Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the great day of great joy! The day when the Lord came into this world, assuming the form of a humble Man, born in a manger, to be the Saviour of the world, through whom this world would be delivered from its afflictions of sin and death. A Royal Child had been born for us and His Name is Jesus, the Emmanuel, which means God is with us.
Today is the culmination of the four weeks of preparation which we have begun since the first Sunday of Advent, and in this period of time, we have done our preparation for the coming of Christ, to rejoice greatly in His entry into the world. He is God, the Divine Word through which God willed the world and all of creations into being, but He did not hesitate to descend down upon us and assume our earthly identity as a Man, born of the Virgin, His mother Mary.
And in this, Christ is the culmination and perfect fulfillment of all the prophecies which prophets and messengers of God throughout the ages had prophesied about Him. They all talked of the day when the Lord would come and save His people, Israel, and this Saviour is none other than the Lord, just as king David and many prophets saw, the One who is to come to bring salvation to the world. He was also to be born of the House of David, as the Heir of David, the fulfillment of yet another of God’s promise, that He made to David, ‘Your descendants will sit on your throne forever.’
St. John the Evangelist spoke of Him in the Gospel he wrote, that He is Word, and He is eternal with God, not created but begotten from the Father, as One of the Holy Trinity, perfectly united to each other through love. And it is so wonderful that He has decided to come to us, to dwell among us and to be present among us, as the Lord who cares and loves for His people. He would not want them to be lost to the darkness.
The prophet Isaiah mentioned how a people in the darkness had seen a great Light. This Light is the Christ our Saviour, who brought His Light to lighten our path. We mankind have lived long in the darkness, caused by our sin and disobedience against God. We have for long lost our way and do not know where we ought to go in life, ever since we detached ourselves from the Lord’s guidance.
Disobedience of men against God brought us from the lives lived in full trust of the Lord, into a life filled with selfish desires and the desires to preserve ourselves, to gain more for ourselves, in possessions, wealth, for more worldly fame and praise, and to trust more in ourselves rather than to put our trust in the Lord. Temptations after temptations come our way, and we tend to lose our path, as we follow the false leads of temptation, greed, desire and many others.
We have deserved damnation and death for the paths of sin we had taken in life. But our Lord who loves us very much is willing to give us another chance, to change our ways and to be reoriented in our lives, so that while once we followed our own human desires, now we should trust rather in the Light which Christ had brought into the world, for He is the True Light that dispels all forms of lies and tricks that Satan and the evil one had brought unto us.
If I would give an analogy, the coming of Christ into the world is like ships being lost in the darkness of the sea, with no land in sight, and with dangerous rocks and waves threatening to sink the ships. We are the ships that travel through that sea filled with storms and rocks, which represent the challenges and temptations that we face in this life. Then, the coming of the Lord is like a great Light, which disperses the darkness, and gives hope to all those in the ship, because as all sailors knew, a light is a sign for land, like the light of a lighthouse.
That light shows the path the ships should take, to avoid the rocks and dangers that are scattered throughout the sea, that is our life journey. And this light to us, the Light of salvation, is our Lord Jesus Christ, born to us in Bethlehem on this day, over two millennia ago, as the manifestation of God’s desire to bring us back to Himself, and to bring a new hope of life to us.
To this extent, God who does not wish us to be lost to Him, chose to assume the humility of a servant, born as a Man, and not just any man. He is King of all kings, the Lord of all lords, and the Master of all the universe, and yet, this King was born in a manger within a stable suitable only for animals and not for human use. His Kingship is not one of power and greed, as the kingdoms and nations of this world are, but one that is based on love.
He laid down His life for us, by dying on the cross, so that through His death, we may be free from our sins and our sins He bore with Him as He climbed that hill of Calvary, out of that same love. By His obedience to the Father He had brought us from our state of sin and darkness into the new light of hope.
And why do we ponder this on this day of great joy? That is because Christmas cannot be separated from the Passion of the Lord, His death and resurrection, or otherwise, Christmas will be meaningless. Christmas is part of that grand celebration of God’s love, through which He made Himself Man, that He might carry out to perfection what the Lord had intended for us, that is to be liberated from our slavery and bondage to sin, and to bring us back to Himself.
