Homily for Christmas Eve (Year C)
December 24, 2018
4:30 PM – Holy Trinity, Tabor
10:00 PM – Sacred Heart, EGF
Readings from “Mass During the Night”
In the beginning, God said “Let there be light”
The light shone
We walked in the light – in friendship with God.
We had the fire of love in our hearts – love for God and for each other.
And then something happened…The original sin – we were plunged into the darkness – we had to leave the Garden of Eden, that place of light and life…
And darkness enveloped us…
the darkness of sin that separated us from God.
The weight of sin – the yoke of sin – we took upon our shoulders – a weight so heavy that it was sure to crush us.
And, already at that time,
God had a plan…
A plan to set things right
A plan to undo what had been done
A plan to restore what had been lost
A plan which the prophets spoke of throughout the ages
God had a plan to save us.
Tonight, in a stable in Bethlehem, this plan is fulfilled.
The fullness of time has come.
Tonight, God sends forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom us from the law.
Tonight, the grace of God appears, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires. The angel of the Lord appears to shepherds who are keeping watch over their flocks as the darkness of night surrounds them.
Tonight, the prophecy is fulfilled:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light! Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown!
Brothers and sisters, behold the significance of this night.
Tonight, God speaks his word again, he speaks again that same word that he spoke in the beginning: “Let there be light!”
God recreates his wounded creation. Time is reset to the year 0 because we have a new beginning.
“Let there be light!”
Let there be light to scatter the darkness of sin!
Let there be light to lead them along the path to salvation!
Tonight is indeed a momentous occasion.
Tonight, the yoke that burdened us has been smashed!
The weight of our sin has been removed!
The rod of our taskmaster has been smashed!
Our chains have been broken, and we have escaped. The shackles of sin can hold us no longer because tonight,
A child is born for us!
A son is given us!
Upon his shoulder dominion rests!
God, in his love for each of us, gives us not only a Son but HIS OWN SON.
My brothers and sisters, if you ever doubt that God could love you, look to the manger. Look to the manger and see what He gave for you. He gave the best gift he could give – he gave the gift of His Son.
And, in 33 years, he will exchange the wood of the crib for the wood of the cross. So great, so immense, is God’s love for you.
God, in his love for us, chooses to share in our humanity so that we can share in his divinity.
“He who clothes the whole world with its varied beauty, is wrapped up in common linen, that we might be able to receive the best robe.”
“He is confined to the narrow space of a manger – He whose seat is in the Heavens, so that He might give us ample room in the Heavenly Kingdom. He who is the Bread of Angels is laid in a manger, that He might feast us with the Bread of his flesh.”
How appropriate that this manger, this feeding trough, lies in Bethlehem – the town whose very name means “the House of Bread”.
Tonight, we like those shepherds, see the glory of God. We see the light shining in the darkness, and we follow the light.
We come to Bethlehem.
We come to the manger.
We come and bend the knee in adoration at a mystery so great – that God would take on our flesh to save us.
Every Sunday, we say the Creed. We make a profound bow at the words that speak of the mystery held out for us to adore tonight. We bow at the words “and by the Holy Spirit, was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”
Tonight, because this mystery is made present to us, we pause and genuflect at these words. As we do so tonight, I invite you to genuflect with not only your knees, but with your heart as well. Bring your heart to its knees and point it toward the manger as you join the shepherds in bending your knee in love and in worship of the newborn King.
“No one, whether shepherd or wise man, can approach God here below except by kneeling before the manger at Bethlehem and adoring him hidden in the weakness of a newborn child.”
“In the very act of reverencing the birth of our Savior, we are also celebrating our own new birth.”
How can it be otherwise? How can I kneel before a mystery of love so great and remain unchanged?
May I arise tonight as a new man or new woman. May my life, like His, be a total gift of self from this night onward.