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Homilies | Friday, December 24, 2021

Jesus' birth: sure proof that God loves us

Archbishop Wenski's homily at Christmas Eve Mass 2021

Archbishop Thomas Wenski preached this homily while celebrating Christmas Eve Mass at St. Mary Cathedral, Dec. 24, 2021.

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Isaiah’s words find their fulfillment on this holy night, this silent night — for Jesus is the light that brightens the darkness of our world.

Without that light which we have received through the gift of faith, we cannot understand God and his loving plan for us; nor can we truly understand ourselves, who we are, why we are. The Fathers of the Second Vatican Council insisted: “It is only in the mystery of the Word made Flesh that the Mystery of humanity truly becomes clear” (Gaudium et Spes, No. 22).

Today’s world needs that light more than ever — because without that light we do not know how to live, we do not know how to be human. Without that light, we can become like the character Scrooge in Dickens’ famous novel, who thinks the value and worth of people is measured by what they have and not for who they are, creatures made in the image and likeness of God. Without that light, we can become like Herod who believed, like so many of this world’s kings and rulers still believe today, that might makes right: He massacred the Holy Innocents in a vain effort to advance his self-interests.

Without that light of Christ, people today trample on the rights of the vulnerable, the weak, the poor, sacrificing them on the altars of expedience, on the altars of their own self-indulgence. Without that light of Christ, that of the same Christ Child who in his mother’s arms and under the protection of his foster father Joseph crossed into Egypt as a faceless, and undocumented, refugee, we will not see the other in need as a brother or sister but only as an alien threat.

Frè ak sè m yo, si nanpwen Bondye, nanpwen espwa. Konbyen moun ap viv jounen jodi nan dezespwa – epi si yo 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, li vini tou; se pou nou li vini.  Li fèt 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.

Tonight, the light of Christ dispels the darkness and warms the coldness of our hearts as the love of God for each of us shows itself in the fragile bundle of the child Jesus. And, as the child Jesus reveals God’s love for us, his outstretched hands invite our love in return.

In Jesus God became flesh: He draws near to us so that we can draw near to him. Given our own human limitations, we can only love what we can get our arms around. To love we need a particular name, a particular face, a particular person — and we have God’s particulars in Jesus.

Like Mary and Joseph at Bethlehem we can all get our arms around the child from Bethlehem. In Jesus we have sure proof that God loves us. The assurance of that love is what makes life even in this valley of tears worth living. For the truth of Christmas is that no matter what happens to us, God’s love is not negotiable, it is never in doubt.

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.

And so, on this holy night, this silent night, we move towards the light. We go to the cave of Bethlehem, or in the words of Chesterton, “To the end of the way of the wandering star, to the things than cannot be and that are, to the place where God was homeless, and all men are at home.” 

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