My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
What a joy to celebrate with all of you this Holy Night! Noche Buena. With each one of you and your families, as we welcome you Jesus into our world and into our lives.
We have been getting ready for this night for the last few weeks, during the time of Advent, preparing to remember the beautiful miracle and mystery of Christmas. But Christmas is not just an old story that we tell. Christmas is history.
That’s what St. Luke is saying us in the Gospel that we just heard. He tells us that the first Christmas happened in Bethlehem, in the days of Caesar Augustus, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Why does St. Luke give us those dates of history and geography? He does that so we never forget that Christmas really happened. So we never forget — that at a certain time, in a certain place, God was born among us as a little child.
Our God came to be with us! This is the beautiful reality of Christmas. When you think about it, it’s totally amazing. I think, we could never make up a story like this, not even Hollywood. Beautiful movies in Hollywood, but this is real. Christmas really happened.
The God who created the sun and the moon, the stars and all the earth — the Creator of the universe came down from heaven to be with us. To be our friend. To walk with us. To show us the best way to live our lives.
So that’s the sign that Christmas really happened. The alarm went off.
I was about to say that, as most of you know, I got a blessing this past October as part of the Year of Faith that we had in the Catholic Church. The blessing and special grace to make a pilgrimage with a good number of faithful from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to the Holy Land and to celebrate the holy Eucharist in Bethlehem.
It was amazing to be there in Bethlehem and especially to reflect — that I was standing in the same place that we are hearing about in our Gospel tonight. I was in the place where our Blessed Mother Mary gave birth to her only Son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.
So my brothers and sisters, what we hear in the Scriptures is true! God is with us. He loves us so much.
So as I was saying, it is really true that Christmas happened, because God love us so much that he wanted to share out human life!
And the most beautiful thing is that God knows everything about our lives — all of our joys, our sorrows and our temptations — because he is just like us in everything except in sin. He knows what it’s like to have a job and to work hard. He knows what it’s like to have friends and loved ones. He knows what it’s like to be tired and frustrated, and even angry. He laughed and he cried. And finally, Jesus knows what it feels like to suffer and die.
So this is not all just a beautiful story. It is true. And because Christmas is true.
So tonight we have to remember that Christmas really happened.
And as the prophet Isaiah says in today’s first readings, we also have to understand that it happened because God wants to be with us. And that we are the people the prophet is asking about. For us the child is born, for us God has given his only Son. It is for each one of us — for you and for me — that Jesus comes to earth personally.
And that’s also what St. Paul is talking about in the second reading that we heard tonight: The grace of God has appeared, saving all.
Christmas tells us that God loves all of us — just as a Father loves his little baby. With a precious love. With a tender mercy.
Christmas is history. But it’s also biography. Christmas is the story of your life but it is also the story of our lives — your life and my life. The Son of God came down from heaven to be a child of Mary so that each of us can live here on earth as a child of God.
So let us realize tonight that each of us has a destiny. God has a plan of love for history — and he has a plan of love for each one of us, for you and for me.
And the plan is for us to live like Jesus. That means we can live lives of holiness and beauty — really loving people and serving them, especially the ones most in need. Really opening our hearts to love and to be loved.
So as we have this beautiful celebration tonight, let us love God and walk in his holy light and share his love with everyone we meet.
And let us ask Our Lady of the Angels — to protect our city and our families and to watch over us in this coming New Year.
I wish all of you and your loved ones a Christmas that is filled with joy and peace!
1. Readings (Solemnity of Christmas, Year A): Isa. 9:1-6; Ps. 96:1-3, 11-13; Tit. 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14.