His care and concern for us is great, and He is a true King who cares for all of His people. He did not come into this world to boast of Himself, His power or His might, but He came to serve His people with love, teaching them the way how they ought to live their lives that they may avoid those that bring about harm to them. Remember what I have just told you about the light of the lighthouse and the ship lost in the darkness?
The light of Christ is that light, and His teachings are the light that leads the people, the ships, to Himself, avoiding the dangers and the darkness that threaten to destroy us and harm us. He offers us this freely, and if only that we would follow Him, then we are sure to be safe and protected from any harm that may threaten us. Not the kind of threat that harms our body, but instead those threats that can harm our eternal soul, such as sin.
If we look at the story of Christmas, we can see clearly how most of us have the attitudes that do not allow us to welcome Christ into our lives. He has offered us salvation and grace in Him, but are we willing to accept Him and all that He offered us? The temptations and allures of this world, of many kinds of possessions, material goods, even sexual vices and pleasures of the flesh surely seem more enticing to us than to follow Christ and His ways.
Mary and Joseph were not able to find any place in any of the inns and houses of Bethlehem, and therefore they had no choice but to find a stable instead. No one has a place available for the Lord, whose coming was imminent then. Mary was about to give birth, and all those inns lost out on the opportunity to be the place where the Lord and Saviour was to be born, and instead, a humble stable and the animals became the witness of the Good News that had come to its full truth and fulfillment with the birth of Jesus.
Therefore, let us ask ourselves. Have we opened the door wide for Christ when He comes to us, or did we instead close the door in front of Him or did not even bother to open it to Him? If the latter is the case, more often than not, we are too full of ourselves, so that we are unable to open our heart to Christ. It is in our nature to think first about ourselves, our pride and selfishness, our desire for more goods and things of this world.
Thus, this Christmas, let us all realise that God wants to be with us, and He wants to come into our lives, and when He knocks at the door, do not let Him pass us by because we are too full of ourselves and therefore unable to accept Him into us. Let us all be humble and lower ourselves, sinners as we are, and yet God is willing to forgive us and accept us back into His loving embrace.
But we have one last thing to consider. The Lord who was born as a Child, Emmanuel, which means God is with us, is not just a symbolic meaning, but it is truly real. God is truly with us, and He is with us still, within us who are faithful to Him, and who have been accepted as the members of His Church. We believe in His Real Presence in the Eucharist, and whenever we receive the Most Holy Eucharist, God Himself came into us and dwell within us.
Therefore, even as we rejoice in this great celebration of Christmas, let us also be aware that all of us are the dwellings of the Lord Most High God, Jesus Christ our King. Yes, the very same One who was born in a manger on this Christmas day. He had dwelled in us and will never leave us, ever since He gave Himself up as a worthy sacrifice for our sins, giving us His Body and Blood, His very Presence and Essence for us, that all of us who have share in Him, will never fall and die, but will enjoy the fruits of eternal life.
Nonetheless, we have to heed what St. Paul had written in his letter to the Corinthians, when he reminded them about them, the faithful, as the Temple of God, the places where the Lord Himself resides in. We are the Temple and the House of God, and God dwells in us. Therefore, it is only fitting that this Temple be kept pure and holy at all times, and thus, this Christmas, let us all be renewed with a new resolve in our lives, so that we will be ever more faithful disciples of the Lord, appreciating and accepting His love, and practicing what He had taught us, in our own actions in life.
The Lord will one day come again, and this Christmas should be a season to celebrate and rejoice the love of God, but also for self-introspection and rediscovery of our faith. Do not wait until it is too late, lest we be caught unready and unprepared. Do not be like the inns and the houses of Bethlehem which were full, and were not able to receive the Lord into their places, and thus we should not close ourselves or isolate ourselves from the love of God made evident and real through Jesus.
May the joy of Christmas be with us all, not the false joy of parties and drunken revelries, not in the shopping and the goods, not in the bright lights and decorations, but the true Joy of knowing and having the Love of God made manifest and dwelling among us, through Jesus Christ our Lord, the Royal Child born on this day in Bethlehem, over two millennia ago, the proof of God’s love for us. May He find us ready and alert when He comes again, all of us filled with the true joy of Christmas and sharing the love He had given us, with one another. God bless us all. Amen.
Merry Christmas! Buon Natale! May the peace and love of Christ be with all of us!
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