Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all rejoice together as after the long wait and expectation during the Advent season, we finally mark the beginning of the Christmas season, the time for us to celebrate in the glorious coming of Our Lord in the flesh, the Divine Word Incarnate, Son of God born into this world as the Son of Man through His mother, the Blessed ever Virgin Mary. He was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the city of David, as the fulfilment of the long awaited promise and assurance of God, Who has come to dwell among His people and to deliver them from their enslavement by the evil one and from the tyranny of sin and death.
In our first reading today, the Lord through His prophet Isaiah has spoken to the people, revealing how He would send them a Child, to be born of Man to them, in a great prophecy proclaiming the coming of God’s Saviour or Messiah. In that prophecy, God spoke of the coming of the time of salvation and liberation for His people, the Israelites, as He would gather them from among the nations and break the yoke of their oppressors and all of their enemies. He would send them a Child, the One prophesied to come, and His Name as proclaimed, would be Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
While the people of God back then could not have foreseen or known what these things truly meant, but to them it must have been strange for the words of the prophet Isaiah to have mentioned a Child born into this world and named such as Mighty God and Everlasting Father, for these were the titles that ought to be reserved to God alone. How could God descend and come down into this world as a Child, born of Man no less? How can the Almighty and Infinite God of the entire Universe and existence be contained in the Child or Son of Man?
Such is indeed the mystery of the Lord’s Incarnation, as He willingly came down to us, being Incarnate in His Aspect as the Son and the Word of God, incarnate in the flesh, willing into existence by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ the Son of Man, the Child born two millennia ago in Bethlehem of Judea, Who was truly Man, but also truly God at the same time, the Eternal God and King of us all. That Child born in Bethlehem is the King of all the whole entire Universe, Who has entered this world by His own will and by His enduring and amazing love for each and every one of us.
As St. Paul mentioned in our second reading today, in his Epistle to St. Titus, the Lord has given us all His grace and love through Jesus Christ, His Son born to us and which we celebrate this night at Christmas. He has entered our world, sharing with us our human nature and experiencing what we ourselves have experienced, so that we may be reconciled and reunited with Him, and this is all that the Lord had intended to do from the very beginning. Just as if we remember from the Book of Genesis, God said to Satan, the deceiver, that while he may have dominion over the sons and daughters of man, but through Woman, a reference to Mary, he would be conquered and defeated.
The Lord wants us to be reconciled to Him, but this will not happen unless we have been forgiven and cleansed from our sins. Sin is caused by our disobedience against God, and it sundered us off from Him, and as a result, we should have ended up falling into eternal damnation and suffering in hell. The Lord could very well have destroyed us from the very beginning, as creatures that had been defiled and corrupted by sin. But that was never His intention. His love for us is greater than His disgust for our sins and wickedness. To that extent, He committed Himself to us, by coming down to us, to be with us and to save all of us.
He Who is the Almighty Lord and King over all things willingly embraced our human nature to show us the way out of the darkness, reminding all of us of our true nature of being holy and perfect in God’s grace. This had been interrupted by the appearance of sin in our lives, and by the temptations that we face daily, and how we fell again and again to those temptations and ended up sinning against God. But God made Himself to be like us, to unite Himself to us and to act as a Bridge spanning the once uncrossable chasm that existed between us and God due to sin.
Christ is that Bridge, the One Who bears the Light of God’s grace and salvation into our midst. His coming into this world revealed to all of us just how beloved we are to the Lord, so much so that He was willing to make Himself small, to be born an Infant, a small little Child in Bethlehem just as we heard in the account of our Gospel passage today. He made Himself that little Child in Bethlehem, to show us what is meant for us to be beloved by God, and at the same time, also His desire to be loved by us. This Christmas is a great celebration of God’s most generous love for us, a love that overcomes sin and death.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we gather together in this celebration of the Christmas Midnight Mass, we are all called to reflect on the true nature of Christmas and why we rejoice so greatly and wonderfully not just tonight but also this entire Christmas season. The Lord has entered into the world and revealed to us His love in the tangible form of the little Baby Jesus in the manger, to be our Lord and King, gathering all of us to Himself. And in time, that same Child would also come to bear His Cross with the weight of our innumerable sins, which by His perfect obedience to His Father’s will and by His infinite love for us, He offered on our behalf the worthy sacrifice for the atonement of our sins.
That is why, it is sad that we have seen so many occasions in our Christmas preparations and celebrations, when Christ Himself has been sidelined and even forgotten as we have become accustomed to the more secularised way that Christmas has been celebrated. If we see all around us, in all the Christmas rejoicing and festivities, we rarely even see the Lord being part of any of the celebrations. Instead of the Child Jesus, we saw figures like Santa Claus, the elves and many other secular characters depicted throughout our Christmas parties and revelries.
It is like the birthday boy has been excluded and forgotten from his own birthday celebration, as Christmas rightfully is the celebration of our Lord’s Nativity or birth into this world. As we all know that in any birthdays, the most prominent person must be the person whose birthday we are celebrating, then the same should apply to Christmas as well. Have we prepared and celebrated our Christmas celebrations with Christ as the focus and the centre of our efforts? Have we placed Him at the heart of our merrymaking and rejoicing?
Or instead have we allowed the excesses of worldly pleasures, desires for satisfaction and even ego and pride to guide us in our Christmas celebrations? If we have done all these, then we really need to ask ourselves, what is Christmas and its meaning to all of us. We cannot treat Christmas just like any other holidays or festivities, and certainly it is not just a time for us to be merry and happy without knowing its true importance and reason. We rejoice especially because God has loved us so much, that as I mentioned earlier, He manifested His love to us in the Child Jesus.
God’s love made all of our rejoicing possible and we can rejoice because we know that through Christ, we have been assured the salvation and eternal life, and have been freed from the bondage and power of sin. Through our baptism we have been made sons and daughters of God Himself, through adoption by exactly Christ’s birth and incarnation in our human nature, as we all share with Him our humanity, and since He is the Son of God, we too therefore share with Him in becoming the adopted children of God, as members of His one Church, the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, if we have lapsed and failed to prepare ourselves to understand the true nature and meaning of Christmas, and if we have not prepared ourselves to celebrate Christmas worthily, then it is still not too late for us to do so. This night’s Scripture readings serve as important reminders for all of us that we have to make our Christmas celebrations and joy a truly meaningful one. Let us all not waste this opportunity and instead do whatever we can in order to bring the light of Christ into this world, and be the witnesses of His love present in our midst.
Let us share the joy we have and all the blessings and wonders that we have received from God, especially with our fellow brothers and sisters who are unable to celebrate Christmas, as well as to those who are encountering hardships and sorrow in life. Let us bear the true light and hope of Christmas to them, and share with them the wonders of God’s love. May God bless us always and may His Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, born and celebrated this Christmas day, guide us to the glory of everlasting life and grace. Wishing all of us here and everyone a most blessed Christmas! Amen.