this is a day of great joy because of the salvation jesus christ brings us by entering into human life and history
Homily for Christmas Day Mass ©, December 25th, 2018:
This is a very happy day. The readings reflect this. In the first reading the prophet Isaiah says “the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth…your Savior comes!”(Isa 62:11). Isaiah continues: “…Here is His reward with Him, His recompense before Him”(Isa 62:11). He concludes in verse 12: “…They shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord,…”(Isa 62:12). These names in verse 12 show the happiness, holiness, and glory of a new Zion.
Psalm 97 indicates that Zion is glad. The writer rejoices in the reign of Yahweh. Yahweh’s kingship overcomes all opposition. Zion welcomes its victorious creator-Lord.
In St. Luke’s Gospel, the shepherds get over their fear. They go in haste to Bethlehem to respond to the news of salvation that the angel has given them. Then, the shepherds tell what they have seen to others. Their hearers are astonished. Those who hear the shepherds’ testimony also glorify and praise God. And the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the ideal recipient of God’s Word, reflects on God’s words and deeds in her heart.
But perhaps what is most important is in St. Paul’s Letter to Titus. St. Paul describes God’s plan of justification, of which Jesus Christ has a critical part. St. Paul writes that God is kind and generous. He has appeared because of His Mercy, not because of our merits. God saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”(Titus 3:5). God has poured out this “through Jesus Christ our Savior”(Titus 3:6). So this Jesus Christ, who was born in a manger in Bethlehem is a savior for us. God poured out generously and abundantly this Holy Spirit “so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life”(Titus 3:7). That’s a lot to be happy about this Christmas Day.
Here is what it means for us: Good theology leads to good morality. God’s grace strengthens us to live virtuous lives. That is why God gives us grace through His Son and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to live virtuous lives. Our merits are ineffective and irrelevant. God’s mercy gives us salvation. Jesus’s sacrificial death brings us salvation. We participate in Jesus’s salvation when we accept and receive the cleansing of new birth and the gift of the Holy Spirit. God gave a spirit of life to Adam’s lifeless, clay body and enlivened him. God enlivens us by putting a new and Holy Spirit in us when we share in Christ’s death and resurrection. This allows us to love and acknowledge God as “Abba,” “Father.” We can walk blamelessly in our new lives. We are not God’s enemies. We are God’s children and even heirs. We have in God a hope for eternal life. So God, through His Son Jesus Christ, has radically changed our lives by entering our lives. Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Mediator. The Holy Spirit which God pours out on us liberally sanctifies us. All of this comes from grace, which results in our sanctification through the Holy Spirit.
This is much more than a process. But that is what St. Paul describes to Titus. And this answers for us the question of why this birth of Jesus Christ is so important. It gives us the opportunity to respond to God’s love and mercy, through which He sent us His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ. He did it, and Jesus did it, out of love, for the lowest of the low (shepherds) and the highest of the high, and everyone inbetween. He did it for saints and sinners alike. That is what this is all about this Christmas. This Christmas is all about salvation through our only Savior, Jesus Christ.
February 12, 2017
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