Christmas Eve

We gather this evening to celebrate the center event of God’s creation [I mean] this is the Christ event, all creation leads to Jesus Christ; all creation takes its meaning from Our Lord. The Christ event begins with the Nativity of the Lord –tonight- and concludes with the feast of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost[1].

During the last week we were reflecting on the Holy Scripture; probably the one passage most of us know so well is in Isaiah, when the prophet tells the King about the transformation of the world: A virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel, a name that means God is with us[2].”

[Well] The Holy Scripture speak over and over about the fulfillment of these promises in Jesus Christ, and tonight precisely we are drawn into His Presence, and are drawn away from all that rejects His Presence. At least for tonight we are separated from the emptiness of a world that rejects God. Tonight we are called to holiness; for to be holy is to be separate for the Lord.

And yes, my brother, my sister, you and I can be holy. We can be His People, we can share –and we should share- the divine fire of the Lord with all those around us. The Divine Presence that gives meaning to our lives also gives us the power, the courage, the strength to walk away from the emptiness that so much of society has been sucked into.

Whether there are angels calling shepherds or a star appearing to Kings, or rumor of people in horrible need a continent away or in the house next door, or in our own homes, we are called to step away from our comforts and step into the Presence of the Lord: Christ identifies with those who are suffering: I was hungry, or thirsty, a stranger, or naked, sick or imprisoned[3]. We are called to him. We are called to personal holiness.

We have to think: who is it in my family who need special care? Is it an elderly relative, sick, impatient, quarrelsome, helpless? Is it a husband or wife, brother or sister who is unsettled with life? Is it a teen with difficult challenges or a child with special needs? They are there. Every family has members calling out to the rest for help, calling others into holiness.

Who is it in our parish who draw us to sacrifice and to service? There are many who are calling us to be stewards of the treasures of our parish, calling us into holiness.

Let us remember this evening that the world had little compassion for a young girl in labor. She was offered a spot in a stable, with the animals. There was no appearance of royalty about the scene, other than the royalty at its center. That was sufficient. The King of Kings was born into poverty to draw us away from the riches of the world and into His Presence.

Our Patron, St. Vincent de Paul, saw this birth as a call to holiness, a call away from the world’s riches and a call to the wealth of the Lord.

And so we greet one another today by saying “Merry Christmas.” Be merry, celebrate the birth of the Lord. Be joyful, not just because a baby was born 2,000 years ago, but because God has entered into our world to draw us into His Presence.

Merry Christmas, be Joyful, for we have been chosen by the Son of God to be holy and to walk in his presence ■
[1] Christmas Eve, MIDNIGHT MASS: Isaiah 9:1-7. Today is born our Saviour, Christ the Lord—Ps 95(96):1-3, 11-13. Titus 2:11-14. Luke 2:1-14.
[2] 7:14.
[3] Mt 25:31-46.

Ilustration: Taddeo Gaddi, The Angelic Announcement to the Sheperds,1327-30FrescoCappella Baroncelli, Santa Croce, Florence

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris