Liturgical Colour : Purple or Violet
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the Eve of Christmas, the day before the big celebration of our Church, commemorating the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ at Bethlehem in Judea, the very moment and a singular very important event in the history of the world when the Lord who is Divine, Almighty and ever powerful, would come into this world, as a Baby, laying down in a manger in a dirty and cramped stable fit only for animals.
Today as we end the season of Advent, the season of preparation for the coming of Christ, the feeling is indeed one of joy and jubilation, as reflected in the Scripture readings today. In the Gospel, Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist gave thanks to God for His providence and love for us, and for granting to him the grace of having John born of his wife, Elizabeth, at their very old age.
In the first reading we heard about king David of Israel who had finished most of his wars and conquests, and peace had settled over all the land, and he wanted to build a proper and worthy House for the Lord. But the Lord refused to allow him to do so, as it would fall to his son, Solomon, who would build the first Temple of God, the dwelling of the Lord among His people.
All of these readings have the same purpose, that is to declare for us the eventual coming of the Lord, who will come to claim all of His beloved ones. Thus while we are today at the very gate of Christmas to celebrate the moment when He came into the world the first time, in the Baby Jesus, this does not mean that we celebrate something that is relevant only in the past, as God will come again at the end of time as He had promised us. He went forward and ascended to heaven in order to prepare the place for us.
At this point, it is fitting for us to realise the true meaning of our celebration of Christmas as well. This love and desire by God to dwell among us and to embrace us as what He had done through Jesus, the Divine incarnate into Man, is well reflected by today’s readings too. It is all about Emmanuel, the name of the Saviour promised through the prophet Elijah. It means God is with us, and this is what we celebrate in Christmas, that is we celebrate God who loves us so much, that He was willing to assume our humanity and to dwell among us.
Christmas is indeed about Christ, as the name suggests, and it is about God’s Love made manifest through Christ. It is because of this same love, that even though we are sinners and have disobeyed God, and thus deserve punishment, condemnation and destruction, but God gave us another chance, and His love us so great that He is willing to forgive us and willing even to dwell among us, to be with us united perfectly in love.
The first reading talked about the House which king David proposed to make for the Lord, as it was not befitting for the Lord, so he thought, to live under a tent. But not even the Temple created by Solomon his son would actually be fit for the Lord, no matter how mighty and glamorous it is, as we can read in its detailed descriptions in the Book of Kings. That is because that Temple and the Temple that was rebuilt and existing during the time of Jesus, were of human origins, made by human hands, but God had designed another Temple, a place truly deserving and worthy of His Real Presence.
And what is this Temple? It is all of us, brethren, every single one of us, mankind whom God had made with His own hands and given even the very image of Himself as our image. We are the Temples of the Lord’s Presence, and the Lord who came into this world and which we celebrate in Christmas, is really about God coming into us and dwelling in us. That is the meaning of Emmanuel, God is with us.
But unfortunately, many of us if not most defiled ourselves with sin, the very reason why we have been separated from God’s love in the first place. Sin and wickedness corrupted us and defiled this Holy Temple that is our body and our beings. Remember that the Scriptures and our Lord exhorted us to keep holy this Temple and not to defile it by fornication, wickedness or any form of sins?
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we embrace Christmas and all of its joys and celebrations, let us not be distracted and lost our true purpose in celebrating this Christmas. Let us commit ourselves to change our sinful ways so that this Temple we have in ourselves will no longer be defiled, but will be worthy of the Lord present in each one of us. Remember that the Eucharist we receive regularly is His Real Presence, and thus He dwells in us even now.
May this Christmas be meaningful to us, so that we may truly be transformed into the loving and faithful children of our Lord, whose birth into this world we celebrate in this occasion. May Almighty God guide us and lead us into His love, and help us to resist all forms of temptations and all the lies of Satan designed to bring us into sin and damnation. Amen.
First Reading :
Gospel Reading :