Homily for the Christmas Day 2022: The nativity of the Lord

Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina

(Is 52: 7-10; Ps.98; Heb,1,1-6; John 1,1-18).

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God: For on this day, “a child is born for us, and a son is given to us; his sceptre of power rests upon his shoulder, and his name will be called Messenger of Great Counsel, Emmanuel, God is with Us”. I welcome you to our Christmas day reflection +

Today, the 25th day of December 2022, we celebrate the solemnity of the nativity of the Lord, which already started in the Vigil or Midnight Mass. We have prepared for this day by undergoing a 4 weeks of spiritual exercises guided by the prophetic utterances from both the Old and New Testaments that characterise the season of ADVENT.

Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is a very important event in salvation history. For without the incarnation of the Word of God in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there could not have been his passion, his crucifixion and his death on the cross for our salvation. Therefore, today the entire universe rejoices because a child is born for us, a son is given to us. He is Emmanuel – God is with us!

Christmas is the celebration of the Word of God that took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The implication is that the word of God is more than signs or symbols. The word of God is far more than prophetic utterances in the Bible. The Word of God is incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. God has come to dwell with us so that we could touch him, feel him, have relationship with him, receive or reject him, love or hate him.  

Christmas is the fulfilment of the promise of restoration of what was lost (Luke 19,10). Christmas is a celebration of a mystery – the invisible God taking a human form. Yes, the Child born for us today is the Mighty God. He is the Prince of Peace! Yes, the Child born for us, in all its weakness and neediness, is the Eternal Father! Therefore, the central message of Christmas is LOVE and HUMILITY. God’s love and humility is concretely demonstrated in his self-abasement, taking the form of a helpless child, born in a manger (Luke 2,7), visited by lonely shepherds (Luke 2,15), acclaimed by heavenly Angels saying: “Glory be to God in the Highest and peace on earth to those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2,14).

Prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading exclaimed: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation and saying to Zion, your God is King” (Isaiah 52,7). This positive and affirmative exclamation is most fitting to the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. He, indeed, is the Good News per excellence! He is the love, mercy, justice, compassion, forgiveness of God in human flesh. The name Jesus in Hebrew language, “yeshuah” simply means God’s Salvation, God saving love, – Immanuel, “God with us”.

Christmas celebration all over the world today is highly commercialised. A commercialised Christmas have the possibility of rubbing us the opportunity of a deeper reflection on the “Light of Christ” which came to dispel the darkness of our world. The beautiful decorations, the glittering lights, the noisy street music, the endless church revivals; and not excluding, the political rallies and jamborees going on in our country, Nigerian in preparation for a democratic election in February 2023 could turn distract and our minds away from the true meaning of Christmas – “Divine Simplicity” expressed in profound love and humility. God appears in a form of a tender Child in a manger, so that we are able to recognize him in the poor and needy, in the vulnerable and excluded persons, within the family and on the crowded streets, in the prisons or in the refugee camps, in the sick and in the lowly. Therefore, it is only through sincere love and purest humility that we truly celebrate Christmas and abide in its true Joy and Light.

Drawing inspiration from the remodelled narrow doorway of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, reminds us that anyone wishing to enter the place of Jesus’ birth has to get off the high horse of ‘self-importance’. We must set aside our false sense of security in sin; take off our intellectual pride; we must be ready to lay aside our outrageous selfish attitude to life that often prevent us from recognising God’s presence in ourselves and in others, especially in the poor and the needy.

Like God who conceals himself in the humanity of a new-born baby, each one of us celebrating Christmas this year must bend down and spiritually go on foot in order to pass through the gate of faith and encounter God in the many vulnerabilities of human society, in the homeless, in beggars walking on our streets, in the refugees traumatised in the camps, in children abandoned by parents, in the sick, in the elderly people left uncared for in our homes, hospitals and hospices.

Indeed, Christmas celebration means more than just attending liturgical services in churches today. Christmas means more than a festival of food and drink. Christmas must be for me and you an opportunity to reflect on and demonstrate how God continues to bend low in love in you and me; how God continues to fight injustice in our society through me and you; how God continues to stand with the marginalized, extend compassion to the broken-hearted, forgiving people in our lives who trespass against us. 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is only when we become stewards of Humility, champions of Justice, extensions of God’s Love and mercy that we truly celebrate a meaningful Christmas. May the peace on earth announced by the Angels, that Jesus is, be with you. I wish you a grace-filled Christmas celebrations. +