CHRISTMAS: Mass during the Day, (C)
(Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18)
What a wonderful evocation of joy and gratitude Isaiah offers us in the words:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace!
The city had been under long siege and neighbouring towns and cities had been taken and destroyed. Hope was no more in evidence than the almost non-existent and much disputed food, as low as the few pitchers-full of water available from what had once been deep, brim-top-lapping, cisterns. The army had gone out to fight indeed, but they left more in desperation than in expectation; some of the people had cheered them on their way, but the conviction was not there; prayers also had been offered, but with lips that trembled; and now those left inside the city walls waited in silence, with hearts unable to shake off a dark foreboding of what might soon befall them.
Eventually a runner was noticed in the distance by those keeping watch from the protecting walls. He had been expected of course; but, as they caught clearer sight of him, they began to look at one another in disbelief: this runner is running strongly, running confidently; he is not pumping his arms in agonizing effort, he is raising them, waving them exultantly! He is, surely:
Bringing good news, proclaiming salvation!
At such a sight, first of all the watchmen on the towers, then, the citizens within the walls, all in unconscious obedience to those prophetic words of exhortation:
Sing together you waste places of Jerusalem,
broke out into a veritable delirium of thanksgiving and praise, while the priests – with now more firmly solemn voices -- began to intone:
The LORD has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem!!
Dear People of God, Jesus comes to us each year at Christmas like that runner, bringing supreme cause for our total joy: our God reigns over sin and death! Whatever the past year may have witnessed and no matter how miserable our own record might have been over that period, Jesus comes to assure us that:
Our God is King and has bared His holy arm for our salvation!
He comes, as we heard in the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, as One:
Who (is) the brightness of (His Father’s) glory and the express image of His Person.
Therefore, seeing Him, we can be confident and sure that God is able and willing to reign for us, both in us and through us, if we -- for our part -- are humble and brave enough to turn away from ourselves and faithfully turn to Him in all sincerity.
This Christmas rejoicing calls for much more than mere joy of heart, however; for Jesus, as our second reading told us, is:
God’s Son, heir of all things, through Whom also He made the universe; Who upholds all things by the word of His power;
to which St. John, in our Gospel, adds: In Him (is) life, and the life (is) the light of men.
Therefore, Jesus’ coming means not only passing joy for our heart, but fulfilment for the whole of our being, since He is most truly our Lord and Saviour: our Light to guide us, our Hope to sustain us, and our Life that leads to the eternal peace and joy of our heavenly home. His coming manifests and indeed offers to us:
His glory, as of the only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth;
and, by sharing that glory with us, He wills to transform all who believe in Him from human beings subject to sin and death into children of God, as St. John again tells us:
As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
Children reborn, that is, no longer from merely human stock through the will and/or passion of our parents before us, but born anew of water and the Holy Spirit: God’s Fatherly gift expressing to the full His infinite Goodness, and our free will responding with sincerely filial longing by the obedience of faith.
And it is thus -- as children reborn of water and the Spirit -- that we can repeat:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Dear People of God, our right-beholding of the glory of the Word-become-flesh proves that we are indeed already being made like Him and becoming able to see Him as He truly is; that is our share in the glory which is His as the only begotten Son of the Father, a share making us, as the letter to the Hebrews puts it:
So much better than the angels, as we have, by adoption in Him, obtained a more excellent name than they.
And thus, being reborn and renewed in Jesus, and sharing His glory which enables us to live through faith and by His Spirit, our Christmas joy and hope is crowned and completed by the Father Who now says (2 Corinthians 6:18):
I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters.
Once reborn in Jesus with the right to become children of God for all eternity, we have an endowment that our sincere endeavour to live a life of faith and filial love will bring to glorious maturity. Each year Jesus comes to visit us, to see and encourage our progress, and that is why, during Advent, Mother Church cries out to us encouragingly:
Behold, the Bridegroom is coming; go out to meet Him! (Matthew 25:6)
Every Christmas we do just that, we go out to meet the Lord with lighted lamps that shine with love, praise, and gratitude. Ultimately, the time will arrive – and we are now already preparing, at the deepest level, for that time -- when the Lord will come for each and every one of us, calling us from this world as He did Lazarus from the tomb, to meet Himself. Let us, therefore, dear People of God, welcome Him this day as we wish to embrace Him on that our final day, when earth’s fading and fitful light will be transformed into the prospect of eternal glory.