Year A / Christmas / Christmas Day
Readings Isaiah 52.7-10 / Psalm 97.1,2-3ab, 3cd-4, 5-6 (R/v 3) / Hebrews 1.1-6 / John 1.1-5, 9-14
Sisters and brothers, today is Christmas. Many of us will gather with family and friends for meals and drinks; there will be good cheer and glad tidings shared. We will greet each other. We will catch up on the past year. We will speak to one another.
What do you hope to hear today? Greetings of “Merry Christmas”, “Holy Christmas”, “Blessed Christmas”? Or, words of love and expressions of loving between family and friends. Or maybe, thanksgiving and gratitude for the gifts we give each other, and, hopefully, for the gift we are?
Why would we wish to hear these words? Because today of all days in the year, on this holy Christmas day, we are filled with so much joy overflowing that we want to give and share and to receive and welcome.
There is someone like this. Once he gave everything he had, including that which he treasured most. He gave so that others might receive. Not just receive but also embrace his most cherished gift. He does this so that we can delight when we receive it. This giver is God and we are the receivers.
John the Evangelist tells us what God gave us once in history: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3.16). God continues to give us Jesus. Christmas reminds us of this truth.
Today’s gospel is about God’s Word. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1.1). Jesus is God’s Word come down to us. Come down as radiant light to guide. Come down as daily bread to feed. Come down as healing balm to restore. Come down as consoling wisdom to guide. Come down as grace upon grace for us to have life to the fullest. Come down to save us.
Come down to simply, and joyfully, reveal the face of God to us and his immense saving love for all.
What do we hear about God’s Word at Christmas? The angels heralded it, announcing Jesus as the Christ and his peace to all people of goodwill. The shepherds came to adore him as God’s Word alive, now in our midst. Mary and Joseph held their newborn and loved him.
This is what we will see when we stand before the infant Jesus in the crib or manger in Church. But if we look longer, more intensely, we will also see him — this vulnerable, helpless baby — with outstretched hands, waiting.
Waiting for what? Waiting for you and me to pause, to quieten ourselves, to open our hearts before him, the Infant Jesus, as we go about celebrating Christmas today, and living day to day, to just listen. More honestly to dare to listen to him who is in our hearts. Hearts that like the crib or manger are sometimes messy and smelly, dirtied and soiled by sin, our sin. Yet God values us as worthy enough — very worthy enough, in fact — to be his dwelling place. Yes, God is indeed dwelling in our hearts. In Jesus, with Jesus and through Jesus, God is with us.
When we dare to listen to Jesus, what will we hear him say as he reaches out to lift us up, as he always does before we even reach out to him? Simply this: “You are mine.”
Maybe then we will understand that God is also waiting to hear from us. Waiting with a great big heart to welcome and receive us, no matter our state of grace. Waiting to hear nothing more than these words I believe are the right, humble and joyful words that are the best we can say in response to Jesus: “And I, Lord, I belong to You”.
A Blessed Christmas!