The Nativity of the Lord
December 25, 2020 — Year B
Readings: Is 9:1-6 / Ps 96 / Ti 2:11-14 / Lk 2:1-14
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
Jane Wolford Hughes, a Catholic author and a good friend of Bishop Holley, wrote a small book that is being quoted by many preachers. It’s called, “If You Listen Really Hard, God Will Tell You Stories.”
When Jane was a little girl, her grandfather took her fishing. She wasn’t fishing herself, but she just liked to spend time with her grandfather. She was a very chatty little girl, and she talked a lot. One day her grandfather said, “You know, Jane if you could just be quiet for a little while and listen really hard, God will tell you stories.”
Now, the reason why he told her that was because she was so noisy that she was driving away all the fish. But little Jane took those words seriously and that is why, as she was growing up, she looked for God’s message in ordinary things in life.
And she noticed that, yes, God does tell us stories in more ways than one; not only when we are happy, but when we are sad; not only when we are triumphant, but when we feel defeated; not only through the words of the scholars, but through the voices of little children. Yes, if you listen really hard, God will tell you stories.
God speaks to us every single day. In the past few months, during this pandemic, I have heard so many stories, some very heartwarming stories. I don’t have the time to tell all of them to you now, but it definitely seems that the Lord God works in mysterious ways. We are all here tonight, despite what is going on around us; we are here to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, because it is Christmas. It is the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It goes to show that the Lord has given us the gift of faith. Yes, we can see the silver lining of the cloud, and we can see the light.
In today’s first reading, which is taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, the prophet said, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.” Christmas is the Feast of Light. Pandemic or no pandemic, we’re still bright.
On my way to my Mass at our sister parish, Resurrection, I passed by two houses on Route 122 with beautiful decorations, lighting that was truly amazing. Of course, we have our own lights here in Bedford at Liberty Lake. I haven’t yet been to the Elks Home display, but I was told when I first came here that Bedford is called the “Christmas Capital of Virginia” because of those lights.
Christmas indeed is the Feast of Light, because Jesus is the Light of the World. Because of this we are inspired to continue on with our journey. We are children of the light. Those who walk with Him will never be in darkness. This is great news. That’s why the angel proclaimed to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid! I proclaim to you good news of great joy!” Who wouldn’t like to receive the good news? This is what the Gospel is all about. The whole Bible is the good news. It is the lovely story of God and His people, and we are His people.
And we have a bit of good news: We now have a vaccine, and we pray and hope it will work. One of these days, we won’t have to wear masks anymore, I hope and pray. But we don’t know when this will happen. We do still believe that God is the Creator of heaven and earth. He is still in charge. Yes, he will help us, but in His time. All we need to do is hold onto our faith.
In the meantime, as we celebrate our faith, we can no longer do what we used to; we can no longer have big gatherings, as we used to; we can no longer have big parties to celebrate Christmas. But those are trappings. What is more important is to focus on the celebrant himself. What would He like us to do? The Heavenly Father gave us His Son as His gift. The Lord Jesus gave His own life for all of us as His gift; He gave us this Holy Eucharist, so we could receive his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion. He is also expecting us to be a gift to others.
As Pope Francis puts it in his poem, You Are Christmas,
Christmas is you,
when you decide to be born again each day and let God into your soul.
The Christmas pine is you,
when you resist vigorous winds and difficulties of life.
You are also a Christmas light,
when you illuminate with your life the path of others with kindness, patience, joy and generosity.
The Christmas star is you,
when you lead someone to meet the Lord.
The Christmas card is you,
when kindness is written in your hands.
You are, yes, Christmas night,
when humble and conscious,
you receive in the silence of the night the Savior of the world.