Homily for the Christmas Day: The nativity of the Lord

“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” Is 9:5

…And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end Amen.

(Christmas Day readings: Is 52: 7-10; Ps.98; Heb,1,1-6; Jn 1,1-18)

Today is Christmas Day, the solemnity of the nativity of the Lord that we long awaited and prepared for with the 4 weeks of the Advent Season. The beautiful and mysterious Christmas is here with us. Today, we celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.

We proclaim to the whole world that the Word of God became flesh to dwell among us. Without the incarnation of the Word of God in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, there wouldn’t be the great joy of the season and the celebrations out there. Without Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, there couldn’t have been his Passion, death and resurrection. Therefore, Let us all rejoice in the Lord for today, a child is born for us, a son is given to us; his scepter of power rests upon his shoulder, and his name is Emmanuel, God is with Us.

As we celebrate the Word of God that became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are reminded that the Word of God is more than a sign or a symbol. The word of God that we celebrate is the person of Jesus Christ. He is Emmanuel – God dwelling in and with us, so that we could touch him, feel him, have relationship with him, receive or reject him, love or hate him as the case may be. Hence, the central message of Christmas is that God has fully revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, born for us today in Bethlehem of Judea.

In today’s first reading, Prophet Isaiah proclaims: “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” (Isa 52,7). This passage is most fitting to the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is indeed the Good News per excellence! He is the love, mercy, justice, compassion, forgiveness of God incarnate. He is Immanuel, “God with us”. But for you and for me celebrating the feast of Christmas today: How beautiful and how Christlike is our hearts today? Does love, mercy, compassion, justice and forgiveness of wrong find home and expressions in our lives?

The Gospel of John 1,1-18 is an ancient poetry with which St. John the Evangelist celebrates the mystery of the Incarnation. For John, Jesus, the son of Mary is the True light that enlightens all men. He makes the Father known to the world because He is nearest to the Father’s heart. In the same vein, it is expected that those who celebrate the birth of Jesus become transformed such that their lives become attractive to others bringing them back to God.

The message of Christmas is that God is in us, God is with us. Do we often recognise this? Christmas reminds us of the eternal validity and importance of Humility, Sacrifice and Love.
In the Word of God that became flesh, God totally humbles Himself. God literally bends down to lift up human nature from its fallen state into the glory of its original divine nature. Our dignity as God’s image, lost by original sin, is restored and made perfect in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Therefore, in Jesus, each one of us is able to enter into a new relationship with God and a better – godly relationship with our neighbor, to serve and love others as God loves us in Jesus.

The feast of Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on how God continues to bend low in love in me. How God continues to fight injustices in our society through me. How God continues to stand with the marginalised in the community. How God extends compassion to the broken-hearted and forgive those who trespass against us. Christmas is about loving people. It is about giving hope to the hopeless. Christmas is about bandaging the wounds of wounded and setting the captives free with the love of God.

My Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is only when we become stewards of Humility, ministers of Justice and pure victims of Love that we truly celebrate a meaningful Christmas. Until we warm up the cold floor of the Crib where the Saviour is born by the quality of our love, our joy and the quality of the mercy we share with one another, we have not started to celebrate a true Christmas.
May the peace of the Lord announced by the Angels be with each one of you. Amen. I wish you a grace-filled Christmas celebrations.

+Most Rev. Francis Obafemi Adesina
Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Ijebu-Ode

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