Sermon 12: Second Sunday after Christmas (B)
Christian parents who opt to thus help their child discover and develop its own potentialities, hope that their son or daughter may thereby become a more fulfilled human-being, gratefully aware of and able to rejoice in the exercise of his or her own talents and embrace the ensuing responsibilities.
Now that second choice, People of God, is close to the option chosen by God the Father in our regard.
In the third preface of Christmas at Mass this morning we heard: “So marvellous is this oneness between God and man that, in Christ, Man restores to man the gift of everlasting life.” We, that is, were originally created in the image and likeness of God. But the Devil, having been thrown down from heaven, and -- for his own purposes -- wanting others to share his personal sense of, loss, anger, and frustration, others -- earthly beings called humans – whom he most truly hated because of their utterly ludicrous aspirations to the heaven he had lost, through a so-called messiah, others over whom he could exercise his angelic power and authority to vent his hatred and frustration. And so, he decided to make fools of those weak and worthless humans, first of all through Eve the more talkative and gullible one, and then through her, Adam: and thus, he led them to disobey God, by swallowing – quite literally – his, the Devil’s bait. Sin and death thereby entered our earthly creation and we lost our eternal inheritance.
Now, God could have just given us back that which we had lost; to put it in common and vulgar language which will, I hope, help to underline the point I am making, God could have said: “Come on you wretches, you don’t deserve it and you’d never earn it, but I’ll give it you, I’m good.”
But the fact is, People of God, that the Father in His great love for us, also respected us, and wanted us to be worthy possessors of His gifts, so that we could really say, “They are truly mine”. And this we can now say in Jesus, as St. John tells us (1 John 4: 9-10):
In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we might have life through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins.
God, that is, most lovingly and most deliberately, chose that His only-begotten Son should become Man that, as Man, He could overcome on our behalf, both the Devil and the sin we had admitted into the world: then we -- as human beings, and believing members of Jesus, God-become-Man -- might be able to say, “God’s gift of eternal life is truly ours, because Jesus -- One of us -- has won it for us”.
Why did God the Father choose that option? Because God’s LOVE is, so to speak, strongly laced with RESPECT: Adam God commanded to love his wife, and Eve He commanded to respect her husband. God the Father, because He is Father, totally, infinitely, perfectly, Father, willed to help us get back for ourselves that which we had wrongly allowed ourselves to be deprived of. He did not want, that we who had been made in His own image and likeness, should ever possess that of which the Devil could say “It is not theirs really, I took it from them; they only have it now because He, the God I hate, gave it back to them: but it is not really their own.”
Therefore He sent His only-begotten Son to take on human flesh from the only righteous one living in the earthly city (cp. Abraham and Sodom), Mary of Nazareth, and through her He gave us His Word made flesh, as our Saviour, so that not only could humankind have the dignity of being worthy of eternal life, but that you and me, each one of us individually, might also be able to earn that dignity in Jesus, because you and I – God-fearing disciples of Jesus – can now, in the power of His Spirit, overcome the Devil, spurn his deceits, and win back self-respect as children of God. Indeed, so much is this the case that the Blessed Virgin Mary -- as our Jesus-gifted-mother -- has already done this, in the power of His most Holy Spirit, to the extent that in Heaven she is above all angels and archangels, all principalities and powers; and, although being by nature totally human, she is now, for the glory of God, Queen of Heaven and all the angelic hosts:
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
This is the glorious mystery our Christian faith, that, as St. John told us in the Gospel reading:
No man has ever seen God; it is the only begotten Son, Who is nearest to the Father’s heart, Who has made Him known.
And, again as St. John tells us:
To all who accepted Him, He gave power to become children of God, to all those who believe in His name (as the Son of God), born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
People of God, our faith permeates the whole of our life because it is our glory; let us close now with the words of St. Paul contained in our second reading today:
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. May the eyes of your heart be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory in His inheritance among the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, in accordance with the exercise of His great might which He worked in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things beneath His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body.