CHRISTMAS MIDNIGHT MASS 2020 + Gethsemani
Human words can hardly express what GOD – who is LOVE – has done for us. Who can ‘translate’ the Word of God, the very Son of God, but God Himself?
The Readings we just heard during this Vigil, and all the readings, hymns, and antiphons provided by the Church and our Brother Luke – during these four weeks of Advent, have sought to create in us a deep sensitivity, a greater love – for the Mystery of Christmas, the Nativity of our Savior Jesus, the Son of God.
Brothers, we are gathered here tonight to celebrate a Birthday to commemorate a birth – the likes of which the world had never seen before – or since – in which God became one of us. The Word, the Son of God, is made flesh; translated, his name is Jesus, Emmanuel (“God with us”).
How can we appropriately celebrate the event that bears witness to the marriage of God with human nature – that ” Wonderful Exchange” – as the liturgy refers to it? We can adore today the infant Jesus – together with Mary and Joseph and the shepherds in a simple child-like way. We can imitate Mary who treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. It is in pondering these things, in contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation, that we can come to know and understand, to some extent, God’s View of human nature, imperfect, yes, but by divine election made worthy of divine love. (The coronavirus ‘time to do this’)
Our Christmas faith, however, also needs practical expression. The birth of the Lord, the Word of God, as one of us, has become, yes, a “Wonderful Exchange”!. Understandably, Christmas has become a time for giving – and receiving – gifts. Yet, this exchange becomes meaningless if we withhold ourselves from the Lord and from one another.
Every one of us needs Jesus, and we, thanks to the great work of God that began with the Incarnation, are called to be Jesus to one another, and for one another. Like St Paul may we realize as he, “I live now, not I but Christ lives in me!” A “Christian” is one in whom Christ lives! The non- Christian can and does say – this is a bit much, how can this be?
Through divine election the Son of God has taken on our nature that he might live in us and we in him. Recall one iconic revelation of this – when St Francis met a leper! The Christ in Francis recognized Christ in the leper. Only sin can and does negate such a reality.
It is in giving Jesus to one another and in receiving Jesus from one another that the Incarnation continues in the world today. The Son of God desires to live in us today, just as truly as he desired to take flesh in Mary’s womb!
Here, in our Eucharist on this Holy Night – and every time this Eucharist is celebrated, there is another ‘wonderful exchange’:we offer gifts of bread and wine to the Father, and through the working of the Holy Spirit these gifts become the Body and Blood of Jesus himself! He became one of us to give us a new heart, a child-like heart that enables us to give ourselves to God and to one another; he comes to give us a heart that is continually open to, turned to the Father, disposed to do his will on earth, disposed to love one another as he loves us; an adoring heart that gives glory to the Father. With such a heart full of Deep Peace, Love and Gratitude let us celebrate this Birthday of the Lord . Amen!
Come Lord Jesus!
Isa. 9:1-6, Titus 2:11:14, Lk. 2:1-14 Fr Alan