Nativity of Our Lord

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2011/12/25 at 9:11 AM

• Deep within the heart of all mankind is a longing. We have an innate sense within ourselves that there is more to life than working, taking our kids to soccer games, or watching TV.

• We know that there is even more to life than all the wonderful things that money can buy, success can attain, or freedom can promise.

• Beyond all the mundane tasks that fill our days, beyond our hopes for success and desires for comfort, there is more that our hearts desire.

• At the deepest core of our hearts is a desire for that which transcends this material world and all that it can offer. Indeed, at the deepest core of our hearts is a desire for that which is eternal: God Himself.

• Try as we might to fulfill this deep longing with material goods, with money or success or fame, everything this world has to offer ultimately rings hollow and unfulfilling. This is because only God Himself can fill that void at the deepest center of our souls.

• Thus the life of the God-fearing man is a long journey or quest for that complete and total union with the Creator, which alone can bring us lasting peace.

• When God created man so long ago, He created us for this complete and total union with Him, and our first parents enjoyed this union with Him in those halcyon days in the Garden of Eden.

• But through our own monstrous pride and the deceptions of the devil, that communion was destroyed by the one thing that has the power to separate man from God: sin.

• Thus it was that the sad drama of humanity was begun. Created to live in union with God in paradise, man turned away from God in a proud quest to usurp Him.

• And from that time onward man has been engaged in this “on-again, off-again” relationship with God: repenting and being reconciled to God, then turning away again through sin, only to repent and to be reconciled once more.

• We see this drama writ large on the pages of the Old Testament as we read the stories of the ancient Israelites. But, of course, each of us has our own similar story that has played out over the course of our lives. At times our struggle with sin can seem futile.

• But we must never lose hope! Especially not today.

• Although the flesh is indeed weak, if our spirits are willing, then Christ will help us. And it’s this fact that we celebrate with the great Feast of Christmas!

• You see, Christmas is not simply the anniversary of a historical reality: the fact that Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary on a cold night in Bethlehem. It’s so much more.

• Christmas is the celebration that our Lord Jesus, veiled in human flesh, comes to us to dwell with us, to be one of us, so that He can save us from our sins.

• The Gospel for Mass on Christmas Day is the Prologue of the Gospel of John, which tells us that: “The Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us.” And St. John tells us that, “to those who did accept Him, He gave power to become the children of God.”

• This is because in becoming man, Jesus incorporated our human nature into His own divine nature. In doing so He renews and restores human nature, giving our mortal nature immortal value.

• Thus the Incarnation shows forth the great dignity that mankind possesses. God could have united Himself to any nature He chose, but He chose our human nature, showing that man is something wonderful in God’s eyes, something more special than anything else in all of creation.

• And because of this, because God became man, we are now able, through grace, to participate in God’s own divine nature. Salvation is not something we’re waiting for; it’s not something distant and extrinsic to us. It’s something we participate in now!

• But only if we choose to receive the Christ Child into our hearts, repent of our sins, and live as He desires us to live.

• God created all of us to live with Him forever in Heaven, to be His adopted sons and daughters through Jesus Christ. And this God accomplishes through the Incarnation, the very mystery of our faith that we celebrate today with Christmas.

• Obviously, this is a beautiful feast, and it’s beautiful for many reasons. Christmas is beautiful first in what it tells us about God’s love and mercy for us. But it is also beautiful in what it tells us about our human nature.

• Through the Incarnation our human nature has been transformed by grace! Through Christ’s incarnation the divine life of grace that was lost to us by Adam and Eve is now restored, making it possible to live divinely on earth so that we may inherit Heaven.

• And while Jesus died, was resurrected from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, He remains with us still in the Eucharist. Christ continues to be made incarnate through His Church, particularly through the priesthood that makes the Eucharist possible.

• It is by no coincidence that, at His birth, our infant Lord was laid in a manger – a feeding trough. For this was the great foreshadowing of the Eucharist.

• Christ Jesus came to us not simply to suffer and die for us. He came not simply to be worshipped and adored. He came, as well, to give Himself fully. So much does He loves us that He gives us His very flesh and blood as true food and true drink.

• Through the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist – and all the sacraments – God’s saving grace is communicated to us. In this way we are transformed and made into the adopted sons and daughters of God the Father. In this way we participate in our salvation now.

• But it all starts here on this day, for without the Incarnation, there is no salvation.

• My dear brothers and sisters, there is a longing within each of us for that which is transcendent, for that which is immortal. On this night that longing is fulfilled by a tiny babe, born in Bethlehem.

• He comes to heal us of our sins, to save us from eternal perdition, and to make us holy so that we can live with Him forever in the joys of eternity.

• Let us see in Him the only answer to the deepest desires of our hearts, and there let us make room for Him so that we may live according to His will.

Copyright 2010 by Reverend Timothy S. Reid

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC


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