24 December 2022 – Christmas Eve (The Nativity of the Lord)

by Fr Joachim Robert

Isaiah 9:1-7
Psalm 95(96):1-3,11-13
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14

Theme: Rejoice for God’s Promise of Salvation is here

Dear friends,

It brings great excitement and joy to see so many of us coming together to celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

And as we look at the readings of today, we come to realize this whole aspect of hope that is present in every readings. The obstacles, the challenges that they have gone through gives them a sense of hope, a sense of trust, sense of assurance that God is together with them.

In the same way, dear friends, you and I have come here to celebrate the King of Kings, to celebrate of the assurance of God’s abiding love and presence in our lives. Because today, dear friends, the mystery of the incarnation gives us this opportunity to acknowledge and embrace the love that the Father has for us.

In the Gospel of today, we see Mary gave birth to a son, her firstborn and she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. Here we see, dear friends, that at the heart of the Christmas story is a story of Mary giving birth to a child in a manger because there was no place in the inn. And as we see Jesus, light of the world, comes to be born in a manger, a simple humble place where people choose to reject but God chooses to be born there.

This simple story, dear friends, make us plunge into the mystery of the incarnation and that simple story changes the whole aspect of human history. And if we believe that the love of God consumes us, that the love of God invades in every aspect of our lives, then you and I, dear friends, can change this aspect of our own history as well. Because of the love that Jesus has for us transforms us, molds us and shapes us.

Every year we recount the story of the incarnation. The story of the nativity. And each time as we embrace the story of Christmas, we need to ask ourselves are we just celebrating this whole Christmas because of all the externals that is around or are we growing deeper in realisation of the deep mystery that God has for us? Embracing that each one of us are a gift that God has blessed us with and each one of us are a gift towards one another? Whether is it in a family, in a community or everywhere you are. Even in your own career, even in your own school, you need to acknowledge that you are a blessing towards one another.

And that is how, dear friends, God has made that choice for us by giving us His perfect gift of His son, Jesus. And we see how He wraps his only begotten son in his swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. It is in this humble situations of life, dear friends, the humble situations of life in our own brokenness, in our own limitations, in our own poverty that God comes to choose and be born in our lives and in our hearts. But are we willing to embrace His love for us? Acknowledging the gift that He has given to us?

Because sometimes, dear friends, we do not appreciate the gift that God has given to us because we don’t appreciate our own selves sometimes. And we must realise that this gift that God gives us in the person of Christ revealed to us who we are and allows the gift to shine and to glow and to radiate with His own goodness and His own kindness.

But this gift, dear friends, that God gives us is not one that is taken so lightly. The gift that God gives us demands that we too need to die to ourselves, that we too need to embrace the obstacles and challenges that comes along the way because that is what is demanded of any love.

And if you take the first line of today’s Gospel reading, we see that the Emperor Caesar Augustus issues a decree for census to be taken. And because of that decision of the Emperor, we see Mary and Joseph being forced to leave their homeland, from their comfortable place and take a journey to be registered. And here, dear friends, we see the hardship that they had to endure. Mary and Joseph was with child, a young couple with child and they have to flee or they need to go towards Bethlehem, a place where they have to have the census taken.

And here you see, dear friends, that that whole aspect of them moving out forces them to be dependent on the providence of God in their lives. And after they were pushed or forced, their hearts were full of expectation because they think that the town of Bethlehem was able to welcome them. But we see what happens. In the town of Bethlehem where they have so much of expectation for this child, they had no place, no inn to lay their child.

And as Mary and Joseph set out on that journey, a journey of hope thinking that things would be better, but they come to this deeper realisation that they had to face this reality that the place that they arrived in Bethlehem has no place for them. They go on knocking and knocking at many inns but could not find a place. And that experience, dear friends, makes them realise of the challenges and obstacles that comes along the way.

But we see Mary gives birth in that little stable, in a place where it was so focused on so many things of the world rather than what was taking place where the birth of Jesus. We too, dear friends, have so much of expectation of our own future, of our own children, of our own destiny, of our own career and we have so much of hopes that we set ourselves on this course of taking that journey, trusting that everything would be better. But when we come to circumstances or situations of life that we are confronted with, we come to a deeper realisation that the place that we enter into may not seem the way that we want it to. And we lose all sense of hopelessness and we find ourselves helpless.

