A Christmas Homily
“And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us –“ (John 1:14)
Today, Christmas Day, is a day of peace, joy and hope. For today we again celebrate the greatest expression of God’s infinite love for us: God, the Creator of the Universe becoming man to dwell with us in a visible form on this earth for a time so that we can dwell with Him in glory forever in heaven.
We are all familiar with the story of the first Christmas, when Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem and delivered the Baby Jesus in a humble cave or stable and put Him in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. This is a figure of the Eucharist where Christ would give Himself as food for our souls.
Why God has done that is a mystery and therefore hard for us to understand. He could have accomplished our salvation by just willing it. But why He had to do this by becoming one of us is something that we cannot really fathom with our limited minds.
John the Evangelist answers this for us in the oft-cited biblical verse “John 3:16”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
And so the Word has come in the Flesh.
The Incarnation is where heaven and earth met. It was the event where man first encountered God in the Flesh.
There is a silent prayer of the priest or deacon at the offertory at Mass as he pours wine in the chalice and then puts a drop or two of water, saying “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.” According to a Church Father the wine is identified with Christ and the water is identified with man and their commingling is a symbol of the faithful's union with Christ.
This in simple terms is the true meaning of the Incarnation, or Christmas: God the Son coming to share our human nature so that we his creatures can share in His divinity.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": And again: "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God. And yet again: “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”
When we receive the Eucharist in Holy Communion, we are receiving not only a piece of bread and a sip of wine, but the very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus, who is God, is present there in our bodies and souls, we can say that we share in His divinity.
In a very real way, receiving the Eucharist makes us Christ bearers, like Mary bore Jesus in her womb. As Mary brought forth Jesus into the world to save the world, the effect of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is that He must be born in us, and through our lives, we must also bring Him forth to others.
If the Lord Himself is dwelling in us, how can we not act in ways that are pleasing to Him?
What this means is that in the way we live our lives day by day, in our interaction with others, people should be able to see Christ in us.
If we are aware of Christ dwelling in us we cannot but be kind and charitable to others
If we are aware of Christ dwelling in us we cannot but avoid talking behind people’s back, thereby ruining their reputation. It is called gossip.
If we are aware of Christ dwelling in us we cannot but take care of our bodies and our souls, including avoiding drugs, because we are temples of the Holy Spirit
If we are aware of Christ dwelling in us we cannot but be always ready to forgive those who have wronged us. We know that many family members and friends do not talk to each other, bearing grudges and unwilling to forgive even for years. Remember that Jesus was born and died for them also.
If we are aware of Christ dwelling in us we cannot but prove it in specific ways through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, show love for others
In brief, we must through our lives aim for holiness. We cannot be exactly like Mary who is sinless, but we can always strive to walk in the path of holiness.
Christmas is the birthday of Jesus, God became Man. What gift(s) shall we give Him?
In gratitude, our gift can be our promise, our commitment to spread the Good News: the peace, love, understanding, goodwill, and joy that our Lord Jesus brought to the world that first Christmas night. Let us give the gift of sharing our blessings with those He loves, especially those who are desperately in need and to take up the cause of those who are most helpless and vulnerable, the unborn children and the elderly.
The Word became flesh, and is dwelling among us. Let our prayer be:
“ . . . may we share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”
And as the Gospel today reminds us: “that we see his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth.”