The Nativity of the Lord
December 25, 2016 – Year A
Readings: Is 9:1-6 / Ps 96 / Ti 2:11-14 / Lk 2:1-14
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
This morning, when I visited Our Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I was pleasantly surprised at how beautiful our sanctuary looked. The flowers and the arrangements are truly a work of art. During the Advent season, we don’t have flowers, so what a change.
But what makes our sanctuary really beautiful tonight is that we are all here, in the sanctuary of Holy Name of Mary, as members of God’s family, to celebrate the birthday of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
A famous woman once said that when she was twelve years old, her father told her that, with her personal characteristics, she could, if she set her mind to it, do anything she chose. She said that these words give her great confidence when she gets nervous. This woman is Martha Stewart.
Wilma Rudolph, who contracted infantile paralysis when she was four years old, once said, “The doctors told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother.” She was not only able to walk, and eventually run, but during the 1960 Olympics in Rome, she was acclaimed as the fastest woman in the world, when she won three gold medals as a track and field sprinter.
These two examples tell us that encouraging words from people we love and trust indeed have the power to transform us. They will make the tough in us get going when the going gets tough.
Tonight, as we celebrate the eve of the 2016th birthday of Our Lord Jesus, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us,” we also celebrate the power of God’s words, that a Savior has been born for us. We couldn’t have more life-giving and encouraging words than the good news that we have a Savior, the Son of God, who will free us from the bondage of sin and lead us to a new life.
This is the reason why the greetings “Merry Christmas” are two very powerful words, because the name of Christ, the Incarnate Word, is in them.
The author, Jane Wolford Hughes, once told her bishop that, as a little girl, her grandfather used to take her fishing. She was a very chatty sort of person at that time, and she talked incessantly. Because of this, her grandfather told her, “Janie, if you listen really hard, God will tell you stories.” He didn’t tell her that because he wanted God to tell her stories, but because he didn’t want her disturbing the fish, which was his real concern.
But those words of her grandpa had a tremendous impact on her, so that eventually she was able to write about ordinary things in life to which God is present, like the birth of a baby, the wonderful things that children do, the loving interactions that people have with one another, and many other things which we usually just take for granted. These experiences made her realize that what her grandfather told her is indeed true: If you listen really hard, God will tell you stories. This became the title of the book she wrote.
If we look at the events in our lives in the light of God’s word in the sacred scriptures, we will notice that the Lord God is telling us stories every single day, stories that will remind us that, as we have heard in today’s first reading taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah, that the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light, and to those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown.
The words of the angel in the gospel, which tells us the beginning of the greatest story ever told, is also being proclaimed to each and every one of us tonight, as it was proclaimed two thousand sixteen years ago: “Do not be afraid, for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy. For today a Savior has been born for you, who is Christ the Lord.”
May Our Lord Jesus, whose body, blood, soul, and divinity we will receive in Holy Communion a few minutes from now, be once again born into our hearts and souls, not only this Christmas, but all throughout our lives.