Theme: The Word dwelt among us
Throughout Advent there is a note of underlying joy and expectancy. It reaches its height on the 25th day of December as the feast of the birth of Christ. “He came into the world that was made through him” John 1:3. The world was not a strange place for Jesus; he was not a tourist visiting a foreign country. That is why what the world had become did not surprise him.
Of course, as a man, Jesus experienced everything differently than as God. Now, he touched the soft lamb’s wool, smelled the fragrant flowers, tasted the sweet grape, felt the sand on his feet; was buoyed up by waves. One thing though surprised Jesus; “He came to what was his own but his own people did not accept him” John 1:11. He had come into a world where brothers quarreled and stewards cheated; where adultery was normal, where the rich freely cheated, while the poor were becoming poorer. Because of this he would not entertain sin. This is why he is Emmanuel.
First reading: Isaiah 52:7-10
In this reading prophet Isaiah imagines himself standing on the top of the mountain where the ruins of Jerusalem stand. From there he sees a lot of life and activity in the city: people running about and excited, dancing and cheering. He looks again more carefully and sees the watchmen running along the path giving joyful news to all they meet on their way. The exiles are returning from Babylon, the period of slavery, suffering and humiliation are over; the leaders, evil kings and bad shepherds who exploited the people have been removed forever. A new era has dawned, for the Lord will personally lead His people.
This is happening after forty years of captivity in Babylon, the Jews thought that God had abandoned them, but that was just a thought. When they eventually returned, their Capital Jerusalem was a heap of burned ruins. But Prophet Isaiah, in God’s name announced that those ruins would have life in them again. Yes, it is true that the salvation of God is not outside creation because it is a mystery fitted within history. Today we who are alive are we not almost facing a situation similar to the one experienced by the people of Israel in the time of Prophet Isaiah? We see that our promised political and spiritual independence is still far from being complete; but like the people of Israel we must trust in God. The new kingdom has begun and we are the ‘watchmen and women’ that have seen it and must proclaim it to all. Why is it that our announcement does not display of joy? It is because we are still lukewarm and believe little. We need to know how to recognize where the joy of salvation is coming from. Our nation, our city, towns and markets and even in our individual homes are supposed to be among those places where the ‘watchman’ stands proclaiming that that inconveniences are over. We need to be attentive that the voice does not pass unrecognized. We need to be ablaze with the message of the Gospel of Jesus that Christ is our Lord in word, action and life.
Second reading: Hebrews 1:1-6
This reading tells us how God used many ways to make people aware of his love for all of them. He spoke first through creation by making all things beautiful that every one who contemplates them should be able to discover the love of God who made them. Therefore; who ever uses created things without questioning him/herself whether their Maker has something to say through them is a materialist, unable to understand the language of true love. The people of Israel had a privilege of hearing the voice of God through prophets. God called prophets to read and interpret the signs of the time in his name. But this way was not even enough for them to comprehend, then in the fullness of time, sent his son into the world, the one who is the perfect image of himself, his ‘WORD’. Jesus Christ the word of the Father is the highest possible revelation, the most eloquent revelation of the Father. St. John in his gospel confirms this truth. If then we are still slow to believe the good news and transform our lives for the better; whom are we still waiting for? God is already here in our midst. Let us welcome and accommodate him through our change of lifestyle.
Gospel: John 1:1-18
For John, the son of God who became man in Jesus existed even before the creation of the world. John calls the son of God ‘WORD’ which means speech. The word was communicated to us and dwelt among us assuming time and making history. The son of God is the WORD of the FATHER. This WORD is the maximum manifestation of the term LOVE from God to you and me. The WORD of God became flesh two thousand years ago, he was made man like us, spoke the human language, in order to tell us face to face about the Father and what value we are for the Father and his eternal plan for all of us. If we want to know the plan of God for us is mainly to look at Jesus and all is accomplished.
The invitation of Christmas is: See what he does, listen to what he says and teaches, watch how he behaves, the people he goes with, where he takes his meals and with whom, the persons he chooses, who are those that he rebukes, and those that he defends; because this is what the Father does. The first gift of Incarnation to us people of this generation is to reveal to us how much God loves each one of us. He is God who does not punish people, he is God who saves and gives complete eternal happiness. This Word of God has come and is here among us. This “word has come as light that darkness cannot overcome” John 1:5. A new humanity in Jesus Christ has suddenly risen within people steeped in sin, but sin can never overcome him. Even if darkness tends to cover our world but it can not manage to overcome even the smallest light that originates from Christ who has come to stay into the world. We are sure of his victory yesterday, today and forever.
To make the celebration of Christmas a reality, here are three things that do contribute towards happiness and victory that we all so urgently need now. The first is to have meaning and purpose of my life. So much emphasis in our society is placed on celebrity and achievement. Surely, much more important is the fulfillment of our gifts, whatever they may be, so that we feel we are making a contribution to our society. Jesus did not so much speak of the crowds, but rather of ‘a certain man, a certain woman’. He emphasized the value and dignity of each human person.
The second point is to have clean and health relationships. Good relationships lie at the heart of a happy life and are based on a strong moral code of caring for the other and being loyal. Our emotional security and acceptance of self is primary if we are to reach out to others. Usually, our inner security comes from those earliest years of our life through receiving consistent love which reassures us that we are lovable and so can then reach out to others in true friendship. We have to remember too that friendship is a two-way thing. As the poet Emerson said: to have a friend you must be a friend. Most of us have to cope at some moment of our lives with negative feelings – rejection, hurt, illness, bereavement and breakdown in relationships – all kinds of trials that life can throw at us. If we do not learn to cope and face such difficulties then we can be tempted to different forms of escapism in order to anaesthetize the pain, which are not the road to happiness.
The third and most important is Faith in Jesus Christ. True and lasting happiness is also a deeply spiritual quest transcending one’s own self. We all need a point of reference outside of ourselves, a scaffold of beliefs and values to help shape our lives. For us Catholics, it must be the person of Jesus and His Gospel. Strive, so that Jesus becomes real for you as a person, rather than a notion. Without genuine celebration of Christmas we can well be assured that ‘the nice decade is over’. Christmas assures us that God is not finished with us. Christmas shows that life is a struggle in which even God is willing to participate in order to save us. Easy acquisition of salvation tends to fuel an explosion of consumer-centered selfishness. This is not a Christmas value where God is available for all people of good will. Let it be known that increased wealth does not automatically bring increased happiness. Indeed, we must not look for unalloyed happiness this side of heaven. God has placed what I often call a ‘repining restlessness’ within us, so that we will not find ultimate rest and happiness outside of Himself. Christmas offers fundamental change to human history since it opens our minds to new reality of existence. Christmas offers true and natural friendship between our ethnic groups that tend to be continuously in a struggle when it comes to jobs, power and political issues. People like this with closed minds learn nothing because they live in the past. They idealize the period that is gone; they live on prejudices thinking they are principles. To live in Christmas is to embrace change since to be perfect is to have changed often. Be ready to set this country alight with the message of joy and peace because Jesus the Emmanuel is here today because of you.
Have you been living a reckless life? Hopeless in implementing facts? Lazy in planning? Today is the day of Salvation. God in Emmanuel wants turn your life round. Receive the spirit of joy and start on the journey of transformation. Be the new person in yourself who knows that Jesus is born. Let this Jesus’ event change you for the better. One sure step in the right direction makes to a thousand kilometers; come let’s get going.