December 25, 2016
Each year we arrive at this time of year. It cannot be skipped. I suppose one could (and so do) choose to ignore the day and its significance. However, either way, there is no way to go thru the year without somehow acknowledging it. In amongst this is the fact, most especially those of us who observe the holiday, that we have come to take the day for granted. Yes, it's Christmas and all that, but aside from maybe attending Midnight or Christmas morning Mass, when do we really pause and think about the day and its meaning to us as Christians?
We go about the day rather nonchalantly opening presents, visiting with friends and family, feasting on the best food offered and even party it up. Yet, we do this almost instinctively and not truly with nearly the reverence that the day is owed. We spend days and weeks preparing for the day, but only in a secular point of view and expression.
We should be excited, but not because we just got the latest and greatest present the world has to offer, but because the Christ child – the incarnation of God – was born this day in the city of David a little over two thousand years ago.
Joseph and Mary must have been beside themselves. Arriving in Bethlehem to discover that there was absolutely not room for them in the inn. Imagine if you came here last night to the pot-luck and I said I had no rum balls! You would all suddenly sit there with your jaws drooping to the floor. Well, Mary and Joseph went through something far more drastic, if we take the time to meditate on their dilemma.
They accept a kind offer to stay in a stable. Imagine if you will, our Lord and Savior – the King of the world – would have to be born in a stable! In that little light of a barn, the Light of the world would be incarnated as man and the glory of the Lord shines forth. Light and glory shine forth in the very humble birth of the Son of God, who is Christ the Lord.
Christmas tends to bring the best out in people usually, at least with few exceptions anyway. It may have been the light of this first Christmas that may have influenced the innkeeper to give all that he had left to a family to use; to a family in who the mother was very obvious to the point of giving birth. We hear God's revelation of salvation and respond to the light when we perform actions of kindness, no matter how small. Christmas brings out generosity and many try to make room for someone else in their respective inns.
Christmas is so much more. Christmas should be a time when we are in awe and wonder. We should be looking at our world, most especially as Catholic Christians, and seeing God in it all. We are miserable people, truthfully. No amount of proof would do; especially in an ever increasing atheistic and agnostic world. We need this light of Christ ever so much more than before.
How do we love? How do we hate? How do we smell? Without that sense of smell, how do we completely taste, much less taste at all? How do we see? How do we hear? How do we feel? Just how do we do all these things? Science can explain the mechanics, but I have yet to be convinced they can explain the origin of these senses and emotions any more than the rest of us here.
We marvel at our planet earth and the mysteries of its origin perfection at sustaining itself and those inhabiting it. We have telescopes that see the universe and galaxies yet to be fully explained. Scientists say they have found planets or stars like the very one we live on. How did they get there? Why are they there? How did they manage to be so seemingly perfectly round? How is it we have not found more life? How/why? How/why? How/why?
One large bang did this, they say. If that is the case, then let me light a firecracker and see if a dog materializes before us. How about another firecracker that will produce a lung for someone waiting for a transplant? Am I making a mockery of science? I suppose it depends on the point of view. Surely the non-believing scientists do the same of those of us that believe in a divine being who we say created it all. My eyes work in this way or that; my ears, my mouth, etc. because of that firecracker that just made all organisms and life in such great and technical detail. Simplistic argument I admit, but still very truthful to those of us with faith.
No, most of us who come here today believe in something far more powerful than that. We can't explain it, we simply have faith. We look around us and see miracles, not big bangs. We see an intelligent agent behind it all, beckoning us to walk toward Him; toward the light. In our perfectly designed bodies that our souls imperfectly inhabit.
And so we come to this day. We come to this day because God is trying to catch our attention. He put a star in the sky that was said to be brighter than all others combined. Some historical records exist that do give some validation to an astronomical phenomenon that can be traced to approximately the time that most historians believe Christ was born in correlation to our Scriptural time frames. Whether it was a “shooting star” as some may say or some other astronomical event, something certainly took place. Too much time has passed to prove or disprove, I suppose, to a scientific satisfaction. But those of us of faith need little more. And so, God put this star to lead the shepherds to the light, on through to our modern time. God put Angels in the path of these shepherds to convince to go see what wonderful event was taking place.
