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Christmas Homily 2015

Christmas – Mass During the Night
Isaiah 9:1-6
Titus 2:11-14
Luke 2:1-14
December 25, 2015

The grace of God has appeared as a little baby laying in a manger.  His name is Jesus.

Today is a time to rejoice.  Today a savior is born.  Jesus is God visible. Baby Jesus is an image of God’s love for us.

There is much that goes on for Christmas.  There are decorations inside and out.  The decorations are beautiful but they are not just decorations.  They are symbols of Christmas and what it means for us.

There are our Christmas lights.  On the outside of houses we can see a lot of lights and these displays can be impressive. Here inside church, there are not so many lights but the symbolism is the same.  Jesus is the light of the world.

Also inside here are on our Christmas trees.  The trees are also a symbol of our faith.  Christmas trees are evergreen trees symbolizing everlasting life.  The trees also can be seen as an arrow whose top points us to the Heaven.

There are also the Christmas parties.  Do you ever talk about Jesus at your Christmas party?

Of course we shouldn’t forget the Christmas gifts.  Well, actually I won’t mind forgetting all the gifts. It can be a lot of work and for people like me who want to avoid having a lot of stuff, gifts can be stressing.

However, in just the last few days I have had a change of heart about Christmas gifts.  I have decided that gifts really are what Christmas is all about.

I’m still not interested in presents, just gifts.  What’s the difference?

Presents are things we give to each other.  There is nothing wrong with presents as long as they are given and received in love.  When I speak of gifts, I am talking about what God gives us.

God gives us many different gifts.  Here are the altar we celebrate the gift of the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the gift of Jesus’ Body and Blood to strengthen us as his disciples.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a gift for us to receive God’s forgiveness.  God doesn’t have to forgive us but He wants to. If you think confession has gone by the way side, think again.  I spent twelve days or thirteen hours this month hearing confessions.  People want this gift.

In a world of darkness, Jesus gives us the gift of his light. Jesus helps us to see the world differently.

In a world where more and more people say there is no one truth, Jesus gives us the real Truth, a Truth that never changes. God’s Word as found in the Bible is a gift.

Jesus gives us the gift of life, life that begins in our mother’s womb.  We receive new spiritual life in Baptism.  We see everlasting life only after we have passed from this world.  Life is a gift.

Even faith begins with God’s gift. We make a choice to accept the gift of faith but it begins with God’s initiative of giving us the gift of faith.

God gives us the gift of his mercy. Mercy includes forgiveness but it more than that. Offering mercy includes corporal works such as feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.  Spiritual works of mercy are rooted in consoling those in need.  We live in a world of increasing darkness of violence, greed, and power.  Jesus gives us light to see God in the darkness.

All of this comes together in the gift we receive today Jesus.  Jesus brings us light.  Jesus brings us truth in his preaching.  Jesus shows us the way.  Jesus is mercy incarnate.

Today is a very special day. We see God’s mercy, his love, today.  Today we feel joy as we gaze upon the baby Jesus.

There is good news!  Jesus wants us to have this joy each and every day.  This is not easy in a world of increasing darkness.  We live in a world full of distractions that can separate us from God.  We need help to reconnect.

To help us all reconnect, we have a gift for you as you leave today.  It is a book called Rediscover Catholicism. We will give one to each household to help all of us reconnect and/or deepen our faith.  You accept the gift by reading the book.

Remember today is not centered on presents.  It’s all about the gift that Jesus is to us.  May our worship today express our thanks to God.

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