Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Today, a Saviour has been born to us!

Christmas Midnight Mass

Many of you have come home for the holidays. Many of you have come home to celebrate Christmas with your family. Many of you are present here because of your loved ones. Tonight is a night that no one wants to be alone. It’s a night we want to be with our loved ones, our family members and friends. It’s a night we want to feel welcomed and a place to belong.

Today, if you are here with your family, friends and loved ones, you are very lucky. It’s not always the same for everyone. It wasn’t like this on the first Christmas night for Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. They too returned to Joseph’s hometown, Bethlehem. But instead of experiencing hospitality and a warm welcome from friends, family and the town’s people, they were turned away. They had no place to call home. They had no friends or relatives to welcome them. They were lonely, tired, hungry, cold and unwelcome on the night the Saviour was born. Jesus was born into a world that did not recognize him or wanted him. Everybody was too busy with their own problems and affairs. No one had time to think about the greatest event in the history of man – the day God became man and was born into this world.

Today, we may also have forgotten about the main reason of our celebration. We may be so caught up with our own needs and desires. We may have been so busy preparing for Christmas by cooking, putting up decorations, caroling, shopping and buying presents that we have forgotten the main reason for today’s celebration. It is Jesus. Are we going to make the same mistake again as the inhabitants of Bethlehem on that first night of Christmas? Have we been so caught up with the darkness of worldly pleasures, the pursuit of riches and fulfillment of our ambitions that we have failed to see the great light of Christ’s coming? Have we been so blind that we do not recognize that Jesus continues to come to us in the form of the poor, the homeless, the elderly, the lonely, the mentally ill, the sick and the weak?

The psalmist calls us to wake up to this beautiful truth: “Today a saviour has been born to us; he is Christ the Lord.” As the Prophet Isaiah foretold long ago: “For there is a child born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him; Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

Today, if you are feeling lonely because your family and friends are not present with you at this mass or at home, rejoice and be glad. Stay close to Jesus. Accompany him on this night. He and his parents too experienced loneliness and rejection. Today, if you feel trapped by your problems and things have not been going so well for you, rejoice and be glad. Jesus, the light of the world, has broken into our darkness. He is our salvation and our liberation. Today, if you feel that you are poor and that you have nothing much to celebrate, rejoice and be glad. Jesus, the Saviour of the World, was also born in a poor manger among animals who were his guardians. His visitors were not the great kings of the earth but poor shepherds who had to work even on such a night. Today, if you are weighed down by sorrow, rejoice and be glad. For our saviour has broken “the yoke that was weighing on (us), the bar across (our) shoulders and the rod of the oppressors.”

Tonight, we are also asked to think not only of ourselves and our own needs. Tonight, we are invited by Christ to think of others, especially those who are poor, the homeless, the elderly, the lonely and the sick. Let us bring this good news today, the good news announced by the angels: “Glory to God in the highest heave, and peace to men who enjoy his favour.” Wishing you all a happy Christmas.

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