A Cycle – Christmas 16
Jn. 1: 1-15
I do not believe there is any other mass that can compare to Christmas Eve. In many ways it is a sensory overload. The decorations, the music, the carols sung prior to mass, the excitement of families gathering and the general sense that all is well. It is a special night where everything points the way to Jesus Christ. That song refrain which says “…it’s all about you Jesus, it’s all about you” runs through my mind. We must take a moment this weekend no matter what mass you attend and remind ourselves that the birth of Jesus marked the unfolding of God’s plan to restore us. A plan that was so simplistic it was only witnessed by shepherds and strangers.
One would think more prominent individuals would be present at the birth of the coming messiah. The presence of a prophet or two with influence enough to help people understand what the angels were proclaiming would be an advantage. The magi show up later and certainly were impressive in their quest, but they come and go satisfied they have read the prophecies and signs correctly. Did you ever think that this was exactly how God wanted it to be? See it is not all about Jesus it is all about us and God restoring what we lost by the sin of Adam.
What could be simpler for us than to listen to the words of angels and their giving glory to God? It was the fulfillment of the promise of God. The final act in removing the barrier of sin between ourselves and God. The restoration of his creation to our position of sons and daughters, to intimacy with God through the gift of Jesus and of the Spirit.
Our focus goes beyond the manger to the love of God. We are recipients of the promise and are called to be witnesses of that act of love. Tonight, we celebrate something God promised he would do by giving us the means to live holy lives. We celebrate not just the birth of Jesus but the beginning of a process of our own rebirth. The minute we lost paradise because of Adam’s sin; God began a plan that would have us once again standing before him in righteousness. God did not change his plan because Adam and Eve failed but instead made it possible for us to become sons and daughters of his promise by his righteousness and not by our effort to be righteous.
This day celebrates the beginning of God’s plan that would change us and change our relationship with him. God through the Gospel of John tells us “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God.” This is what this night means to us – as Christ was setting aside his glory to be one of us, he clothed us in righteousness so we could focus on responding to his gift rather than spending time offering sacrifices for our failures to avoid sin.
God tells us the key is not in what we are able overcome to become holy men and women, but it is in accepting what Christ did to make us holy men and women. It is so simple we have trouble accepting it. God said, “to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.” God’s decision was that his only Son would set aside his divinity so we would become reborn in the image and likeness of God. This night is about our rebirth into his kingdom.
Look beyond the manger to see the plan of God for your rebirth. Hear the hymns and they proclaim the wonder of God breaking into our lives. Listen to God speaking to you in the readings as he rejoices over your restoration. Feel the presence of those shepherds, witnesses of the plan of God as they sought out the one all the angels were praising. Then seek him out yourself and behold in him the life God promises you.
I invite you do so something simple this weekend. Find and empty box and wrap yourself a present something that will help you focus on the depth of God’s love shown in the gift of his son. It could be a CD of worship songs, a bible, a crucifix or a picture of the Father embracing the prodigal son. What it is does not matter as much as how much it helps you center your thoughts on the gift of God’s love.
Then put it under your tree and do not open it until you are ready to accept and acknowledge that his gift to you is nothing you have earned, but it is given to you because God’s love has been extended to you because his love is greater than our sinfulness.
Then as you open it join in the praise of the angels and shepherds and Adore Him. you will appreciate how much this night means to you and your life as a Son or Daughter of the God who delights in you.