Friday, 24 December 2021 : Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Eve (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, after a long time of preparation and expectation we have experienced and journeyed through in the season of Advent, we have finally arrived at the beginning of the Christmas season with this Christmas Vigil Mass. This night we gather together as one community and one Church in celebrating the moment of the great appearance of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the whole world, as He was born of His Mother Mary in Bethlehem, the city of David over two millennia ago.

This night we remember that most beautiful and wonderful night when light and hope are restored to all of us who have lived in a world filled with darkness and sin. That was the night when God’s long awaited salvation has finally come, the moment when God revealed before the people the extent of His most magnificent and enduring love, as He showed His love to us manifested in the flesh, in Christ Jesus, the Son of Man and Son of God alike, the Divine Word Incarnate, fully God and fully Man. Through Him, the love of God has been made concrete and manifest, and He became tangible, approachable and reachable to us.

The Lord reassured all of His people in our first reading tonight taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, as He told them of the coming of the time of renewal for Jerusalem and for the nation of God’s people. They would be renewed and enlightened, redeemed and made whole once again. These were significant words of hope, encouragement and love for a people who at that time had been troubled with the continuing downwards fortunes of their nation. For by the time of the prophet Isaiah, the old glory of Israel under King David and King Solomon were long gone, their kingdom divided and the northern half of which had been destroyed earlier on by the Assyrians.

For a people who were then beset with many troubles and worries, persecuted and oppressed by their neighbours, and for the faithful who remained true to their faith in God despite the evils and wickedness of even many among the people of God themselves who chose to abandon the Lord for the various pagan idols, those words spoken by the Lord must have been a great consolation and encouragement, a gift of new hope and light that God has always been with His people, and He will send to them His salvation, as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah, who also mentioned how the Saviour would be born of a Virgin, and the mention of the Builder marrying the metaphorical Jerusalem, representing the people of God.

It means that God would indeed come to dwell among His people, and He would come to deliver them from their troubles and sufferings. He would reveal to them the path to follow towards eternal life and true happiness through Him. All these happened as foretold as Mary, the one whom God had prepared to be the Mother of God and Saviour, wedded St. Joseph, the heir of King David. She also bore within her womb, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of God Most High. As such, the Saviour that was born that day in Bethlehem was truly the Heir of David, as prophesied by the prophets.

For St. Paul himself in our second reading, in the Acts of the Apostles, spoke of how God guided His people and how He had promised King David, His faithful servants that the Saviour of all would come from among His descendants. Thus, on that day in Bethlehem two millennia ago, what so many people had awaited for a very long time, awaiting for the salvation of God, had come to fruition at last. A people who had long laboured and waited in the darkness have seen a great light, the Light of God’s salvation and truth.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this Christmas season and begin our joyous Christmas celebrations, let us all continue to constantly ask ourselves, what is Christmas and its meaning to all of us? What is the significance of Christmas and how we are going to celebrate Christmas joyfully and with proper understanding and appreciation of what it is all about. Otherwise, it will be very easy for us to lose focus and end up celebrating Christmas with a lot of festivities and merrymaking, and yet, all those joy and celebrations were superficial and meaningless.

We all know how commercialised Christmas has become in the recent years and decades. Christmas has become so commercialised and secularised that many had mostly ignored its true meaning and purpose, and instead of celebrating Christ and His coming into our world, the Love of God made Man, we are celebrating our own vain desires and wishes for pleasures, comforts and worldly joy. Instead of remembering how much beloved we are by God and all that He has done for our sake and our salvation, we end up being distracted by the many temptations of worldly grandeur and pleasures.

What is Christmas, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the time for us to celebrate and remember the most wonderful love of God, given to us so generously and unconditionally. And having received that great and amazing love, it is then just right and proper for us to show the same love for our fellow brothers and sisters, to pass on the love that God has given us and to remind ourselves that we are truly fortunate to be so beloved by God and also by one another. This is how we should celebrate Christmas, with genuine love for God and for our fellow men, and not for our own vainglory.

Let us also remember that there are many of our brothers and sisters out there who may not be able to celebrate Christmas in the way we do. There are many out there who are unable to celebrate Christmas because they are not even free to express themselves and their Christian faith, and are persecuted daily for their faith. And there are also others who are too poor and marginalised to be able to celebrate Christmas in the manner that many of us are familiar with. Many of these brothers and sisters of ours are even struggling to make ends meet each day, and struggle to have enough food to sustain themselves everyday.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all make our Christmas celebration tonight and beyond a more meaningful one by refocusing our celebrations on Christ and not on ourselves. Let us all moderate our festivities and merrymaking and not forgetting all others who may not be so fortunate as us in being able to celebrate the Lord’s coming. And if we are able to, let us share our joy and love with those who have little or none, and bear to them, our own brethren, the light of God’s hope and the warmth of His love, that they all too may share in the true joy of Christmas together with us.

May the Lord, our God and Saviour, born and celebrated this Christmas day, be with us always and bless our Christmas celebrations, that they may be fruitful and wholesome. May God empower each and every one of us with His love and with the Hope that He has brought into our midst, that we may become the beacons of His light and hope in our daily lives and always. May all of us have a most blessed Christmas season ahead, Merry Christmas and God bless! Amen.

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