Fr. Charles Irvin Christmas Mass [A] 2010
Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
While Christmas is delightful for children and it is nice that we get caught up in their joy, Christmas is something that we adults vitally need. We celebrate Christmas this difficult year with dark clouds of terrorism looming over our heads. The gloom of the recession darkens our spirits. Our broken governmental establishment in Washington spends our future incomes on earmarks attached to spending bills that stagger our comprehension. Joblessness and hunger are not confined to Third World countries, they stalk our own populace. Amidst all of this darkness let there be light. I give you the message of the angels.There is also another darkness that afflicts many of us – an inner darkness of spirit, of heart, and of soul. Many folks have spoken to me about the pace of life in which they live, a pace that robs them of quiet time with their souls. Seemingly helpless they dash from one event to another, from one task to another, all the while harboring a sense that they no longer know who they are and what their life is all about. Some feel that their lives are lived in a dark hole of meaninglessness. They know they should regularly attend Mass but they just don’t seem to have time for very many Sunday Masses in their lives, Masses in which for a few brief moments they hear the Word of God spoken to them. Hopefully some of them are here with us now and feel welcomed. Amidst the dark hole of meaningless let there be light. I give you the message of the angels.Finally there are a few people we hear from who tell us that they want nothing to do with God. Their darkness is so profound that they cannot even see that they live in darkness. A famous saying applies to them: “There are none so blind as those who think they see.” Jesus had His greatest difficulties with such people. Amidst that darkness let there be light. I give you the message of the angels.The great joyful news of Christmas is that God has given us light, His Light, in which we can see reality as He sees it, a light in which we can see and love ourselves and others as He sees and loves us. That is something that is quite stupendous, a light so powerful that it cuts through all of the gloomy clouds of darkness looming over us. We are here to celebrate that light, the light of the coming of God to us in the loveliness of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus in the manger.To be sure, I believe that it is good, even necessary, that we soak ourselves in all of the joyful aspects of celebrating Christmas. We need to hear the carols, the jingle bells, and the beautiful hymns of Christmas, especially this year. Our eyes should feast on the lights and decorations of our Christmas trees. We need to sit down with our children, our relatives, and our friends at our Christmas dinner tables listening to all of their stories while feeling the love and closeness of those who are dear to our hearts. But I am equally sure that the heavenly light of Bethlehem’s star is a light from heaven bidding us to see and then receive the Gift that God our Father in heaven is offering to us in a Child lying in a manger surrounded by the miraculous love of God for us. St. John wrote his Gospel account to tell us who Jesus Christ really is. In order to accomplish that purpose John prefaced his gospel by introducing Jesus Christ to us. Said he: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.We live our lives swimming in an ocean of words, words coming to us through TV, cell phones, i-pads, computers, and in a wild array of other means. All of those things bid us to give them our attention. Allow me to gently suggest to you that God has a Word for you; He has something He wants to say to you. I know you and I need to listen to it and hear what God is offering us. To miss that opportunity is to miss what Christmas is really all about. In biblical imagery God’s invitation, God’s gift to you, comes in a night that is silent and still, a night that is not darkness but rather is filled with a special light. God’s gift to you is not something that is merely sentimental, it is essential. The birth of the baby Jesus sanctifies every birth of every child. The life of Jesus sanctifies every life. Because of Christ’s birth your birth has eternal significance and meaning. Can we hear God’s word and recognize God’s gift with hearts and souls that are receptive? To be receptive we need to see a reality that hear a message that is deeper than all that commercial Christmas dangles before our eyes and jingles in our ears.I want read a letter to you now, a letter written to a noblewoman friend by a Renaissance priest named Fra Giovanni on Christmas Eve in the year 1513.I am your friend and my love for you goes deep. There is nothing I can give you which you have not got, but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in today. Take heaven!No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach is joy. There is radiance and glory in the darkness could we but see – and to see we have only to look. I beseech you to look!Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by the covering, cast them away as ugly, or heavy or hard. Remove the covering and you will find beneath it a living splendor, woven of love, by wisdom, with power.Welcome it, grasp it, touch the angel’s hand that brings it to you. Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me, that angel’s hand is there, the gift is there, and the wonder of an overshadowing presence. Our joys, too, be not content with them as joys. They, too, conceal diviner gifts.Life is so full of meaning and purpose, so full of beauty – beneath its covering – that you will find earth but cloaks your heaven.Courage, then, to claim it, that is all. But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are all pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.And so, at this time, I greet you. Not quite as the world sends greetings, but with profound esteem and with the prayer that for you now and forever, the day breaks, and the shadows flee away.May you have a very Merry Christmas. And may you be blessed this Christmas in a very special way by receiving all that God wants to give you in this Christmas and in all of the days that follow. God loves you. Receive God’s Son and open His gift to you.