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'God has entered into the world'

Homily preached by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at Christmas Mass 2010

Archbishop Thomas Wenski enters into the Cathedral of St. Mary for the celebration of midnight Mass on Christmas.


Archbishop Thomas Wenski enters into the Cathedral of St. Mary for the celebration of midnight Mass on Christmas.

This baby in the manger – so small, so helpless, so vulnerable — this child is the Son of the Most High God. The darkness of a long night – when God seemed so distant and his voice so silent – is lifted by the brilliant glow of a chorus of angels singing joyfully the good news: in Mary’s child, God and sinner would be reconciled.

In Christ Jesus, God has entered into the world –he does so not in a grand style that would intimidate us but in humility. He comes in the poverty of Bethlehem, born of a woman. He comes to us small and weak, so that we can draw near to him without fear, so that we can embrace him without hesitation.

But, he who comes in humility can only be received with humility. This is why simple and unlearned shepherds heard the angels – and obeyed them; whereas King Herod and his advisors, powerful and worldly wise, did not. They were too proud to see God or to hear the angels speak of him.

Dios entra en nuestro mundo para salvarnos del pecado y del llanto. Viene a la pobreza de Belén, nacido de una mujer. Viene pequeño y débil, para que nos pudiésemos acercar a El sin temor, para que pudiésemos abrazarlo sin titubeo.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preaches the homily at Christmas Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary.


Archbishop Thomas Wenski preaches the homily at Christmas Mass at the Cathedral of St. Mary.

The message of Christmas is needed more than ever for today too many people live without hope. They have long forgotten to listen to the angels for they have closed themselves to the Infinite. Like Ebenezer Scrooge, of Dickens’s famous story, “A Christmas Carol,” they live their lives as if God did not matter.

Yet, because of that child wrapped in swaddling clothes, surrounded by animals and ignorant shepherds, we dare to hope.

A causa de ese niño vestido en pobres pañales, rodeado de animales y pastores ignorantes, nos atrevemos a tener esperanza. En el nacimiento de Cristo, la esperanza de la humanidad es restaurada.

Nanpwen Bondye, nanpwen espwa. Konbyen moun ap viv jounen jodi nan dezespwa – epi si yon an dezespwa se paske yo te bliye Bondye. Men, malgre tout peche n yo, tout move wout nou te pran, Bondye pa te bliye nou, li pa te lage nou pou sa. Jodi a, nan Betleyem, kom yon ti bebe Bondye antre nan istwa nou. Li vini tou fèb – li fè sa pou nou ka pwoche kote li pi fasil.

Gen moun ki pè Bondye; gen lòt ki fache avè l, gen lòt pran distans komsi zafè Bondye pa regade yo. Se pou moun sa yo, l ap vini; se pou nou l ap vini kom yon ti bebe – kouman pou nou ta pè l konsa? Kouman pou nou ta ret fache l avè l konsa? Ki jan pou nou gade ti bebe sa, pou nou konprann sa pa regade nou?

Depi Jezi fèt, nou gen dwa gade lavi ak pi plis espwa – paske sila a ki fèk fèt la, se espwa nou li ye,

In the birth of Christ, the hope of mankind is restored. For this reason, today – more than any other day – we can look towards the future with renewed confidence. Despite our sinfulness, despite our greed, our pride, our lust, our envy – these things that are at the root of human misery, poverty and war, we are not lost. God refuses to give up on his creation: it was through love he created us; and in love we are redeemed.

Hoy, más que nunca, miramos hacia el futuro con confianza renovada. A pesar de nuestros pecados, a pesar de nuestra avaricia, nuestro orgullo, nuestra lujuria, nuestra envidia – estas cosas que son la raíz de la miseria humana, de la pobreza y la guerra -- no estamos perdidos. Dios se niega a darse por vencido y para redimirnos asume nuestra naturaleza y se identifica con nosotros en todo – menos el pecado.

God has spoken. And who could have guessed that one day God would speak a word like Jesus? As St. Paul says to Titus, “The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope.” That blessed hope is Jesus in whom we see what God is really like; “grace has appeared” for in Jesus God is pure love freely given.

In his encyclical, Spe Salvi (On Christian Hope), the Pope writes about the convert slave, St. Josephine Bakhita. This woman, born in the Sudan in the late 19th century, experienced the worst of man’s cruelty to his fellowman. Yet, she said that hope came from her encounter with Jesus. The Pope quotes from her journal: “I am definitely loved,” she wrote, “and whatever happens to me – I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.” God’s gift of himself had so transformed her.

Nos atrevemos a tener esperanza porque Dios nos ha dado su Palabra, quien es ahora y por siempre, Emmanuel - Dios con nosotros. La Navidad no se trata solamente del nacimiento de Jesús; pues como nos dice Juan, “Pero a cuantos lo recibieron, les da poder para ser hijos de Dios.” Por lo tanto, la Navidad se trata también de nuestro propio nacimiento en El “no por sangre, ni de amor carnal, ni de amor humano sino de Dios.”

Christmas tells us that, in the words of St. Josephine Bakhita, we are definitely loved. Will we allow God’s gift of himself to transform us? – in order that we too can say — “…whatever happens to me – I am awaited by this Love; and so my life is good”?

God, our Father, has shown his loving goodness to us in the Birth of his only begotten Son – and he calls on each of us to follow his steps and turn our lives – as He did – into a gift of love.

Let us ask God for the grace to look upon the crib with the simplicity of the shepherds – so that their joy will also be ours. Let us ask the Lord for the humility and faith with which St. Joseph gazes upon the child that Mary had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us look upon the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes with the same love with which Mary saw him. Let us ask that the light the shepherds saw will shine on us and what the angels sang that night, “Peace on earth”, will be realized in our world.
View from the choir loft at the Cathedral of St. Mary during the midnight Mass on Christmas.


View from the choir loft at the Cathedral of St. Mary during the midnight Mass on Christmas.

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