Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Homily (2) for the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Mass during the Day Year ABC - Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) for the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas Mass during the Day Year ABC - Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Readings: Isa 52:7-10; Ps 98:1-6; Heb 1:1-6 and John 1:1-18

The Word Became flesh at Christmas!

  “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).

 This is the entrance antiphon of today’s Mass, the words of prophet Isaiah. This prophecy fulfills and explains the reasons why we are so joyfully and decoratively gathered today. We gather to celebrate Christmas, the Birth of Christ our Lord and Savior, the creative Logos/Word who became flesh and dwelt among us,  the Light of the world, the Divine Wisdom and God’s loving incarnate ( John 1:1-18).

 In the 2nd reading, the Letter to the Hebrews (1:1-6) God became Christ, human and divine because he loves us always. In time past, from the beginning  God spoke to us, he manifested himself to us through the burning bush, through various prophets down to John the Baptist. He also communicated with us through his messengers, angels. Remember angel Gabriel who said to Mary Hail Mary, full of Grace the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus (Luke 1). Remember the same Gabriel said to the worried Joseph, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife home …for it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her(Matt 1:18-24). Angel also played a role in the birth of Samuel and Samson. God also spoke and directed Tobit and Tobias through his messenger, angel Raphael (cf. Tobit).

But today, these days God speaks and communicates with us through someone who is superior to all Israel prophets. He is superior to John the Baptist. God speaks to us through someone who is superior to the angels. In fact, the angels worship him.  That person is God’s Son, Jesus Christ born for us at Christmas.

Christmas brings us 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. Christmas brings us joy.

This is the joy that I have always experienced here in our parish community. The joy that mixes with God’s love, and team spirit among various groups here in our parish, the knights, the Columbietes, the staff, men, women and children. Joy in our families, work places and environments!

I love our new church bell. It swings and rings hourly or half-hourly. It adds to this joy, and often reminds me of the response of the angels to the Birth of Christ.
 The angels broke into a great song, “Glory to God in the Highest… peace to people of good will”, which we began this Mass with.  This song is hidden, in that poetic first reading (Isaiah 52:7-10), a song of the redeemed:

“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.”

This King is Christ, born for at Christmas. This King has always preexisted with God his father, "in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God...."(John 1:1-18). As a pre-existence Son of God Christ is the source of all things: our lives, our families, our energies to do our jobs, to participate in politics and manage our economy, go to schools, keep our homes and raise our kids.

Christmas invites us to celebrate the involvement of God in human flesh and in the human history: “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In his compassionate ministry among humans, water would be changed into wine, women will be spoken to, and children would be invited with care. The poor would be loved, the hungry would be fed. Sinners would be forgiven. Zacchaeus would be visited. Lazarus would be raised from the death. Christ born today would come to wash the feet of his disciples. He will lecture Pilate on the meaning of truth and Mary Magdalene on the importance of detachment.

 How we receive Christ, the Light of the world at Christmas and our how we welcome him in our hearts, in our homes, and families and nation is important. It is true that we have decorated our offices, churches, streets and homes, purchased and exchanged gifts. Christmas carols and songs are booming in our homes and cars.

But sometimes you noticed that our gifts are only being circulated among ourselves and colleagues. This is the first Christmas after the Election of Pope Francis and the Death of Nelson Mandela of South Africa. Pope Francis, like Christ, we know has invested a lot of his energy and preaching on the need to reach out to the poor and the needy. And Mandela attracted so many to his funeral because of what he stood for as well: love, reconciliation, unity and oneness.

As we celebrate Christmas this year, we might want to joyfully take extra steps and reach out to the poor with acts of charity and to our neighbors with love, oneness, unity and reconciliation.

  “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.!”