The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Mass during the Night
December 25, 2016
Reading 1IS 9:1-6
Responsorial PsalmPS 96: 1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13
- (Lk 2:11) Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord.
- Reading 2TI 2:11-14
- Alleluia, alleluia.
- GospelLK 2:1-14
- Click here to LISTEN to homily
Homily— December 25 & 26, 2016
Merry Christmas! This is such a wonderful celebration of family, friends and faith and we often try to share that perfect gift with someone special in our lives. I would like to give a book to each family who is present at this Mass. It is titled “Resisting Happiness” and is written by Matthew Kelly. Here is a short quote from the book which also quotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “We yearn for happiness because we are created for happiness. ‘The desire for God is written in the human heart because man is created by God and for God’ and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for (CCC, 27).’”
Presents are great to receive but it is always good to remember that we will always be looking for something more. I call that something more eternal life with God in heaven but we really don’t know what that life is like. I have started reading “Imagine Heaven” by John Burke which is about near-death experiences. Here is an excerpt from Hazeliene from Singapore who blacked out, hit her head, and apparently “died.” “She explains in English (not her native language),
I suddenly was in the very dark tunnel going up, up, up. . . After passing through from that very dark tunnel, it has changed to very bright light. I had seen a very bright light, I thought it was sun, but it was not. I don’t have an idea where that light came from. Someone spoke to me for a while, I heard, and that voice came from that light. You know what I felt when I saw that light? When I saw that bright light, I felt that someone loves me very much (but no idea who it was). I was very overwhelmed with that bright light. And while I was there, I felt the love, and that love I never felt before. That light welcoming me very warmly and loves me very much. My words to the light before I [revived] was this: I wanted to stay here, but I love my two kids. When I said this, I suddenly woke up. . . Was it true that the light was GOD? Reason why I felt very overwhelmed? I felt that only that light ever love me and no one does. All people know only to beat me, hurt me, criticized me, offended me and many more. Nobody love me like that kind of love before. How I wish, my two kids and me could go there and feel that love forever.”
I am a bit of a sceptic on near-death experiences but I do like it when what people experience is in accord with what I would expect heaven to be like. They struggle to express what has happened to them. One person said “There are no human words that even come close”. Another said “What I saw was too beautiful for words.” A third person said “There are no words to express His divine presence.” Do take time to try to imagine what heaven is like in your mind. Perhaps when we enter into the true meaning of Christmas we get close to heaven. God has sent His Son to earth to live like one of us. He comes to an obscure place in a time without our modern means of communication. Who would have thought that our Savior would be born in a manger away from home and now dependent upon the love and care of Mary and Joseph. The angels make the birth announcement to the shepherds. In Luke’s time, shepherds were dangerous outsiders who lived rough lives in the wilderness. They interacted uneasily with people in cities and towns. I would expect them to have a love of the outdoors and the night sky and that they would appreciate this child who brings peace and love along with the challenge of the cross. God loves us so much that he sent His Son who forgives us in confession and welcomes us back and walks with us on our journey of life. When we find that the presents don’t satisfy us look to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ to bring meaning to your life. This relationship will also bring us closer to our loved ones who have died. May we all grow in our ability to love God and each other better.