Homily for the Nativity of Jesus Christ Year B (CHRISTMAS DAY)
HOMILY THEME: CELEBRATING OUR LOVE STORY VIA (CHRISTMAS OR XMAS?)
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – Is 52:7-10
RESP. PS – Ps 98:1-6
R2 – Heb 1:1-6
GOSPEL – Jn 1:1-18
Soren Kierkegaard told a fable of a king who fell in love with a poor maiden. The king wanted to marry her. When he asked his counselors, “How shall I declare my love?” they answered, “Your majesty has only to appear in all the glory of your royal raiments before the maid’s humble dwelling, and she will instantly fall at your feet and be yours.”
But it was precisely that which troubled the king. He wanted her glorification, not his. In return for his love, he wanted hers, freely given. Finally, the king realized love’s truth, that freedom for the beloved demanded equality with the beloved. So late one night, after all the counselors of the palace had retired, he slipped out a side door and appeared before the maid’s cottage dressed as a servant to confess his love for her.
Beloved in Christ, the above fable is a Christmas story. Christmas is a season of love. God chose to express His love for us humans by becoming one like us. Because, love and relationships do not thrive where there is inequality. God our master and creator, chooses to become our friend and brother in Christ Jesus inorder to save us from the curse of law.
At Christmas, we celebrate this unfathomable and Divine Love for us sinful humans:
_For this is how God loved the world: he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life._ (Jn 3:16).
The culminating point of this great love of God is revealed in _”IMMANU”_ (WITH US) + _”EL”_ (GOD), meaning, “GOD WITH US.” In Emmanuel, the unseen God is seen in human nature.
It is a rare privilege and token of love that calls for jubilation and celebration, because:
(i) The God who hardly revealed His truest identity to a friend like Abraham; a paternal symbol of faith has revealed Himself to us. Abraham only conjectured attributes as Adonai (Gen 15:1) and Elshadai (Gen 17:1), etc., to privatize Him.
(ii) The God who almost hid his truest name and face to a great and faithful leader like Moses has revealed Himself in _”IMMANU + EL”_
When Moses sought to know Him more, he got a more confused revelation “I AM WHO I AM” _”אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה”_ ( _eh·yeh a·sher eh·yeh -_ *ABUM ONYE M BU* ). How comprehendable is that to the intellect and senses? But in Christ Jesus’ seven “I AM’s” it revealed meanings, viz:
~I am the bread of life (Jn 6:35)
~I am the door to the SHEEPFOLD (Jn 10:9)
~I am the light of the world (Jn 8:12)
~I am the good Shepherd (Jn 10:11)
~I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6)
~I am the true vine (Jn 15:1)
~I am the Resurrection and Life (Jn 11:25); it made meaning, appealing to the heart.
Worst still, even when Moses struggled to see his face, the response left him dumbfounded, _”No one sees me and remains alive”_ (Ex 33:20).
(iii) The unseen Eternal Logos by whose authority and ingenuity everything was wrought into being in the creation story, both visible or invisible; the unmoved mover that set everything in motion has taken flesh as revealed in the Gospel of John today.
(iv) As foretold in the second reading, the God who spoke to His cherished generations through prophets and great leaders, is now speaking directly to us through His only begotten son.
This unseen God is revealed in the _”IMMANU”_ (WITH US) + _”EL”_ (GOD) in our own time. The invisible word by whose authority everything came into being, has taken flesh and dwelt among us, with us and for us (Jn 1:14).
It is indeed a memorable and worthwhile great solemnity to celebrate and appreciate God for His love and privilege to our generation. St John testifies:
_We saw it and are giving our testimony, declaring to you the eternal life, which was present to the Father and has been revealed to us. We are declaring to you what we have seen and heard, so that you too may share our life. Our life is shared with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ._
*CHRISTMAS OR XMAS?*
Christmas is a great season of love. Christ is at the centre as the celebrant. We are only to place Christ at the centre, other than celebrating ourselves. For us not to relegate Jesus to the background and celebrate ourselves, we need to pay attention to know if we celebrate in the language of Fr Chidubem Ohaeri, CHRISTMAS OR XMAS. _Celebrating Christmas entails placing Jesus at the centre of every of your activities this period, whereas, those who celebrate Xmas (like.. ex) is contextually and linguistically adopted to represent a Christmas celebration devoid of Christian principles or morality; despite the fact that the “X” in “Xmas” could serve as an abbreviation that is traceable to the Greek “Chi.” Therefore, those who celebrate “Xmas” within this context, place themselves at the centre, celebrating their own selfish achievements, personal agendas, evil wishes, negative promptings and immoral desires that do not please or glorify God._
FOR THOSE WHO CELEBRATE CHRIST, CHRISTMAS MEANS A SEASON OF:
C = CHARITY
H = HOME COMING
R = RECONCILIATION
I = INTEREST
S = SHARING
M = MEETING
A = ACCEPTANCE
S = SOLIDARITY/SOCIALIZING
FOR THOSE WHO CELEBRATE THEMSELVES [XMAS], CHRISTMAS MEANS A SEASON OF:
C = CONFLICT
H = HUMILIATING OUR ENEMIES
R = RETALIATION
I = INTIMIDATION
S = SELFISHNESS /SHOW OFF
T = TROUBLE
M = MADNESS
A = ANARCHY
S = SEXUAL IMMORALITY
So, choose from the scale and know where you fall. Fr Chidubem Ohiaeri summarises _C-H-R-I-T-M-AS_ in these or similar words; *”a season when _C-Christ H-Has C-Come to R-Restore I-Individual (fides qua) S-Salvation.”_ Endeavour to celebrate Him and be rest assured of your own salvation.
Finally, a tale was told of a brilliant young boy called Jacobi, who was always inquisitive. One day, he asked, “what language does God speak?” But no one could answer. He travelled all over his country questioning everyone but could not get a satisfactory answer. Eventually, he set out on a distant lands on his quest. For as a long time he had no success. At length, he came in contact with an old hermit whom he directed the question, “what language does God Speak?” The sage hermit, cleared his throat, while looking upwards like one receiving some message from the heavens and then replied, “The only language God hears and speaks is the language of Love. Go then and speak God’s language by spreading love.”
Beloved, never fail to speak God’s language of love this season by reaching out the the least of Jesus’ brothers: the poor, the hungry, the naked, homeless, prisoners, strangers, unforgiven, rejected, underprivileged, less privileged and physically challenged (Mtt 25:31-46).
MAY JESUS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD ILLUMINE OUR HEARTS AND MIND SO AS TO EXPERIENCE HIM IN THE UNLOVED AND THE SUFFERING DURING THIS FESTIVE SEASON, SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE. AMEN.
*MERRY CHRISTMAS AND REMAIN BLESSED!*
FR GERALD MUOKA