The Nativity of the Lord
"And suddenly, there was with the angels a multitude of the heavenly hosts,
praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the Highest; and Peace on earth to men
of good will!"
God's greatest miracles often go unnoticed unless there are messengers and
angels to announce them. God's gifts of peace, and justice and reconciliation
are hidden in the ordinariness and ugliness of human history; there must be
angels to point them out.
Perhaps that's one of the important lessons of Christmas, for all ages. This
year, the Christmas moon and stars look down on a scene that looks very ordinary
and, in many places, very ugly. There are colorful lights, the exchanging of
gifts, holiday meals, the singing of carols - but there are also cries of
hunger, the darkness of war, the emptiness of loss, the exchange of gunfire.
There there seems to be very few signs of peace, good will and God's glory.
The miracle of Christ's coming in our flesh, of God's taking on our humanity
and making it holy seems very hidden indeed. There must be voices that will
shatter the darkness and dispel the despair. There must be messengers to
reassure suffering people everywhere that God is with us, that peace is
possible, that justice is attainable.
We who believe the miracle of Christmas must be the messengers. We must
announce God's presence and the Saving Word of Jesus to the sick and lonely and
suffering people around us. We do this by our words, our acts and our lives. It
is our sense of wonder and awe of the miracle of Christmas. It is the song of
our love and compassion for others day in the ordinary circumstances of everyday
that announce: "Glory to God in the highest and peace to those on whom God's
favor rests!" Then, and only then, will the rest of the world know how
remarkable Christmas really is!
The truth we celebrate at Christmas is that God's Spirit permeates throughout
all human cultures. It moves men and women to greater depths of cooperation and
care and generosity& it assures all of us of hope and healing in the face of the
suffering and tragedy of this fragile planet. And it moves all of us to live our
lives the best we can, in ways that ennoble and dignify our neighbors and
Christmas is such a powerful, intimate reminder that, once we believe, we are
never alone. Once we accept the miracle of God-made-man, then every facet of
human life takes on a new dimension ...a Jesus-dimension. Everything is touched
by His spirit of love, of peace, of hope.
The story of Jesus helps us to articulate an understanding of faith and of
human understanding that sets us free from fear of the unknown, and affirms a
relationship with God whose outpouring of Love is all-encompassing. In the quiet
and promise of Christmas we rediscover the incredible power of this love. We
realize once again that He continues to be present to us, that He is aware of
our needs, concerned for our pain and our sorrow. He is as near as our very
breath, within us, around us.
For a brief moment, we put aside all of the evil and the ugliness, the drums
of war, the burden of poverty and injustice, the clouds of sadness and sickness
- and we move into the silence of Bethlehem, to gaze upon the
impossible-come-true. We see the Child-king, the prince of peace, the
long-awaited Messiah, the Redeemer and Savior... the light and the hope of the
Christ, the Word become Flesh reminds us that the Kingdom of God is not
something unattainable or out of reach& it is not something in the future for
which we hope. The Word became Flesh to remind us that the Kingdom is here and
now: among us, around us, within us&
Christmas challenges us to turn upside down and inside out where we look for
the sacred: in the mess of the stable, in events that can go horribly wrong, in
the lowliest of people, in people of different cultures, in the love of a man
and a woman and their baby.
My prayers for you and your families throughout this special Christmas season
and all throughout your journey of faith. Together we rejoice in our God, who
shares in our humanity, who calls us to Himself, who brings us a different kind
Let us, together, be bearers of the Christmas message to all. We proclaim and