My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
So today we celebrate Christmas!
It’s a different way, usually we celebrate the midnight Mass here at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, but this year because the situation with the coronavirus pandemic, we have some limitations, so we are happy to be together for this special celebration.
Merry Christmas to you all!
We especially pray for all the ones who are suffering as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and their families, also for the essential workers — for everyone that we can be protected from this terrible disease.
So, for centuries the Church has listened to these words from sacred Scripture that we have just listened to.
The Word of God remains the same. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. But the conditions in the world change, situations change in our lives.
So this year, as I was saying, we hear these words of Scripture in a time when the whole world has been stricken by a deadly virus. But we hear these words, knowing the God is with us.
It is true that for months we have been living with the situation that has affected our society, our worship and the way of life that we have. And especially, it has kind of asked for all of us to have a special effort in making sure that we take care of one another.
This evening, the prophet Isaiah proclaims to us:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone. …
For a Child is born to us, a Son is given us. …
This is, as we know, ancient prophecy of Christmas, as we know. Hundreds of years before Jesus Christ was born, God was preparing his people’s hearts, teaching them to hope in his promises.
So this evening, we hear the prophet’s words and my brothers and sisters, they are personal. They are like a letter written for us. You and I are the people walking in darkness, burdened by powers and forces we can’t control, our land overshadowed by gloom and uncertainty.
And to us a Child is born! Even in this pandemic, the Son of God comes, breaking into our reality, like a great light shining in the darkness of our fear and sadness. And he comes to bring us joy, to set us free from our borders and our worries.
This Child comes this evening to show us that we are living our whole life surrounded by the light of God’s love, the beautiful reality of his loving presence in our lives and in our world.
In the same way, the words we heard in this evening’s Gospel were written 2,000 years ago. We’ve heard them many times before, but I think this evening they are spoken at the end of a troubled 2020. They are a source of hope for all of us:
What the angels in heaven proclaimed to the shepherds on that first Christmas night, now they sing to us: “A Savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord!”
Again my brothers and sisters, A savior has been born for you — and for me!
This Child lying in his crib is God’s greatest Gift.
So each one of us, will hear these two little words: for you, and all their power. These words should fill us with great hope.
And St. Paul tells us in the second reading:
“We await the blessed hope… the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us.”
This is the beautiful hope of Christmas. This year and every year.
This Child in the crib will die on a Cross for us — to deliver us. This great Gift that is given to us, he will give his own life for us. That’s how much God loves each one of us, dear brothers and sisters.
So Christmas tells us that no matter what’s going on in the world, no matter what’s going in our lives — God is with us and will never leave us. You can always draw near to him, always find his mercy, and especially in your time of need.
So even as we are in these challenging times, we have so many reasons for hope.
Finally this evening, we heard the ancient words of the Psalm:
Announce his salvation, day after day.
Tell his glory among the nations;
Among his peoples, all his wondrous deeds.
Again, these words speak to us in a special way this year — they tell us how we should respond to the troubles and challenges of this year. And we see Mary and Joseph and the shepherds in the Gospel, and God is calling each one of us this evening in a new way to bring Jesus Christ into our world.
That’s our mission, that’s who we are, bringing Jesus to the people of our time by the way we live, by how we think and how we treat other people. God is calling each one of us to tell our neighbors and our loved ones about the beauty of his love. About the reality that we have a savior — the Child who is born of us.
So my brothers and sisters, this Christmas let us open our hearts to his Child. Let him enter into our lives, into our hearts. And let us bring his love into our homes and into our world!
I wish each one of you and your families a blessed and holy Christmas, filled with joy and hope!
Let us ask the intercession of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Blessed Mother, and St. Joseph, may they help us to make the birth of their Son, their Son Jesus, a new beginning — for each one of us and for the whole world.
1. Readings (Mass During the Night): Isa. 9:1-6; Ps. 96:1-3, 11-13; Tit. 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14.