A Homily for Christmas
St Paul’s Parish, Gävle, Sweden.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace to men who enjoy his favour.” Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I greet you all in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the New Born King! There is no better way to express the joy I feel than to use the same words which the angels sang when the Saviour was born in Bethlehem. It is truly wise and fitting that we sing the song of praise which the angels sang and to receive with gratitude the peace of God which rests on those who enjoy God’s favour.

We celebrate with joy the Feast of the birth of Christ the hope of the world. The angels tell us, “Listen, I bring you news of great joy.” Most of the time the word “news” in the media is bad news. It is about wars or rumours of wars, about instances of human failure – murder, armed robbery, corruption among politicians and others, sex abuse, and other forms of scandal. But the news which the angels brought, the same news which I have for you as I speak is “news of great joy”.

Most of the events of our world are such that bring sadness and pain. But the single event that changed human history and human destiny - the Incarnation of the Son of God - is the reason for all of us to rejoice. Let everyone join in this celebration. Let no one hesitate to praise God for his goodness and mercy. Are you living a holy life? Thank God for the grace. And rejoice with us for Christ, the Love of God made flesh, the source of your holiness, is also the goal of your quest and the One who rewards you for your life of fidelity. Do you perhaps feel unworthy, fully aware of the evil you have done and the good you failed to do? All the more reason you should rejoice with us and celebrate for Christ the sinless Son of God came down from heaven precisely to “seek out and save that which was lost”(Luke 19:10).

There was no one found worthy. Indeed, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom 3: 23); we all inherited the sin of Adam and we all were sold as slaves to sin. But “when the appointed time came, God sent his Son born of a woman” (Gal 4: 4), born of the Virgin Mary so that all of us who, through the sin of Adam, have lost the original innocence and friendship of God may by the birth, death and resurrection of Christ, be restored to God’s friendship and made worthy to share the dignity of sons and daughters of God, with Christ. Are you bereaved or experiencing deep sorrow of some other kind? You, too, should rejoice with us. The one who, “in the beginning was the same as God … became man and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). And as a man among humans, he wept for his friend, Lazarus whom he also raised from the dead, thereby bringing great consolation to those who mourned and demonstrating that he is the resurrection and the life. BecauseChrist was born among us and for us, our destiny is eternal life devoid of sorrow and shame.

Are you experiencing poverty; do you feel that no one seems to take any notice of your suffering? Join in our celebration! Christ the Lord of heaven and earth was born, not in a palace, but in a manger because “there was no room in the inn” (Luke 2:7). He came into this world to teach us that “what we suffer in this world cannot be compared with the glory that waiting for us” (Rom. 8:18) andby his own example, to show us that “Blessed are you who are poor for the kingdom of God is yours” (Luke 6: 20). Are you displaced from your native land and you are now a refugee? Rejoice and be glad for the Saviour of all peopleswas himself a refugee in Egypt, forced to flee by night because Herod, who was afraid to lose his throne as king ordered him to be killed. He understands exactly how you feel and he is the true King who will come at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, including Herod.

The birth of Christ is the birth of hope, the beginning of a new life and the new humanity, the new people of God. While we sing the song of the angels, let us not sing only with our lips. Let us sing with our hearts and souls. Majority of the people who live in this town are not present at this Eucharistic celebration. They are so busy celebrating “Christmas” that they forget all about Christ. To them we have a clear duty. It is our duty as Christians to take the message of Christmas to them. For Christmas is not about food and drink but righteousness and joy in the Holy Spirit. But we do so first by our own example: by how we ourselves celebrate. While we eat and drink, let us do so moderately. “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy” (Cf. Rom 13: 13).

Let us all rejoice for our Saviour is born!

Merry Christmas!

© Fr Damian O. Eze, MSP, Gävle, Sweden 24-25 December 2009.

Posted: 2009-12-24 21:30 by P Damian
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