Sunday, 25 December 2016 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Day (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this moment has finally come, the time we have been waiting for during the season of Advent. For today we celebrate the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the moment when our Lord Jesus Christ, our God and King was born unto us in Bethlehem, in the city of David through His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This is a day full of joy, not because of the celebrations and festivities themselves, but rather because of what happened on this day two millennia ago, all of us can rejoice with an understanding that darkness and destruction will no longer be our fate, but instead the new path filled with hope towards salvation and eternal life in God. And Jesus made all of that possible because of His entry into this world, and later on, because of what He had done in His life.

And the Scripture readings for Christmas made it all clear to us, Who He is, Why He came into the world, and what He was going to do in order to bring His salvation upon us. And understanding all these is very important for us as Christians, as otherwise, when others ask us the simple question, what is the significance of Christmas, we will not be able to answer them and we indeed should feel very ashamed in that situation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, what is it that made us all very special compared to all the other beliefs and religions around the world? What is it that made it to be the one and only true Faith? That is because what we believe is not just a myth or a belief founded upon things that are unreal and imaginary, but on things that are factual and there had been many witnesses testifying to the events of what have formed our Faith to be as what we know it today.

And ultimately, that is because our God has done what many others would think to be impossible and demeaning, that is for God to become Man, meaning that He would lower Himself to become one of us mankind, to become one of His own creatures even though He is the All Powerful and Almighty Creator of the whole universe. Imagine a great king humbling himself to act like one of his servants, and not just any servants, but as the lowest of his slaves.

And many would think that this is something strange that God had done, but essentially, that is what our faith is about, that we all believe in the one and only True God, Who loves each and every one of us so much so that He was willing to go through all those ordeals for our sake. It was what St. John wrote in his Gospel, that as Jesus said to Nicodemus, that God so loved the world, that is us all mankind, that He sent us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into the world, so that through Him we will not perish but instead have life.

It is only in our faith alone that God, our Lord Jesus Christ has willingly come down upon us, to be one like us and taking up the form of our flesh and to share in our human nature that He has become the Son of Man just as He is the Son of God. In the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel, what was usually known as the Last Gospel said at the ending of each Mass, lies the very essence of this belief in the Incarnation of the Divine Word.

For the Divine Word of God, Equal and Part of God, as one of the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all part of one and only true God, has been incarnated into the flesh of Man, by the will of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. This very act is an act of tremendous love, that He was willing to lay down everything for our sake, out of His love for us.

St. Paul in his letter to the Church and the faithful in Rome spoke about how very few people will want to die for another person, more so if the person is a bad person. A good person might have merited such things, but sinners and delinquents would normally be shunned and not be considered worthy to have someone to lay down his or her life for his or her sake.

And yet, that was what Christ precisely had done. He came into the world as a King, but not as a proud and boastful King. Instead, He came as a servant King, Who led by example and lived humbly, and did all He can to save His beloved people from certain destruction because of their sins. And He did so by laying down His own life, that by His death on the cross, He may unite us to Himself that we share in His death, dying to our own sins, and be resurrected in glory as He Himself had risen from the dead.

That is why when we celebrate Christmas, there are three very important things that we have to take note of. First of all, is the meaning of Christmas itself. What are we celebrating in Christmas? Is it our holiday season and our travels or trips around the world? Is it our merrymaking and the plans for our holidays? Or is it the gifts we are about to give and which we are also about to receive?

Christmas is about Christ, and we should not forget about Him as we celebrate. He ought to be the centre of our joy and our celebrations, for without Him and His coming into the world, there can be no hope or joy for us. It is because of Him that we now have the chance to be joyful and to be happy, because in Him is our hope, and He has shown us the salvation that He brought upon us.

And secondly, then, we have to understand that Christmas itself is not complete and is meaningless without Easter and the celebrations of the Passion of our Lord preceding it. They are both intimately intertwined together, and one cannot exist without the other. Without Christmas, there is no God Who have become Man, and therefore there can be no crucifixion and the Passion of our Lord, and therefore, no resurrection and thus no hope for us.

But without Easter, then Christmas will be like celebrating any other birthdays, and there would be nothing special and no remarkable event in Christmas. It would be just celebrating the birthday of someone and nothing more. It is what we celebrate during the Holy Week and Easter that made everything we rejoice about in Christmas to come to its full realisation, because we are celebrating our God Who first willingly became Man for our sake, revealed to us His love, and then finally willingly died on the cross for us, that all of us who believe in Him, shared in His death and resurrection may be saved through Him.

And last of all, remember that Christ came into this world, despite being the King of kings and Master of the whole universe, but He came humbly born into a family of a carpenter, and all the inns of Bethlehem were full, and no one had the space to welcome Him. He was rejected and ignored, and only a dirty stable fit for animals was available for Him. This is our Lord, Whose love for us have given us salvation and hope, born into a small, dirty stable.

All of these are reminders for us that we rejoice this Christmas not because of ourselves, but truly it is because of Christ. It is because of Him that we have received the hope of everlasting life, and freedom from all the bonds of sin that had enslaved us since the days of our forefathers. And we cannot be so merry and happy that we forget about our brethren who lack the joy we have, those who are hungry, poor and without the means to even live comfortably, and less still to celebrate.

Yet, there are many people who still celebrate Christmas as best as they could despite their circumstances. Some had to celebrate in secret, fearing persecution by those who are opposed to the faith in places where being a Christian equals a death sentence or great suffering. Some others have no money, or no food on their table, but they shared whatever they had, and still tried to be joyful on this special occasion in memory of our Lord’s birth into the world.

Let us all, therefore, brethren, as Christians challenge ourselves to celebrate Christmas as it should be celebrated, not with excessive and expensive merry-making, but use it to spend our time with our loved ones, and pray together to the Lord, thanking Him for the love He has shown us in Jesus, and remembering our less fortunate brethren around us. Whatever good graces and blessings God had given us, let us all share with those who have little or none, that our joy may be complete.

May the Lord bless us all and our families, and may He continue to guide us, that in this Christmas season, we may grow ever closer to Him, and be more charitable and loving to one another, remembering that it is Christ’s love which has brought us from the brink of destruction into life anew, blessed by Him. May God bless us all. Amen.

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