A Christmas Homily

A Christmas Homily December 24, 2017


During those few days that it got cold a few week ago, I sat for some time facing the Atlantic Ocean at Tybee Island during a frigid, windy morning.  My ears were filled with the crackling of dry plants on the dunes behind me, the crashing of those beautiful white-topped waves and the gentle howling of the wind.  It was very cold.

The rising sun shined over the water creating a beautiful path joining the shore to the horizon.  Nothing stood in the way between me and that horizon, except perhaps a cargo ship that quickly moved towards the river.  The horizon stretched out in a perfect line, marking the limits of my own vision, marking the spot where I could no longer see.   Everything that lay beyond the horizon remained a mystery.

In the horizon two untouchables touch: the ocean and the sky.  An abyss closes in.  Two extremes, two opposites, unite in one perfect line.  How can it be that earth and sky touch and then invite me, (draw me), into that mystery, with the shining path of the sun over the water?

As a seemingly unbridgeable abyss unites in the horizon, the Church rejoices today on Christmas that Jesus has closed the abyss between God and humanity.  Jesus Christ is the horizon where humanity and divinity unite.  His two natures, human and divine, undergo no confusion, no change, no division, and no separation.  As in the horizon, in Jesus Christ two untouchables touch: the human and the divine.  Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, God with us, and He raises our humanity to the divine.

This mystery of the incarnation is an earth-shattering event to which none of us can remain indifferent.  It is the moment of history which the prophets foretold.  It is the moment of history where the divine intersects the natural: God and man intersect in Jesus Christ.

The good news we celebrate today is that our God, the creator of the heavens and the earth, has become one like us in all things but sin.  God has come to reveal himself to us, to tell us about Himself and to bring us salvation, the forgiveness of our sins.  God has come to the Earth and has shown us his glory, he has conquered death so that we may have eternal life. He has conquered the darkness so we many live in the light forever.

How do we live differently because God has become one like us? Such an earth-shattering event should affect and inform everything we do. Do we give Jesus what is due to Him as God? Do we find time for prayer?  Do we come to Church as we are here today to remember his redeeming work by dying and rising from the dead? Do we treat others with love and respect recognizing the presence of God in them?  In many ways, each human person is a horizon, a mystery where humanity and divinity unite.

Just as Jesus came humbly and quietly to a stable 2000 years ago in Bethlehem, and almost nobody noticed, He comes to us today at this Mass humbly and quietly in the Eucharist. God continues to come to us, not just at Christmas but all the time, he continues to seek us throughout our lives and we are invited to have a profound encounter with Him here at Mass.

As the shepherds came to adore Him at the stable, offering their love and care, Come let us Adore Him here at the altar, it is Christ the Lord.


Celebrating Christmas Mass two years ago in November at the Cave of the Nativity, Bethlehem


Top picture taken from public domain, others are mine, all rights reserved.  Bethlehem, 2015.

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