The Nativity of the Lord (2014)

A long with Silent Night and O Come all ye Faithful, O Holy Night is a Christmas hymn that touches us deeply[1]. One of the many beautiful verses in O Holy Night is:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt it's worth[2]

This verse captures the depth of the mystery we celebrate tonight: God loves us so much that the Father sent the Son to defeat evil for us, to be one of us. Together the Father and Son gave us the Spirit to empower us to continue the Divine Presence and lead other back into intimate union with God. But who is this Jesus, who always existed but whose taking on humanity we celebrate today?  Let’s begin with the way we speak about him at Mass. As you know, the prayers of Mass have changed a bit, returning to a more precise translation of the Latin. Listen to what we will shortly be praying in the Creed:

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father. So why is this important for us? It is important because it tells us both who Jesus is and who we are. We are that portion of God’s creation that God loves so much that He became one of us, and suffered physical death for us. The verse puts it succinctly:

Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt it's worth

Who are we?  We are people who are worth it. How much God values us! And not just us as people in general, but every single one of us as individual unique reflections of His Beauty, His Truth and His Goodness.  This is a message that He tells us over and over again in Sacred Scripture.  He values us. We are His.  And He is ours. We need to remember this simple fact: we are loved. Every person here is loved by God.

A few years ago, our retired pope, Pope Benedict XVI, gave weekly audiences focussing on the Fathers of the Church, the early theologians that put the mysteries of God into language. In his message about one of these fathers, Eusebius of Caesarea, Pope Benedict spoke about the mystery of Jesus. He concluded with this: «We cannot remain inert before a God who loves us so deeply». What a word, inert!  Inert is the opposite of motion, the opposite of action. When we recognize what God’s love has done for us, we have to go into action. We have to respond to this love.  We cannot be inert. We cannot act as though nothing has happened. Christmas has happened. The Divine Presence has become One with Us.  We must be part of the transformation of the world.

Come home to your faith, the Church calls to us on Christmas.  Come home to Jesus Christ. We need to be with Him.  We are too valuable, too worthy, to be anywhere else.

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Til He appeared and the soul felt it's worth
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn

Fall on your knees
O hear the angels’ voices
O night divine!
O night when Christ was born.
O night divine!
O night, O night divine!



[1] Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas), December 25, 2011. You can see the different readings for different mases, here: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122514.cfm
[2] "O Holy Night" ("Cantique de Noël") is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) by a wine merchant and poet, Placide Cappeau (1808–1877). In Roquemaure at the end of the year 1843, the church organ was recently renovated. To celebrate the event, the parish priest asked Cappeau, native from this town, to write a Christmas poem. Cappeau did it, although being a professed anticlerical and atheist. Soon after, Adam wrote the music. The song was premiered in Roquemaure in 1847 by the opera singer Emily Laurey. Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight's Journal of Music, created a singing edition based on Cappeau's French text in 1855. In both the French original and in the two familiar English versions of the carol, the text reflects on the birth of Jesus and of humanity's redemption.

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