrating Christmas sometimes for two reasons: one is for money. Christmas, nowadays, is being commercialized. Many have profited out of this celebration. Christmas is just expenses, shopping, parties, vacation and happy holidays. The other reason is for the show. We never go on with the other two reasons: to get ready and to go.
Secondly Christmas day is a holiday. There is no work in public and private offices. Originally, the meaning of holiday is holy day. Let us make it sure that on Christmas day, it will become really a holy day by reaching out to God concretely through attending Masses and by sharing our love and blessings especially the poor and the needy, ‘til it hurts…
So at the end of this homily, Let us exhort each other dear friends to make ourselves Christians and children of God not just for money or just for the show. We are called to be Christians and children of God, ready to sacrifice and ready to go.