Homily for Mass during the Day at Christmas—Cycle B—2017
FIRST READING Isaiah 52:7-10
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! Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion. Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the LORD comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem. The LORD has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.
SECOND READING Hebrews 1:1-6
Brothers and sisters: In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word. When he had accomplished purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, as far superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say: “You are my son; this day I have begotten you”? Or again: “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me”? And again, when he leads the firstborn into the world, he says: “Let all the angels of God worship him.”
GOSPEL John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Last night at the Midnight Mass, we rejoiced because the darkness of our world has been shattered and light is shining on the world in Jesus Christ. Today, in the full light of day, we give thanks to the Father for sending us His Son, the true light, who gives light to all who seek light. “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace.”
The first reading in this Day Mass comes from the Prophet Isaiah again. Only faith allows us to understand the words of the Prophet: “Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the LORD comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem.” Our world looks so unredeemed! Our world seems always mired in war, caught in the struggle for the wealthy to have more, looking away when hundreds of thousands of people die from wars and struggles and starvation, never willing to say to a Great Power that it is wrong, losing all sense of morality in just about every area. This is the redeemed world?
n the very heart of this human sinfulness God sends rays of light and powers of redemption and only asks that we respond, however feebly. We celebrate the birth of Christ because it is the reality of God taking on our humanity. It is always the same, century after century: love must be willing to suffering and die for the good of others. That is what redemption is. Redemption only makes sense in the world to come. In this life redemption always looks weak and suffering and almost crazy. That is how Jesus looked, even to His followers. That is how we shall look if we accept the birth of Jesus as the birth of God in time.
The second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews. This is part of what we hear: “In these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.” What a joke it seems to so many. Jesus was born and died as a common criminal and the world seems still so unchanged.
For us who believe, the world is radically changed because we are invited to live as children of God and to recognize the light in the darkness. We are invited to sacrifice our lives and to die willingly for the good of others. The goal of life is not money, nor power, nor pleasure—the goal of life is doing the will of God.
The Gospel is from Saint John on the Christmas morning. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory.” We only see that glory by faith. With only human eyes, we see simply a human put to death and his followers scattered in confusion. From His fullness we have all received! If we choose to accept faith, then we see the world in the light of faith and all is well because God loves us. All is well because we can live the divine life. All is well because we too can give our lives for others.
Christ is born for us! For us! For us! God so loves this world that God gives us the Son for our salvation. This Christmas morning we can sing and shout for joy because we know that God’s love and mercy has come into the world and we can live that love and mercy by faith. May this day of light draw us deeper into the light.
Your brother in the Lord,