In those situations, dear friends, Mary chooses a stable and Jesus was born in a stable, in a manger. And here, dear friends, Jesus comes to the broken situations of our lives in order to allow the grace of God to impinge on every aspect of those utter poverty. And that shows, dear friends, that this whole vocation that Mary and Joseph entered was a journey full of hope, trusting in God’s providence in their life. They were like the people in the First Reading, and it says the people that walk in darkness has seen a great light. And Jesus was that light. And how do we embrace that light?

The Second Reading gives us a clue. It says God’s grace has been revealed and it has made salvation possible to the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God. And all our worldly ambitions, we must be self-restrained and live a good and religious life here in the present world while we are waiting in hope for the blessings which comes with the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Christ Jesus.

As we look at the readings, dear friends, it continues to remind us of the depth of God’s love for us. Even though our journey is one that is full of hope, we know the obstacles and the challenges that we are confronted with. In the same way of how we see Joseph and Mary was so hopeful for the child.

And if we take a look at our own selves, dear friends, in our relationships, in our families, in our career, in our financial situations, all these areas of life sometimes gives us some sense of hope. But that hope does not bring us to great joy. The joy that comes from the Lord comes from Christ Jesus who was born in a manger. And we need to prepare our hearts, dear friends, to welcome this Jesus who so willingly and graciously empties himself from his Godhead to be born as a child.

And are we willing, dear friends, to embrace that child, born in the manger of our hearts? Are we willing to allow God to fill every areas of our lives with His love and acknowledge the great mystery of the incarnation in and through our lives?

God has chosen each and every one of you, each and every one of us. And each one of us are a great gift towards one another, in the way we relate to one another in love, in the way we reach out to one another in charity.

And the shepherds too, dear friends, when God appeared, the Angels announced the first message of the Gospel to shepherds. And those shepherds, dear friends, were people who were in the sidelines of society, people who were rejected, people who were dirty, people who had no place in the other areas of society. But we see that God chooses humble people like you and I because sometimes, dear friends, you and I are like the shepherds, with our own lowliness, with our own rejections, with our own lack of self-acceptance of one another, we need to find that God has chosen each and every one of us and allowed us to bring that message of great joy to one another.

And it says, “Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared the whole people.

Each and every one of you, dear friends, God has graced with His love. And you need to embrace that love that God has given to you by allowing yourself to entrust your life to Him with love, with dedication, with faithfulness. Because the faith we proclaim, dear friends, makes us see the areas of life that we are unable to see. In those areas of brokenness, in that manger, we see God is present. And when we look at the manger, the whole experience of Mary and Joseph, because with that experience God was present by the birth of Christ.

In our own situations of life, dear friends, God is present. And we must embrace the accompaniment of the Lord, that God Emmanuel, God is present in every situations of our lives and leads us forward so that we can remain hopeful by His guidance, by His providence and through His love.

And today we pray, dear friends, and I am sure there are many of us who are struggling in so many areas of life. Our own brokenness, our own situations of life have perhaps made us lose this sense of hope. And I am sure many of us also are seeking for God. Seeking for God in the many, many areas of our lives. But are we willing to allow this God to enter into those areas and lead us forward? Because the God who searches, it is God who searches for us rather than we searching for God.

God in his immense love and kindness comes in the form of a baby, a child to make His love known to us. Are we willing to embrace that love that He gives us?

And let us pray, dear friends, that as we celebrate Christmas that we do not neglect people who are on the peripheries like the shepherds. People who are in the war-torned countries, people who are struggling with all natural disasters, people who are struggling emotionally, financially and mentally as well. Because sometimes, dear friends, they can be bringers of those message of salvation. They can be bringers of that message of salvation because God also tells us that they are a gift to us.

And today we pray as we bring all our burdens, all our struggles, all our obstacles in life, in the same way Mary and Joseph with their own struggles and challenges put their faith and entrusted their lives into God’s hands. Let us entrust our lives into God’s hands because when we entrust our lives into God’s hands, we see how God allows Mary and Joseph to be used as His gift of salvation, in the same way He wants to use you and I, dear friends, to become the messengers of hope to bring the message of hope towards one another. And as we bring the message of joy towards one another, we know that God is present even today with all the things that is around the world, all the dark situations, all the cloud that is around us, we know ultimately God will triumph. God will be steadfast in His love and God will allow His grace to shine on us.

And today let us resound with the angels and say:-

Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace to men who enjoy God’s favour.

And those who enjoy God’s favour, dear friends, are you and I. And let us give glory and praise to God because God has made His choice for us and He has given us the blessing of His gift of His Son, jesus to us so that we too can be a gift and a blessing towards one another.

Click below to listen to the homily and watch the video:-

Click to live-stream Mass on 24 December 2022