Bottom line: That is the meaning of Christmas: the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. Let's go with the shepherds to Bethlehem to adore Jesus.
Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! What does Christmas mean? Let's start at the beginning. St. John tells us, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." C.S. Lewis describes God as "the rock bottom, irreducible Fact on which all other facts depend". John tells us that God is never alone. With him is the Word who is also God.
John goes on to state, "All things came to be through him (the Word), and without him nothing came to be." What does John mean when he says all things came to be through the Word? Well, think about the ordinary meaning of "word". Word is intelligence, concept, information. You may have read that once the scientists got the coronavirus genome sequence back in January, it took them only 48 hours to design the actual vaccine. When you have the right information, the right concept, the right word, things go fast. Similarly, creation begins with the Word - not some random act.
John continues: "What came to be through him (the Word) was life, and this life was the light of the human race". The Word not only creates and orders the universe. He brings forth life and human souls with our capacity to reason, to know the truth and to discern good and evil. Shakespeare says, "What a piece of work is man". But, you know, as wonderful as the human person is, we have a fatal flaw. We often prefer darkness to the light. For that reason we need a savior. So God himself enters directly into our creation. As John says,
"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."
That's what we celebrate tonight: the Word becomes flesh, God becomes man. How do we respond?
We join the angels who sing, "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests". During Advent - like in Lent - we refrain from the Gloria. It's a form of fasting. No one can enjoy a meal if he comes to the table with a full stomach. He has to do some fasting. Just so, during Advent and Lent, we fast from the Gloria so we can savor its meaning when Christmas and Easter arrive.
To savor the meaning of Christmas we need to follow Mary's example. "Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." During the pandemic we should have more time for prayer, for reflecting on the mysteries of Jesus. That didn't always happen. Rather than picking up their Bible or rosary, many turned to Netflix and other diversions. Not bad in themselves, but they can take over. Some resisted. A young man in our parish told me he decided to not turn to his iPhone until at least an hour after he wakes - so he can devote time to prayer.
We will hear more about Mary's example of contemplation next Friday on New Year's which is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Before that, on Holy Family Sunday we will see two saintly seniors: Simeon and Anna who spent their lives in prayer and were blessed to contemplate the infant Jesus - the Word made Flesh.
But this evening we take the example of the shepherds. They said, "Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place". Bethlehem means "house of bread". Jesus humbled himself to become a helpless babe. In the Mass he humbles himself even more to become bread. That is the meaning of Christmas: the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us. Let's go with the shepherds to Bethlehem to adore Jesus:
Spanish Version (Word document)
From the archives (Christmas homilies):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru