We celebrate, Jesus born in History; We celebrate Christ now in mystery, we celebrate with expectant faith our waiting for Him to come in Glory.
Christmas, is the reward for waiting: We spend so much time in our lives waiting! We wait to be born! We wait to grow up; we wait for love to come into our lives, we wait to see our children grow etc. On the day to day level, we wait in endless queues at the Post Office, Woolworths, Harrods, and then on the telephone as we are continually being told that ‘your call is important to us, you have moved along in the queue’, and so on. Waiting is part of life, and we can make valuable use of it or we can drive ourselves mad by trying to fight it! I have been prone to being a little impatient at times…to say the least, so I am no model of this virtue. However, waiting gives us the prime time to prepare for important moments, especially personal growth, and personal examination as to what drives us, and what is the real meaning in living life to the fullest can happen while we wait!
During Advent, God’s Word has led us on a pilgrimage of ‘waiting’ episodes. The ‘waiting’ that took place during and up till the time of Our Lord’s birth, was a test in more ways than one for Israel. However, the ‘faithful few’…the Anawim (the poor of the Lord God), reaped the benefits of waiting as the Lord God’s promise was fulfilled in the birth of a Baby, named Jesus. Christmas is the reward for waiting.
Christmas is a time of hope: The prophets of doom have never had it so good! It seems that the world thrives on ‘bad news’ Television News programs increase their ratings when the most gruesome of stories can be told while we are having our Tea (Supper, Evening Meal in Australia) within the comfort of our own home. Yet, every now and then we see a really good story, an uplifting moment when people are truly reaching for their potential, and are supported by others or inspired by them. We say to ourselves….’isn’t it great to see some ‘good news’?
When all seemed lost for God’s people, we see that God is always faithful to His promises. In looking forward to a time when a young woman of marriageable age would bear a son, who would be called, Emmanuel…God-is-with-us, that took some waiting! Our Lady is a sign of hope, and a model of faith for us, the flowering Lily of the Anawim, and the representative of the faithful few….Only real trust in God’s Word is lived in hope….’Let what you have said be done unto me’. Nothing is impossible to God!
In our world of today, the faces have changed, but the message remains the same…..’Let what you have said be done unto me’ is an evergreen wisdom saying which bears fruit…the fruits of Hope. We are called to be people of hope in the midst of seeming hopelessness. Evil may seem to triumph so often, as we have seen this in the terror attacks of Paris and Berlin and in many other places in our world; we have witnessed the absolute genocide by blood thirsty maniacs, in the name of Islam in the Middle East. However, the fruits of hope are mostly not seen nor heard; but we know it happens, and it begins always with us. Christmas is a time of hope.
Christmas is a moment of challenge: God’s Word to humanity has always, been and is, a mighty challenge and invitation to us….the RSVP is now! Not tomorrow! If there was no challenge, there would be no everlasting value. Christmas challenged the world of Mary and Joseph; there was no place for them to stay while she who was with child could give birth. When all seemed lost; there was no room in the Inn, the Stable became ‘home’. This time and place is the opposite of what the world sees as ‘greatness’, yet again, God’s ways are not always our ways. Greatness is not seen in foot washing either, yet the Jug of water, the towel, ministered by the Word made flesh, are the real symbols of true greatness. Jesus invites us to copy his example. Jesus calls us to be challenged by it. If we dare to say that we ‘speak the truth in love’, it can only happen when we listen to the truth in humility.
