Homily – Christmas Eve

Homily Ė Christmas Eve Mass

Two thousand years ago a couple wandered from Inn to Inn in a small town looking for a place to give birth to a Son. They were in a foreign town and the night was late and she was close to term. The best they could find was a small cave or manger used to stable animals. It was here that Mary would give birth to her Son who would be the King of Kings. Not just any king but the God of the universe himself. He humbled himself to take on human flesh and then he chose the lowest place among them. He was born in a dark, damp and dirty stable and wrapped in swaddling clothes.
Why would he go through all of that? The answer lies in our Gospel today. ďShe will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.Ē Jesus the Christ, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, our Messiah, our Savior was born to be our Salvation.
Salvation is something we are all looking for. We want to be saved from a meaningless and wretched existence. People look for it in many places and seek their salvation through many things: sex, money, drugs, fame, power, relationships. All of the searches end ultimately in frustration because we are made for God alone. Our happiness can only be found in a relationship with God. He is the only one that can fill that hole in the deepest part of ourselves. Until that hole is filled with God then we will be incomplete, uneasy and not at peace. This is what prompted St. Augustine to confess to the Lord ďMy heart is restless until it rests in you.Ē If we choose to live without God in our lives then the best thing we can hope for is to keep ourselves distracted from the pain and restlessness. All these things: sex, money, drugs, etc are just that. They are distractions and not our salvation. As scripture says there is only one name under heaven and earth through which salvation comes and that name is Jesus the Christ: For he will save his people from their sins.
That is the Messiah that people were expecting for so long a period. They were watching and waiting for their salvation to come. When at last it did many missed it. Many denied that Christ was their savior. Why? Mostly because he wasnít what they expected. What they were looking for and where they were looking were the wrong things and the wrong places. They were expecting a warrior king and a conquering hero. They were looking in royal palaces. They did not expect a poor boy born in a stable. They did not expect one who would be so humble and so little. They did not expect to see one who would speak of love of their enemies. They had other ideas and for that reason they missed him.
We too can miss him in our lives if we are not careful. We too could be looking for the wrong person, the wrong thing or in the wrong place. Our salvation comes to us in unexpected places and often times is overlooked. We are too busy, or donít have time to see him. We donít look into the little places in our lives. The damp, dark, plain and ordinary places. Often times people wonít look for him at all until they are in the deepest sorts of trouble. When their whole world comes crumbling around them then they cry out. They feel like God has abandoned them. No he is there, but you must know how to recognize him. If you are not practiced and have not developed the skill of seeing Jesus in your everyday life and situations then it will be very difficult to see him. But the blindness is ours not his. We must learn to see and to seek our salvation every day. We must let Christ into our lives, every day. Not just on holidays. Not just in our most desperate moments. Not just when we think we need him. We need him every day. He is there waiting. He wants to save us. He wants to be our salvation. He wants to shoulder our burdens. He wants to die for our sins. He wants to come into our lives if we would only let him.
We have clear proof in our first reading. We are Godís diadems and he delights in us. He will not quit on us or give up on us. He will not be quiet until our vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch. God never quits on us, we just quit on him. God is faithful for all generations and all generation are important to him.
Do you have a hard time believing this? Do you have a hard time believing that God actually wants to use you as a part of his plan of salvation? Could you have really been made for a purpose? Then answer is clear in the Gospel. We hear the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Most people groan when they hear this part. Most will skip over it when they read the scriptures. God does not waste words though and these are the inspired word of God. What does it tell us. Every name we hear is proof of Godís promise even when we might have forgotten or might not see the importance. For at the end of this line of names is the birth of our savior. Every person in that line had a part to play. How many actually knew that they would be part of Godís plan in the world. How many were aware that their descendant would be the guardian and adopted Father of the Messiah. How many of Maryís relatives knew that one of their descendants would be the Son of God.
God is present and working in all generations. We might not see him if we are only looking for Christmas. We need to look in our everyday lives. We need to find Christ in the humble places. Not the places of our choosing, but the places of his choosing. Not when we want, but when he wants. Not in the ways we want, but in the ways he wants. And he wants to save us from all those other things, but he can do so only if we open our hearts to him and let him.
If we do, then we also become an important part of salvation. We donít settle for being just another name, in just another book. We accept our part in Godís divine plan and we live it. Not just one day a year but with our entire lives. And a life given to God is a life worth living. A life lived for ourselves isnít a life at all.
I would like to encourage you that every time you see a nativity scene to look at the infant in the crib and remember that God loved us so much he would become a man to save us from our sins. He would be born in a manger because for many of us that is what our hearts are like: dirty, damp and dark. He would give himself to everyone and in the end be rejected by many and put to death. All this was known before hand and he still became man to save us from our sins. He can only do that if we let him be the lord of our lives. Not part of our life, but all of it. Not just one day a year, but every day of the year. Not just in some places of our life where it is convenient for us, but in all places of our life. Jesus is the Lord of all or not at all.
Everyone here today is here because in some way this is important to you. Maybe some are here only to keep peace in the family. If that is so then I hope you donít leave that way. But for most of us it is because we acknowledge that Jesus was God and we should celebrate his birth.
God is God without our consent. He doesnít need us to be God. Donít just acknowledge the existence God in your lives but also let him be your savoir. Let him save you from your sins. You can only do that by allowing him into your life and your homes. Open wide the doors to the Inns of your hearts. Will he knock at the door of your heart and find the light of welcome burning brightly? Or will he find there is no room for him there. I hope that isnít the case. Ultimately though I canít decide for you. You must choose to have him as Lord or to look for him at your convenience. The choice is yours. Choose well.


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