Sunday, 25 December 2022 : Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, Christmas Midnight Mass (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this night we celebrate greatly in the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, marking the glorious occasion of the birthday of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. On this night, after the whole entire month of the season of Advent, that we spent preparing ourselves to welcome the Lord, we finally have arrived at this moment when we rejoice wholeheartedly in great rejoicing and festivities, as we enter into this season and time of joy. Tonight, we truly sing from our hearts and minds, with the Angels of God and the innumerable saints, ‘Gloria in Excelsis Deo!’, glory to God in the highest, praising Him for all that He has done for us, as He entered this world, becoming a Child for us, born and revealing to us the fullness of His love and ever enduring kindness.

In our first reading today, we heard from the Book of the prophet Isaiah about the proclamation of the coming of the salvation from God, as Light has come from God to the people who have lived in the darkness, to illuminate their lives and their paths, restoring unto them their hope and strength. That prophecy also mentioned the time of liberation and freedom, as the light and salvation of God was revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, the Holy Child born in Bethlehem in Judea, the city of David just as the prophets had spoken about for a long time. That prophecy is a direct reference to the Saviour Whom God would send into the world, and He has indeed come in the person of Jesus Christ, the Holy Child born of His mother Mary, the Virgin who has given birth to a Son, that is none other than God Himself, Incarnate in the flesh, Emmanuel, God Who is with His people.

That is why we heard the very peculiar titles that the prophet Isaiah mentioned regarding this Holy One born to save all the people of God. His titles are ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Truly peculiar and interesting is it not? On a hindsight, people back then at the time of the prophet Isaiah and even at the time of the Lord’s birth would not have realised that it is none other than God Himself, willingly coming down to be with us, to dwell in our midst, although the hints and predictions had been aplenty. It was because until the Lord Himself revealed it all, they would not have realised the truth, and they would not have known the truth. But all of us today who have heard and received the fullness of truth, truly know Who it is that came that day more than two millennia ago, the birthday of Our Lord and Saviour.

After all, how can He not be the Divine Word Incarnate, if we heard the prophet himself saying about this One and this Child as Mighty God and Everlasting Father? How can the prophet referred to any man alive or coming in the future as God, if it is truly not God Himself coming to our midst in the flesh? He is the one and only Father and Creator of all, and this same One Who has created us all out of His perfect love, is the One born on Christmas, and Whom we are celebrating today and this entire glorious and joyful season of Christmas, remembering how His love for us led to Him coming to us in order to save us from impending destruction and damnation. He wants us all to be reconciled to Him, and because of all of that love, and the desire to save us, He has come into our midst, humbling Himself as a small, little Child.

God made Himself small and vulnerable as a Child, and as a Man like us so that through Him, and His sharing of our human nature and existence, He may bring unto us the perfection of love and obedience, showing us what it truly means to be a disciple and follower of the Lord. Christ could have come as a conquering King and Mighty One, just as many believed or thought that He would have, but He chose to come to us in this way, because He wants to be the Mediator between us and our Heavenly Father, God in Heaven, becoming the Bridge through His Cross, suffering, death and resurrection, that bring us back to the Father, and reestablish the Covenant between Him and us, which had once been broken by our disobedience and sins. He became Man so that by uniting our human nature to Himself, we may see and receive the fullness of redemption and glory, together with Him.

In our Gospel passage today, we heard of the account of the birth of Our Lord according to St. Luke, which I am sure we are all familiar about, telling us how St. Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem in Judea according to the census order of the Roman Emperor Augustus. That became the fulfilment of the prophecies of the prophets, as by Divine plan and will, the Saviour would indeed be born in the city of David, and through St. Joseph and his legal marriage to Mary, the Mother of God, Jesus Christ was born the Son and Heir of David, in the city of Bethlehem that day, more than two millennia ago. But what we also should take note is how, when the heavily pregnant Mary and St. Joseph came to Bethlehem, all the inns and accommodations there were full, and there was no place for them at all, so that they had to settle for a stable outside of the town, a place not even fit for human dwelling.

It was there that the Saviour of the world was born, not in palace made with the finest stones and adorned with gold, but amongst animals and shepherds, and Whose coming was announced to those same shepherds, with the bright Star of Bethlehem resting upon His birthplace, guiding the Three Magi or Wise Men to Him. The Lord loves each one of us so much that He became One like us, making Himself tangible and approachable by us, embracing our humble human existence and life, so that by His appearance and coming into our midst, He may show us the light of His hope and salvation, as something that is within our reach and something that we can approach without fear, reminding us of the great and ever enduring love that He has always had for us. God has never left us alone, and He has always desired that we find our way back to Him, calling us to return through His Son.

Yet, many of us have yet to acknowledge that call, and just as Mary and St. Joseph had difficulty finding any place in Bethlehem, how about us? Have we welcomed the Lord into our hearts and minds when He comes to us? Or have we been like those innkeepers and other accommodation places in Bethlehem that turned the Lord, His mother and foster father away, just because there was no place in them? Let us all look into our lives and our way of believing in God all these while, and especially also in how we are going to celebrate Christmas, not just today but for the entire season, and even beyond that. Are we so full of worldly things and preoccupations that we have no place at all for the Lord in our hearts and minds? And is the Lord even the focus and the reason why we celebrate Christmas?

Too often we can see all around us that Christmas celebrations have been centred not on Christ but on other things, and we see how people seek pleasures, joyful celebrations, merrymaking, parties and all kinds of activities that made them filled with revelry and joy, and yet, Christ was noticeably absent from all of the celebrations. That is unfortunately what happened in how Christmas is celebrated all around the world. Not only that but even among us Christians, have we been truly celebrating Christmas because we understand its significance and importance to us, or have we celebrated Christmas because we seek all of its festivities and joy, for our own selfish desires and wants? Have we celebrated Christmas not remembering Christ and all that He has done for us, because of His love for us?

Let us all therefore rediscover the true meaning of Christmas and do our best to return the Lord to the very focus and heart of all of our celebrations if we have not yet done so. If we have allowed our many temptations and distractions, worldly glamour and secularised Christmas focus to distract us from the true meaning of Christmas, let us now then return to the Lord once again and make Christmas once against about Christ. Christmas is also a time when we should imitate and follow in the loving example of Our Lord, in how He has loved all of us so dearly, that we too may love our fellow brothers and sisters, loving all those whom we encounter in life, our families and relatives, our friends and acquaintances, and even all those stranger we meet in our daily lives. It is also a time for us to share our joy and love, especially with those who are not as fortunate as us, in not being able to celebrate Christmas the way we could, and those who are bereft of hope and joy this season.

May all of us have a great and most blessed Christmas season, and may each one of us grow ever stronger in our faith and love for God, remembering all the love which He has shown us. Let us all reach out to one another and remind ourselves not to be distracted by worldly excesses, but instead, be inspired by God’s great love for us through Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, that we too may be filled with His love and grace, and be the bearers of the true spirit and meaning of Christmas. May all of us be the beacons of God’s light, hope and truth in the world today, in whatever we do, and may God bless us all in our every good works and endeavours, now and always. Blessed Christmas everyone! Amen.

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