My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Merry Christmas to all of you. We gather this evening for this special celebration of joy. Good news of great joy. And it is a special joy to be with all of you this evening for this beautiful celebration.
This Holy Night, the Noche Buena, as we welcome the Child Jesus into our world and into our lives.
It is a celebration that we rejoice with the universal Church and with the whole world for the nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And as I was thinking, reflecting on the readings of today’s Sacred Scripture, I was coming to the realization that Christmas really changed everything.
These Scriptures we have just heard paint a beautiful picture of a world that is being totally transformed: Darkness is scattered and a great light shines through the gloom. Ancient burdens are lifted and people in slavery are set free. There are great lights and angels singing in the sky. Battles are ending and peace is coming into the world.
It is a beautiful, joyful picture. And this is Christmas.
Christmas is a new morning for creation, and it is a new dawn for every person. Today, heaven and earth come together. The human and the divine are united in this Child that we find lying in the manger, wrapped by his mother in swaddling clothes.
The prophet Isaiah told us in tonight’s first reading: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.”
And I was also struck by these words: Born to us. Given to us.
Christmas changes everything! Christmas is for us! All this beauty, all this love — it is all for us and for our salvation. This Child in the manger is God’s gift to the world, his gift to each one of us. We might say that Jesus is “the first Christmas present.”
Isn’t it for us now Christmas about presents? Well, guess what, Jesus is the first Christmas present.
Tonight we remember that our father gives us the gift of his only Son so that all men and women can find him and find love and happiness, joy and hope for heaven.
And Christmas is also the day of mercy for the whole world. The day of salvation for all people and for every person.
So tonight, we especially pray for the lonely, the poor, and the lost. For those who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus and for those who are separated from their families. And for all the victims of violence and terrorism in our cities and throughout the world. It is a special pray that, I’m sure, comes from the bottom of our heart to pray for those brothers and sisters that are in a special need.
But today, we also rejoice in the realization that God’s mercy makes us a new people. God comes to us as a child to show us that we are his children. He comes to us as a Son to show us that we have a father who loves us.
This is also part of that beautiful mystery of Christmas.
Christmas, as I said, changes everything. Christmas is for us and Christmas makes us understand that we are really children of God.
So tonight, we need to come to the manger and claim that gift that God comes to offer us.
As we heard that the Angel said to the shepherds in the passage of today’s Gospel.
The Angel said to them,
“Do not be afraid,
for behold I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people
for today, in the city of David, a savior has been born for you
was Christ the Lord.
In the gift of Jesus, God’s heart is open to us. And his heart is a heart of love, a heart of mercy.
Christmas is really the great Feast of Divine Mercy. Christmas says to each one of us, God wants to be your father. God wants to hold you in his tender arms — just as our Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph held Jesus on that first Christmas night.
In this child, in the manger, God comes to us in gentleness and kindness. So there is no reason for any of us to feel nervous or afraid.
My dear brothers and sisters, let us never doubt God’s tender mercy for each one of us. Let us tonight renew our conviction that God is our father, that we are his children — sons and daughters of God — and he loves each one of us with an extraordinary love. He knows us, he cares for us, he’s close to us, and he wants us to be happy.
Pope Francis says that “God never tires of forgiving us.” And it is true! The Pope tells us “God’s joy is in forgiving.”2 So we can never say: “I am not good enough or I’m not worthy of God’s love.” So many times we judge ourselves harder than God judges us! But God knows us. He knows our weaknesses and he knows our virtues — the good things we have in our lives.
He knows us perfectly.
So today, let us go to the manger, to the child in the manger. Let us open our hearts to the child who shows us the father.
And as we all know, we are celebrating a special Jubilee Year of Mercy in the Church, so let us really seek to love God more and seek his mercy. And let us try to live with his mercy in our lives — to be loving and merciful with others as he is loving and merciful to us.
Let us try to bring his light, and his compassion, and his peace to our world — to our brothers and sisters, to our families, to our society.
In the same way, that today we contemplate God’s love for us, let us go out and try to share that with our brothers and sisters everywhere — at home, at work, in every single aspect of our relationships with the people that we live with.
So let us never forget that Christmas changes everything, the Christmas is for us, Christmas makes us children of God.
And with that, we will change the world. I hope that Mary our Blessed Mother watch over you and give you Christmas joy everyday — the joy that comes in finding the love of God and knowing his mercy. And I’m sure, that with the help of the grace of God, feeling that extraordinary love of God for each one of us, we all will have a holy and merry Christmas.
1. Readings (Mass During the Night, Year C): Isa. 9:1-6; Ps. 96:1-3, 11-13; Tit. 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14.
2. Angelus (March 17, 2013); General Audience (December 9, 2015).