Saturday, 24 December 2022 : 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 whole month of the season of Advent, tonight we have finally reached this day that we have been awaiting for so long, and that is the moment when we rejoice greatly at the celebration of the Lord’s birth, His Nativity and entry into this world. This night, we mark the Vigil of the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, and truly we can sing and praise the Lord in great joy, welcoming Him as He comes into our midst, and as we remember all the love which He has poured upon us. And as we enter into this most joyful Christmas season, we are called to remember why we rejoice in the first place. It is the coming of Christ, the Saviour which we are most happy about, as His coming fulfilled all the many promises and assurances of salvation, as He had made to us from the beginning of time.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, the words of assurance from God to His people Israel, to the people of the southern kingdom of Judah as He delivered it to those who have been downtrodden and troubled, all those who have suffered difficulties, hardships and destruction, humiliation at the hands of their enemies. Back then, the fortunes of God’s people, the Israelites have been at a very low point because they had faced a lot of opposition, and the entire northern half of the nation of the Israelites, named the northern kingdom of Israel, had been crushed and destroyed by the Assyrians, whose king led the forces to destroy Samaria, the capital of that kingdom, as well as exiling many of the people away from their ancestral homeland to distant lands, all because of their sins and wickedness.

The people of God had often rebelled and disobeyed against the Lord, refusing to listen to His words and reminders, persecuting and rejecting the prophets and messengers sent to them to remind them. They hardened their hearts to His words, and as such, they had to face the consequences of their wickedness and evils, and thus faced those great humiliations and punishments due to their sins. But it did not mean that God despised them, as the truth is that, God despised the sins that they have committed and not the people themselves. It was their persistence to remain in the state of sin, and their many sins which had led them to be punished and to face the consequences of their sins. But God never gave up on them, and He has always reached out to them again and again, nudging them to return to Him and to be reconciled with Him.

Hence, the Lord reminded His people in our first reading today that if only they repented from their sins, turned away from their wicked ways and came back to Him, that they would be glorious and blessed once again, and God would gladly bestow upon them what their ancestors had once enjoyed, the grace and favour, the glory and might among all the nations of the Earth. If only that they would listen to Him and embraced His ways once again, then they would be glorious and mighty again, as a people blessed by God, and as a nation united in the same Lord and King. The Lord has always been faithful to the Covenant that He has made with His people, and He has given them in the end, the ultimate form of His love, with the coming and appearing of Christ, His Son in our world.

In our second reading today, St. Paul in the Acts of the Apostles spoke courageously before the people regarding God’s salvation which He had extended to all of His people through time and time again, reaching out to them and fulfilling His promises to them, just as He raised up first Saul and then David to be King over His people, Israel, and then, just as He had promised David, in making his reign and the dominion of his house secure, He would fulfil all these through the coming of Jesus Christ, born of the House of David, as the long awaited Messiah or Saviour, having been born and entered into our history, so that by His coming into this world all of us can see all of the goodness of God and the love which He has always consistently showed us, right from the beginning.

The account of the birth of Jesus in our Gospel from St. Matthew also further highlighted this, as we heard of all the generations right from Adam to Jesus, through Abraham and David, the ancestors of the Saviour of all. The birth and coming of Jesus Christ into this world is therefore marking that pivotal moment when God finally made evident and perfect all that He has put into place from the very beginning. God has always loved us, and even when our first ancestors disobeyed Him and refused to follow His path, He did not will them to annihilation and destruction although He could have perfectly done so. He exiled them from the Gardens of Eden as a consequence of their sins, but He also promised them all the coming of His deliverance, through the Saviour He would send unto them.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in this great Solemnity of the Lord’s Nativity, celebrating His birth and coming into this world, let us all keep in mind of what He has done for us, and what we ourselves should be doing with our lives knowing of everything that He has given us out of love. The Lord has showed His love and taught us to do the same, so that everyone should be the bearers of His love and truth, doing His will and walking henceforth in His Presence, erasing the past humiliations due to our sins and wickedness. God has always showed us the path of righteousness, and through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, He showed us the perfect example of love, obedience and faith, essentially how all of us should act and behave as Christians.

Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, it is important that this Christmas should be a reminder to all of us in living our lives that we may seek to become better Christians, and that we do not just be like nominal Christians, having faith in name only. How we celebrate Christmas is one of the way that this is reflected. We can see just how pervasive and ubiquitous the secular and worldly Christmas celebrations all around us are, and how even many among us Christians, we celebrate Christmas in the same way, with great excesses in pleasures, merrymaking and rejoicing, but one that is empty because Christ is not at the centre of all of our rejoicing and celebrations. Christ has often been forgotten and ignored at the celebration of His own birthday, and that is truly something that is sad at Christmas every year.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore make good use of this time of Christmas to share the love of God which He has shown us to all of our fellow brethren, to all the people we meet and encounter, even to acquaintances and strangers. It is not a time to love ourselves and to immerse ourselves in our self-indulgence and excessive merrymaking. Instead, it should be a time for us to be more generous in the giving and sharing of our love and joy with others, especially with all those who are less fortunate and not capable of celebrating Christmas in the manner that we do. We should do our best to show others around us what Christmas truly means, and share whatever extra blessings and graces we have received, with those who have less or even none at all.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter into this Christmas season, let us all continue to make good use of the time and opportunity in order to deepen our relationship with God, and to immerse ourselves in the celebration of God’s love and compassion, to centre ourselves and focus on Christ as the reason why we rejoice throughout this glorious and most joyful season. Let us draw ever closer to the Lord and His love, and let us all be ever more exemplary in how we live our lives from now on, and also in how we share the love of God with one another. May God bless us in our every good efforts and endeavours, now and always, forevermore. Wishing all of us a most blessed and wonderful Christmas season for all of us and our loved ones. Amen.

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