Homily Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Vigil Mass) Year ABC- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isaiah 62:1-3; Ps 89:4-5,16-17, 27,29; Acts 13:16-17, 22-25 and Matt 1:1-25
Christ, joy to the world at Christmas!
Tonight we celebrate with joy the mystery of God’s incarnate in Christ Jesus. We celebrate a fulfillment of those ancient promises made by God to Abraham and his descendants in the Book of Genesis, to David in 2 Samuel chapter 7, and down to us through Israel’s prophets: Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Zephaniah, John the Baptist whom we all listen to, very attentively during these past 4 weeks of Advent.
Notably, Isaiah’s prophecy that: “A child is born for us, and a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God Hero, Father –forever, Prince of Peace… and his name will be called Messenger of great counsel” ( cf Isa 9:5-6) is fulfilled tonight in the birth of Christ, narrated in Matthew’s Gospel, that long genealogy ( Matt 1:1-25)
This birth brings us redemption, light and joy as it did to Israel. Even the angels could not resist the joy. They broke into that Gloria with which we began this mass with: “Glory to God in the Highest… peace to people of good will.” This song is also hidden particularly in Deutoro- Isaiah 52:7-10, the song of the redeemed Israel:
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace (not war, not selfishness, not hatred, not greediness, revenge and division, but) bearing, good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion “Your God is King.”
It is also hidden in the first reading of today, Isaiah 62:1-5, because, ‘no more shall people call Israel forsaken or consider Israel’ land desolate. Rather, with Christ’s birth the Lord rejoices over Israel and us the renewed Israel!
Christmas refreshes and renews us in Christ, the source of life. Christmas brings us Jesus, a Friend of the poor and of the rich. Christmas brings us Christ, Lover of saints and sinners, a Messenger of hope, a Prince of Peace and a Prophet of reconciliation, especially in a divisive world of today; a world plagued with wobbling politics, racism and a broken economy. His birth requires a response from us!
One of these responses if I may suggest is found in Psalm 89, “singing the goodness of the Lord.” Thanking God for all that he has done for us from creatiion- coming down in the person of his Son, in human form to be with us, to identify with us.
In addition, like St. Paul in Acts of the Apostles today, we are invited to bear witness to this King born for us tonight, this Son of David. It may not necessary be in Antioch in Pisidia, but witness to Christ could be bore, or the joy of Christ, his peace could be shared and spread around in the in the street corners of our neighborhood, offices and homes.
In a changing world of war and terrorism we could pray at this Christmas openly or in the silence of our hearts for our brothers and in the Middle East and other parts of the world where war has became the order of the day.
Secularism is constantly challenging what we celebrate tonight. We also want to constantly allow those unfading Christmas Carols in our homes, “come ye faithful,..” “Adestes Fideles,..” Once in royal David City….” “Joy to the world….the Lord is come…” e want to keep that faith handed down to us.
In the new English translation of the Nicene Creed, we are reminded to say “I believe in One God.” It is a personal faith, but expressed in the community together. We want to be constantly proud of our faith, our rich heritage and tradition. Merry Christmas to our neighbors should not be too difficult to say! Neither should it take the place of Happy Holiday!
Naturally every good gift brings us joy. There are no gifts greater than that of Christ. It is a royal gift. And we want to respond to Christ’s gifts, by sharing his love and generosity with our neighbors, during this Christmas. Remember, this could be in form sharing our candies, food, drinks, cookies, and clothing with the needy or exchanging lovely Christmas cards. Depending, it can also be done through other forms of acts of charity: like those nice telephone calls we extend to our neighbors, distant friends and relatives, and the over all joy of Christ we share with everyone, friends and our family members. Christ is a joy to the world! He is joy to humanity!
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive the King; Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven, and heaven and nature sing.!”