Christmas Homily of Archbishop Michael

CHRISTMAS HOMILY 2012

The Importance and Significance of Celebrating a Birthday

When people really matter to us we attach a significance to the day they were born by sending a birthday card or a greeting.  For over 2000 years Christians have been celebrating the birth of Jesus at this time of the year.  We gather here tonight/today to celebrate Jesus’ birth because his life, death and resurrection have special significance for us and continue to have.

Meaning of Christmas for us… Today

We are here because the words of the angels addressed to the shepherds “today”, in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is “Christ the Lord” – these words are addressed also to us. The birth of this child over 2000 years ago to a young couple in Palestine has consequences for us. We acknowledge that through this child God calls out to each of us in a unique way.  This child was God’s gift not just to one family but to women and men of every generation and to us who gather here tonight/this morning.

The Transformation of Human Nature in the Christmas Story

The gift of God’s presence as a person has radically changed our understanding of ourselves as human beings.  Because of His becoming one with us – human nature has taken on a whole new dignity.  Because of that gift of life – all human beings take on new worth, new value: from the child in the womb, to the mother giving birth, the father who gave life, the person of special needs, the vulnerable elderly person, the terminably ill patient.   From womb to tomb – the sacredness of every moment of our lives is affirmed and blest and redeemed by this great Christmas story that we celebrate with great joy tonight / today.

God With Us – still today – in the Eucharist

The gift that God gave us on that occasion has never been taken back.  True, he lived into adulthood and was put to death – but has been raised from the dead and remains with us today.  God continues to hold out to us the gift of his Son. We are offered that gift every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist.  On that first Christmas night, the body of Jesus was laid in a manger and wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Tonight, the same Jesus is given to us in the Eucharist, under the form of bread and wine and cradled on our tongues.

Incarnation – Christmas – A message of Love

At Christmas we gather to celebrate the good news that we are a people graced by god with the gift of Jesus.  This child speaks to us of God’s unconditional love.  Jesus is given to us by God as light for our darkness, life for our dying, as strength for our weakness, as mercy for our failure, as hope for our losses, as a sure way in our searching.  God gives his Son to us, not because we deserve him, but because we need him, because in the deepest level of our being we long for him.

Message of unchanging Giving

God’s giving never changes.  What changes is our readiness to receive God’s gift.  God does not change; it is we who change. Every Christmas we celebrate the same good news, but each Christmas we who celebrate are different. In the past twelve months, we have all changed in some way.  Some of us may have lost people who are significant for us.  Just as our human relationships change, our relationship with God also changes. This Christmas we are invited to be as open to receive God’s gift of his Son as the Shepherds were on that first Christmas night.

The Message of Christmas Transforming Us

In receiving God’s Son we are called to live as people who have been graced by God in a special way.  God gives us his Son and pours the spirit of his Son into our hearts enabling us to live as God’s sons and daughters.  We show that we have received God’s gift of his Son when we have allowed God’s Son to live out his life in us.  We really celebrate Christmas well when we show the face of Christ to each other.  When God’s love becomes flesh in our lives, as it became flesh in Jesus.  When that happens, people who walk in darkness will see a great light.  This Christmas, we remember with gratitude all those who have shown the face of Christ to us.

Taking the Bright Message of the Good News with us

In Jesus we have the sure proof that God loves us, and we all need to live in the assurance of that love.  The great truth of Christmas is that no matter what happens to us God’s love is not negotiable.  It is never in doubt.  So, tonight/this morning let us celebrate that love which proclaims “I have loved you with an everlasting love”.  And the name of that love is Jesus.  Christmas invites us to take the child with us.  Not to drop him back in the crib when we leave here, but to welcome into our hearts the gift of God in Jesus.

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