Fr. Tim’s Homily for December 25, 2017


CHRISTMAS DAY

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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

There had been a terrible mining accident.  A reporter asked one of the rescue workers, “Are you going down there?  It is so dangerous!”  And the rescue worker replied, “There are several people trapped in that mine who need to be saved.  Yes, I’m going down there.”

I can imagine one of the angels saying to the Son of God before He became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, “Are you really going down there to that world that is so full of sin and death, where many people will not listen to you, and some of them will kill you?  Are you really going down there?”  And the Son of God replying, “My people need me to be with them and to save them.  Yes, I’m going down there.”

Because Jesus came down from heaven and was born for us of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem, He has transformed our world forever.  How so?

Jesus brings His light into this world of darkness.  That is why, in this darkest season of the year in our hemisphere, we light up our homes at Christmas time.  We are proclaiming that Christ is our Light.  He has conquered the darkness of sin and death.

An artist was painting a winter scene. There were mountains and evergreens covered with snow and a house in the center.  When the artist dipped her brush into the yellow paint and put a flame on the candle in the window of that house, the whole scene seemed to take on a beautiful glow.

We may think that the light we bring to others is too small to make a difference.  But I remind you of the motto of the Christophers:  “Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”  The light that we bring to someone who is discouraged or despairing, overwhelmed or addicted, is the very light of Christ that they so desperately need.

Jesus brings His light to our world.   And we carry His light to others.

Jesus also brings hope to our lives.  Sometimes we can feel so insignificant.  Does what I do even matter?

And yet, in God’s eyes, every single one of us is His beloved child.  Every human life is a gift from God and is sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.  Every one of our lives has value and meaning and purpose, even in spite of our failings.  Jesus brings hope to our lives.

Some years ago when I was stationed at Saint John’s Cathedral in downtown Cleveland, a letter arrived from an inmate at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield.  He was asking if someone at the Cathedral would be willing to correspond with him.  So I volunteered.  The prisoner’s name was Frank.

We wrote back and forth over the years he was incarcerated, and I went to the prison a number of times to visit with Frank.  I have a letter from Frank that I saved which was written on December 31, 1983 – 34 years ago.  This is what Frank wrote:

 

Dear Father Tim,

It was extremely cold here for Christmas.  The cells behind me have two broken windows, and when the cold air blows in, it’s almost like being outside.

We were allowed to cover the bars with newspaper, which makes the cell a little cozier and helps to keep the wind out, but not the cold.

At Christmas Eve Mass, Father told the story of Jesus being born in a stable just adequate enough to keep the wind out.

With that message in mind, Christmas with my cellmate was a fine day. We had good conversation and tasty goodies left by my father in my Christmas food package.

Nothing can keep the spirit of Christmas out of a person’s heart but the person himself.  And for me, I chose to accept the peace that God offered.

Well, I’m going to close for now.  I’m looking forward to when we are next able to visit again.  Thank you for being a friend.

Love,

Frank

Even in prison Frank knew that he was included in the meaning of Christmas.  He chose to accept the peace that God offered him.  And Frank had a pretty fine Christmas with his cellmate.

Maybe Frank’s story sounds a bit like yours in some way.  Maybe you are feeling a bit alone in a crowded, noisy world.  Maybe you have been a bit distant from God and from your Church family.  Or maybe you are looking for a Church family to belong to.  Look no further!  The Lord has brought you here.  Our Saint Joseph and Nativity Parishes are great families to belong to.  Welcome home!

Jesus came down from heaven to be with us and to save us.

Jesus came down to bring His light to our world and to give hope to our lives.

Jesus came down, and He will enter every heart that will welcome Him.

Jesus came down.

Merry Christmas, everyone!