Saturday, December 24, 2016
A Christmas Homily: Because God had a plan
Salvation history. That is why we are here on this holy day/night. From the nanosecond humanity turned away from God through sin, God had a plan. He could not dismiss us as beyond hope nor could he ignore that we had turned on Him, preferring to be our own gods. However, he had a plan.
In the Gospel we here of that plan unfolding over millennia, as we hear the genealogy of Jesus Christ. I this list of names, in this list of fathers and sons, we see God's plan unfold. From humanity He plucks a people to be his own, sprung from the most unlikely of sources: a couple unable to have children, Abraham and Sarah. From the beginning of this genealogy we see this couple grow into a family, from the family comes a tribe, from the tribe comes a people, from the people a nation, and through Jesus, from a nation into the His Body, the Church.
The road from Abraham is bumpy though. It is filled with men of great faith and men of great sin. Even the men of great faith fall, as did the great king David, as the genealogy lets us know. As the plan unfolds, God's plan is not deterred or thwarted by man. It marches along. God's plan marches from Ur of the Chaldeans to Bethlehem. It is that stable, born to a poor couple, in the most modest of circumstances that the plan of God reaches its zenith. The Host of angles proclaims that a child is born who will restore what was lost through sin. The Word has been made flesh and dwelt among us! He comes not as our means of destruction, but as our means of eternal life.
We call this stunning part of God's plan the Incarnation. The Incarnation is the great mystery that God should so love us that He send His only Son, who becomes one of us in all things but sin. Today we celebrate that the Incarnate God is born into this world, a message of great joy and hope for a weary and darkened world. He burst into human time and space and shatters its darkness. The second person of the Trinity is given this body born in Bethlehem because through the obedience of Jesus, that same body would be offered on a cross only miles away in Jerusalem. The Incarnation happens because the Crucifixion and Resurrection must. It is through these mysteries that we are given the promise and chance of a new life, an eternal life.
As millennia have passed since that night in Bethlehem, we are given a continual feast from the Body of that Incarnate God through the Eucharist. The Eucharist is that ongoing participation in the life of the Incarnate God. IN our being here week in and week out, we are given a share in that great gift given by God, starting with the Incarnation itself and going through the Last Supper and beyond. This is not to say we will not be continually tempted away from this gift. I saw a post today about a young child was talking with a sibling; they were talking about Adam and Eve and the younger sibling says he wouldn't have taken the apple...a cinnamon roll yes...but not an apple. Satan will tempt us away from life in Christ with whatever works. Let us not surrender the heritage given to us through the Incarnation for the baubles and bells of this world.
This celebration calls us into a way of life. It is a way of life marked by our love of God and love of neighbor. The mystery of the Incarnation should stir within us a desire, a hunger, and longing for something more than what we see. We are given the Eucharist every week so as to fuel this longing and help us by God's grace to take our part in God's ongoing plan. You see, salvation history doesn't end with the birth at Bethlehem, or even the death and resurrection, it continues through the animation of the Holy Spirit through the Church until Christ comes again. We each play a part in that role of salvation history in living in such a way as to live in the light of Christ and draw others into that same light.
For let us be honest, the world still is weary, weary from its own addiction to sin and vice. The light of Christ is needed to shatter that darkness as did the Star of Bethlehem. The chains still need to undone in many people's lives. Brothers and sisters, let us properly celebrate this Christmas season, which begins today and revel in the relationship God offers us through Christ, commit ourselves to that life as Jesus has told us, and give the greatest gift we can: the gift of the Incarnate God whom we celebrate today. God has a plan...you're part of it. You were baptized into it. You are its ambassador. Be, by the grace of God, a worthy ambassador.
May the Lord abundantly bless you in the Christmas Season!