HOMILY – Christmas Vigil 2008

This one was from the Christmas Vigil 2008, after I had just proclaimed the LONG VERSION of the geneaology of Jesus from the beginnning of St. Matthew’s Gospel.

I thought this one was good – full of Christology, the Incarnation and lots of “Creator of the Universe” language. what worries me the most is that I will very likely preach this particular mass, always with these particular readings, every year. I’ll have to look to the Holy Spirit to help me keep it fresh.

“God is with us – Emmanuel.

He is here – he is FINALLY here, but of course as we all know, he is ALWAYS here.

God is with us – Emmanuel.

Jesus Christ is THE ONE – the one who came to us so that we all might live.

And it is his coming to US that we celebrate tonight.
For four weeks of advent we have been waiting, just like the people of God waited for centuries for the Savior to appear.

Advent is a season of expectation – but it is now over just as St. Matthew decreed with his genealogy of Jesus that we just heard.

Christmas has come – HE has come. The one who was promised from the very beginning HAS COME.

This is something which is both AWESOME and ASTOUNDING. Something that should shake our understanding of the universe to its very core . . .
GOD . . .

. . . the Creator, the author of the entire universe, he who created time and space and the entire cosmos, billions of galaxies, each containing billions of stars and billions of planets, something so vast and powerful that our minds can barely comprehend it . . .

GOD . . .
. . . who created the luminescent ball of hydrogen and helium gas that burns in space 93 million miles away from us . . .

. . . who put the moon in place to control the tides and the oh so critical orientation of this big ball of dirt and water upon which we live . . .

GOD . . .
. . . who established ALL the laws of NATURE and of SCIENCE in this universe we live in and who brought forth the enormous abundance of life on this planet, against astronomical odds of coincidence and mathematical probability . . .

GOD . . .
. . . who specifically infused into every single one of us alive today – and billions upon billions more like us who went before and who are yet to come – the sacred gift of life and consciousness, each one of us unique, precious and unrepeatable . . .

GOD . . .
. . . came among US this night.

GOD became HUMAN – he took on a HUMAN NATURE.

Have we actually sat and thought about what this means – about ALL the implications of this event?

Well, that is what this night is meant for.

He who is ALL powerful, ALL knowing, ALL loving (for the act of creation must by its very definition be an act of love), LIMITED by nothing and CAUSED by nothing . . . IN FACT the very CAUSE and ESSENCE of LIFE itself . . .
. . .became one of US?

2000 years ago he came into this world utterly helpless, just as we all do, to a young mother who knew only to do God’s will. . .

. . . and to a foster father who became the model for all fathers who would ever come after him.

. . . GOD joined this human family . . . the simple family of Joseph, of the House of David, and his wife Mary.
Christmas is a celebration that has taken on a life of its own in our culture today.

It has come to stand for consumerism and commercialism and all those other materialistic “isms” that I’m sure you’re all rather tired of seeing and experiencing by now.

But WE who are Christians understand what Christmas is REALLY all about – and unlike Charlie Brown we didn’t need Linus to tell us either . . .

At its most basic, it’s about that HE CAME.
GOD came.

God “lowered” himself – and how can we honestly describe it as anything other than a “lowering” – into becoming human.

HE IS GOD . . .

And yet he came to us and breathed our air and walked among us and taught us many AMAZING things – and gave us gifts far beyond all imagining. . .

But contrary to what the media might tell you about him – the one whose coming we celebrate tonight was far, far MORE than just a “good man”, or an “innovative thinker” or the founder of a “new philosophy of life” who sprang from the hills of ancient Palestine some 2000 years past.

HE WAS – AND IS – GOD.

And HE DECIDED to become one of US. . .

The only explanation possible for his doing this – and in the end the only one that is at all necessary . . . is that he decided to do this because HE LOVED US.

And indeed the depth of his love for us would be shown through the ultimate sacrifice he made upon Calvary – which we are about to celebrate at this altar in just a few moments. . . .

He loves us so much that he comes to meet us where we are.

He came down from Heaven to be with us so that we could be with him in Heaven forever.

He loves us so much that He endured, hunger, pain, sadness, grief, joy, laughter, happiness, strength and weakness just so He could come to be with us.

We don’t have to search high and low for Him, because He came for us and to us. Just as he said in John, Chapter 3:
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son . . . that whosoever believes in him will have eternal life.”

A love like that demands a response back from us – that is the thought I would like each one of us to meditate and pray upon this Christmas season – how do we respond to a wondrous love like that.

For THAT LOVE is what we are celebrating tonight. . . .
THAT is why we proclaim joy to the world. . .

And in the spirit of THAT LOVE – and of THAT ALONE . . . I wish you all a very, MERRY Christmas.”

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