Christmas Eve and Day
I welcome members of our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parishes to this Christmas Mass. And I also welcome your guests and members of other parishes.
I also want to offer a special word of welcome to those here who might be looking for a church to belong to. We would love to have you in our family.
And there may be someone here today who hasn’t been to church in a while. I am glad that you came. We have missed you! And I am personally inviting you right now to come home to your parish family. Coming to Mass each week will have a profound effect on your life during the New Year ahead, I promise you. I welcome you home from my heart!
We have a God who simply will not take “no” for an answer. That is a central message of Christmas.
It started in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had everything. And they told God “no” by disobeying His only command. God could have legitimately told them to “go to hell!” But not our God. He promised to send them a Savior. We have a God who simply will not take “no” for an answer.
God saw a world destroying itself by sin in the days of Noah, so He sent a flood to cleanse it. But the world once again said “no.”
He made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. But they were unfaithful and told God “no.”
He saw His people enslaved in Egypt, so He sent Moses to lead them to freedom in the Promised Land. But they replied “no.”
God gave us commandments, and we worshiped molten images.
He sent the prophets to teach us and call us back to Him. And we said “no.”
The good news today is that we have a Good God who simply will not take “no” for an answer.
So, how is this lavishly loving and merciful God ever going to coax us to say “yes” instead of “no”?
Nothing changes people more than a baby. A baby changes a woman into a mother, a man into a father, a child into a brother or a sister.
Nothing changes lives more than a baby.
Nothing upsets routine more… nothing opens hearts more … nothing transforms a “no” to a “yes” more than a baby.
And so God the Father sent His only-begotten Son to us as a baby. And that is what this “silent night, holy night” is all about.
And now the choice is ours: as we behold this “Holy Infant, so tender and mild,” will we say “yes” or “no”?
A priest tells about preparing a wonderful young couple for marriage, who were so very different from each other.
She came from a wealthy, suburban background. He came from a poor, rural one.
She was already a school principal. He was a plumber.
She drove a convertible. He drove a pick-up.
And they were head-over-heels in love with each other.
But there was one big problem: their parents despised each other.
The night of their wedding rehearsal dinner, the two sets of parents got into a shouting match, reducing the bride-to-be to tears.
The parents shot laser-looks at each other during the wedding. And they should have worn flack-jackets instead of gowns and tuxedos to the reception.
How sad, ugly and petty…
About a year later, the priest got a call from this young couple with some wonderful news. They just had a new baby and wanted this priest to perform the Baptism. He told them he would be honored to do so.
But then he added, “By the way, how are the Hatfields and the McCoys?”
“As bad as ever,” came the reply.
A few Sundays later they were all at the church for the Baptism. The two sets of grandparents were staring at each other like Browns and Steelers fans sometimes do. Then the young couple invited the priest to their home after the Baptism. He accepted the invitation, but was dreading it.
When the priest got there, he couldn’t believe what he saw. Both sets of grandparents were on the living room floor, cooing at the baby. They were all laughing, teasing about which side of the family the baby most resembled, and passing the little infant from one to another.
The priest snuck into the kitchen and the new parents whispered, “Isn’t this a miracle! This is the first time that the four of them have been together with our new baby, and you’d think that they were lifelong friends. We can’t believe the transformation!”
The baby changed a hateful “no” to a loving “yes.” That infant transformed lives from bitterness to graciousness, from resentment to acceptance.
Babies have a way of doing that. No wonder the Son of God entered the world as one.
So, what’s it going to be for you this Christmas 2016? Look at the Baby in the manger. Will we pick Him up, hug Him, accept Him into our lives, and love Him so much that we want to spend eternity with Him?
Will we let this Baby transform us from sin to grace, from selfishness to love, from doubt to faith, from despair to hope?
Will it be a “yes” or a “no”?
Just remember though: whatever we answer, Christmas means that we have a God who simply will not take “no” for an answer.
Merry Christmas, everyone!