Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the glorious and joyful Christmas Day, the day we have been awaiting for throughout the previous season of Advent, and what we have been hopefully preparing for well, all these while. Today as we rejoice together with the whole entire Universal Church, we are all again reminded of what and why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. What is it that we are celebrating in Christmas, brother and sisters? It is the joyful celebration of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and hence is why we call it as Christmas in the first place. And why do we celebrate it then? It is because we rejoice at the coming of Our Lord and Saviour, through Whom all of us have seen the salvation and glory of God, made manifest through His Son.
In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, we heard of the Lord’s proclamation of joy and salvation for His people Israel, in which God proclaimed to them that He would restore the glory of His people and erase from them the shame of their forebears. Back then, the people of God had been suffering humiliations and sufferings one after another as they encountered various hardships and challenges, all of which were caused by their lack of faith and trust in God. Their disobedience and wickedness led to them being punished for their wrongdoings. But God did not despise them, as He still cared for them and loved them despite their constant disobedience and lack of faith. He showed them His love by sending them His salvation in the person of Jesus Christ, His own only begotten Son.
It is this same Jesus Christ mentioned in the beginning of the Gospel of St. John at our Gospel passage today, which in the past used to be the Last Gospel read at the end of every celebration of the Holy Mass, except on certain occasions. This reading being read on the Christmas Day must have been strange for some as unlike the other Gospel readings of the Christmas Masses, this one does not specifically mention about Jesus Christ and the account on His birth. Yet, if we read on more carefully, this Gospel passage is in fact a very important one as it highlighted to us the very importance and significance of why we even celebrate Christmas in the first place. If Christmas has been about the birth of just any other man, or any other persons, then it would not have the same significance or meaning to us.
Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, if Christmas is about any other man, just a mere prophet or ordinary man, then His birth would have been just like any other men, with no special significance unless to those who knew Him well like His family and friends. On the other hand, it was what St. John the Apostle mentioned in his Gospel passage that indicated to us and also reminded us that, the One Whom we celebrate at this Christmas festivities and joy, is none other than God Himself, Incarnate in the flesh, entering into our world and existence as Man, the Divine Word Incarnate, the Word that was made Flesh, the Son of God and Son of Man. The One born over two millennia ago in Bethlehem in Judea is indeed the Saviour promised by God, and not just that, but God Himself has come to our midst to dwell among us and to be with us always.
He is no longer distant and intangible for us. He is no longer the God of the Old Testament that seems to be far and mighty beyond any of us human beings to approach. Instead, He showed us all that His love has made us to be the sharers of His most generous love and kindness, as He reached out to us and come to touch us and our lives, to bring us our of the darkness and into the light. God has always wanted us to be reconciled to Him, and to forgive us our sins when we desire to commit ourselves to the path of righteousness and be forgiven from our many faults. Yet, it is often that we do not have enough faith in Him, and we end up continuing to disobey Him, and walking down the path of sin, that lead us more often than not to our downfall.
God has taken up our human existence and our human nature, by the Incarnation of the Divine Word, His own Word that has proclaimed the creation of the whole world because through this act of perfect love and self-giving, God may reunite us all to Himself. God has reached our to us by sending His own Son to help lead us to Himself, and to gather us all as our Shepherd, so that all of us the lost sheep of the Lord’s flock may be gathered all once again, and become God’s flock once more, reunited and reconciled with Him. He also sent us His herald, St. John the Baptist, to be the one to prepare His way for Him, that more and more people may come to be saved. This task has then on be passed through to the Church, and hence, the Church today still has the obligation to care for those who have been lost from God, to follow in the example of Christ our Lord, by Whose love we have been saved and seen the salvation of God.
In coming into this world, the Lord has done what others may think to be irrational and impossible. Even many of the people of God at the time of the Lord’s coming refused to believe in Him and this truth, and some accused Him of blasphemy when He revealed later on before them, how He was truly the Son of God and Son of Man both. It might seem irrational because throughout history, mankind had always aspired to be great and to be like God, with dictators and those who sought glory and power desiring others to honour, respect and even worship them. And many people sought to become like God, to be invincible and mighty, and to be free from their limitations, without avail, throughout the history of the world, from desiring to live longer and to extend their lives, to gain more power and might, and to become indeed like God, which they all could not do.
There is then only one God and One Who willingly embraced us and willingly humbled and lowered Himself, that He was made sharer of our human existence, that God Himself might come and dwell with us, and to be by our side. Again these might have seemed impossible for some, and as mentioned, some did doubt the Lord and refused to believe in Him. Yet, because God is Almighty and All-Powerful, surely something like that is within God’s power to do? We simply think that just because God is great and Almighty that He will definitely not want to lower and humble Himself in this manner, and yet, that was exactly what God had chosen to do, and all of that was because of His continued and persistent love for each one of us. He did all of these for our sake, and that is what Christmas is all about and why we rejoice because of that.
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 as our loving Shepherd and Guide, 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.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we enter into this glorious and joyful season of Christmas, are we willing and ready to commit ourselves anew to the Lord, Our God and Saviour? We are reminded this Christmas of the great Love of God made Man, and because He has made Himself approachable and His most generous love tangible and within our reach, all of us no longer wallow and suffer in the darkness and sin. We are reminded that God is and has always been with us, no matter whenever it is, and regardless of the highs and lows in our lives. The love of God personified and manifested in Christ is what we are celebrating this time and season of Christmas, and it is what we all need to focus and put emphasis on during this time of grace.
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 and shown. We can see just how easily we access the mostly secularised and hedonistic 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.
Many of us spent our Christmas busy in trying to outdo one another in celebrating our Christmas with parties and gift-exchanges, trying to have more of the celebratory moods and the feasting, focused primarily on indulging ourselves on the various goods and worldly excesses of the usual Christmas festivities. Many of us treat Christmas as a time of holiday and rejoicing, to gather back with our families and friends, and exchange various stories and experiences over good food and drink. Yet, again, we often ignored the Lord and did not leave Him any place in our hearts and minds, and leaving Him out of our Christmas rejoicing and merrymaking. It is not wrong to celebrate Christmas with great feasting and merrymaking, but we must not let those to distract us from the true meaning and purpose of Christmas.
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, in becoming one like us and in dwelling with us, Incarnate in the flesh, by reaching out with love 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 return our focus and attention, and all of our Christmas celebrations and joy 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.