We need this light. We need another chance. Christ is the light. Christ is a second chance. God doesn't want to force anything on us. We have the gift of free will. He wants us to freely choose him. He wants us to cooperate with him. He wants us to work as a team.
As an example there are some people who have been married many years. Sometimes, so very long many years. This does not come by chance. It does not come with some big bang. It takes work. It takes cooperation. And it sometimes takes second chances. Sometimes trouble comes into relationships and marriages. Sometimes something pulls them apart. Sometimes for a short while. And sometimes forever.
In some cases, one or both parties of the couple seek second chances. Doesn't matter if they were wrong, right or neither. Love knows no end. Love knows no boundaries or even any ego. When true love exists, couples still seek each other out. Sometimes one or both parties have hurt each other; sometimes it is only one who did most of the hurting. Yet, when love exists, one or both will seek the other out – all for that second chance.
Sometimes one of the two parties may mourn the loss and pray each day for a chance for the other to come back. And when that chance is given, many will jump at that chance. It no longer matters who was wrong, if either really ever were. It only matters that the love that once was aflame has been rekindled and vows are retaken and given. They will try all the more than before to make it work, even the one who may not have been the one in wrong when and if a wrong existed. Second chances are what we live for in marriages built on love. Second chances are the prodigal sons of modern day relationships.
Christmas is our second chance. Our second chance with God. Christmas is God coming to us under the disguise of a human child. The incarnation of God as man. All to give us a light to behold. All to give us a second chance. God loves us without end or limit. No wrong or sin can ever make God stop loving us. He is always begging us to take Him back. He knocks on the doors of our souls continuously trying to get us to rejoin ourselves to our divine spouse and creator.
We are imperfect beings created by a perfect God. We decided to test God in the Garden of Eden and we have done so ever sense in some fashion. Original sin or simple imperfect humanity. Regardless of the theological explanation, we are all a bit disconnected from God. We are all in some way contributing to a separation or divorce that should not be. We demanded freedom and free will and God gave it to us. We wanted a divorce; and in a simplistic way, God gave us a separation, but refuses to give the divorce. He doesn't believe in it.
God wants us to come to Him and ask for that second chance. He gives us that opportunity every Christmas. So here we are, some of us mere “Chresters”, trying to make a go of finding God again; finding that light that was in all of us from the beginning of time. A second chance for yourself; a second chance for someone else; or even a second chance for someone who is merely an acquaintance. Probably most of all is the second chance for yourself. God sometimes simply wants you to give yourself a second chance, by giving God that second chance in your life. God will light the way.
Lastly, always remember that each time we respond to God and conform our own will to the divine will, Christmas happens. Each time we reach out to those in need, Christmas happens. Each time we take time to be present to another, Christmas happens. In all these and in countless other simple acts of putting others ahead of ourselves, we lift ourselves to join in the song of the heavenly host, that unceasing chorus of praise and glory. Glory to God in the highest. In all these ways of acting in the light of this Light, we extend the glory of Christmas into every day. We could all use a Christmas miracle. Maybe if we let in a little of His light, we just all might get one!
Let us pray.
Father God, you sent your Son into the world, born of a woman, into a perfect world gone sour my human touch. You sent your Son to reach out to the many people you call your own. You sent your Son to be a light and beacon for second chances and even for faith in a Christmas miracle or two.
Help us all to see the light of the Christ child this Christmas, and most importantly, that we give ourselves a second chance by giving you a chance in our lives by allowing the Christ child to illuminate our lives in such a ways as to help bring us closer to You and thus closer to who we are all meant to be in Your image. We may be surprised to learn that Your will has been something similar to what we wanted all along, but simply failed to put You in the center of the need or desire.
Finally, Lord God, fill us in a profound way with Your light this Christmas, in a way that not even your worst skeptic can refute. That could be the first of many more Christmas miracles to come. We ask all this through Christ our Lord. Amen
God Love You +++
+The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.