Our Church is facing an almighty challenge; in so many places, the corporate world with its own trappings has infiltrated the Church. Running the Church like a business, with its so called efficient style, so often is ‘deaf’ to the ‘little ones’. Impersonal dealings with individuals from ‘on high’ demeans the very nature of the personal touch of the Lord Jesus. The ‘dressing up’ in cloth of gold by some of our leaders and the extravagance of so called odds and ends on the altar, turn the altar and sanctuary into a Garage sale! And a performance equal to Gilbert and Sullivan. I am appalled at many of our so called Liturgical extravaganzas these days, which is not true Liturgy, but a painful performance of sad looking people acting out in order to please God, while the gathered community sits in awe and feels out of the picture. Let’s remember one of the great sayings of St Therese, ‘Lord, save me from sour faced saints and silly devotions’ food for thought and a challenge for the Church. Pope Francis is trying to refresh the real meaning of mission and liturgical expression in our Church, but sadly for so many of our local Leaders, it falls on deaf ears. To me the ‘change’ to become a poorer, church, a simple church and spirit filled church, and embracing church is like trying to turn around a three masted sailing ship in a canal. Christmas is a time of challenge!
Jesus, the human face of the Father being born amongst us, was an immediate challenge to King Herod! The quest for power is the opposite of servanthood, and again the action of God causes a challenge for all of us. In our place of work, in our relationships with other people, in our acceptance or rejection of new comers to our land, in our response to be living editions of the Good News; or its opposite, is being part of the Dog eat Dog attitude which shows up every now and then in our society and in our Church. Some of these attitudes might be related to King Herod’s problems. Christmas is always a moment of challenge.
Christmas is an opportunity for reconciliation: Within that wonderful word, Reconciliation, is ‘conciliation’. Conciliation comes from its Latin root meaning ‘a desire to meet’. So therefore before any lasting reconciliation can happen, there has to be that desire, otherwise it can all be ‘window dressing.’ Christmas can be a time of deep sadness for families due to various forms of estrangement or divisions. Some of these rifts between people may only be healed in the next life. Sometimes the pain can run so deep. It can be a form of ‘fake news’ to say to oneself…’ well all is forgiven…let’s start again.’ Maybe because the again and again has worn thin. However, we can let that inner sadness simmer for years like a Slow Cooker, and it can either make us bitter and crusty, or more loving and compassionate. Some of the greatest lovers in this world are those who have suffered much. Lest we forget, that ‘the greatest sign of God’s love is His Passion and Cross.’ Says St. Paul of the Cross, Founder of the Passionists.
The desire to meet each other is the first step to reconciliation; maybe that opportunity might arise for us during this Christmas time. If so, let’s take it!
Christmas is a time of celebration:
The various Christmas Carols bristle with Joy! All that the Lord God had said in the Old Testament became flesh in the Living Word – Jesus! Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to His people on earth!
The people who walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone……Lord Jesus Christ you are the light of the world, you are the corner stone and our centre. Light of Christ, light flaming bright, burn in our hearts Holy Fire. It is that ‘fire’ within, that sparks the celebration and give meaning to authentic Liturgy. If the Christmas Masses are just cold rubrics, exactly acted out, and the Music and song worthy of the Sydney Opera House; that needs to be questioned as to whether it is all a performance, or something so deeply moving that it changes us and consolidates us in Christ as a community. The Christmas Masses, especially Midnight Mass, has that extra special electric feeling of Holy Joy when it runs through to our very bones. Then there are the family celebrations at home with relatives and friends, the strengthening of the bonds of love and acceptance. Once again there can be the sadness of empty chairs due to members of our family going off to the Lord’s loving embrace, through the gateway of death, or have gone overseas for Holidays. Visits to our Cemeteries at this time, is a stilling moment of ‘presence’ and ‘love’ as we kneel on the Holy Ground of our loved one’s graves. There can also be the sadness of being thousands of miles away from our families who live overseas. This aspect rings true for my family, and most families these days. May that spark of ‘fire’ continue to be kindled through the coming New Year? May God’s Word be a light for our path at all times, and may we continue to be nourished, through regular Sacramental moments, carried by His Word with our community-the living body of Christ into the Mission of bringing Heaven to Earth!
God sent His Angels to Shepherds to herald the great joy of our Savior’s birth. May he fill you with joy and make us heralds of his Good News, today, tomorrow and always. Amen.
We celebrate, Jesus born in History, We celebrate Christ now in mystery, we await for Him to come in Glory.
Fr Kevin Walsh
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web:https://realhomilies.wordpress.com/