The Nativity of Our Lord – Fr. Pete Iorio
December 24, 2019 – 5:00 Vigil Mass
On Christmas we remember that God gave us a baby:
How many of you are a big brother or sister and have a baby in your family?
Those of you with hands up, are you afraid of the baby? NO.
God doesn’t want to frighten us and no one is frightened of a baby. How often does he say in the Christmas story ‘Do not be afraid’? To Zachariah, to Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds. God says ‘Do not be afraid’.
Raise your hands if you love babies?
Every baby is a sign of love; this is the secret of babies; babies are made by love. It is the love of a mother and father which causes a baby to come into the world and, in the case of Baby Jesus, it was the love of the blessed Virgin Mary which cooperated with the love of God himself.
Thank you very much for helping us learn about the baby Jesus and God’s love. Go back right now and show a sign of your love to your parents or grandparents.
Every baby is born into a family that is not perfect. Even Jesus had a dysfunctional family history. As strange as it seems, this Gospel reading is absolutely one of my favorites and the option of the long version with that list of funny sounding names: WHY? Because reading the genealogy of Jesus indicates that not everyone was perfect. The baby Jesus, who is God, had murderers and adulterers and foreigners and prostitutes and many unknowns in his family tree. God wants us to know that he is our brother and wants a loving relationship with us. No matter who we are or what we did or did not do, we are worthy of his love. We do not have to earn it. God’s love is freely given to all.
The baby Jesus was born in the darkness. Some of us are going through our own dark times… The mother with 3 children whose husband has left; couples who so desperately want babies and cannot conceive; a husband who just lost wife; families who are undocumented have fears and worries, a mother or father who just lost their job, the poor feel out of place when they see the splendor of others. Some are struggling with addictions. It is important to call to mind these folks, some here among us tonight who dwell in a kind of darkness. Christmas is for them/for you. Christ embodies the very good news that God dwells among us. He enlightens our darkness. The infant laid in the manger will one day be laid in tomb. Darkness met its match when Christ was born. He will transform darkness by love.
In Jesus, we can see God made flesh. We may be tempted to think or feel that God is out there or even that God does not care about me. NOT TRUE. There are immense implications of the mystery of the incarnation. God is always with us by the gift of the Holy Spirit. God is where we are weak, vulnerable, small, and dependent. God is where the poor are, the hungry, the handicapped, the mentally ill, the elderly, the addicted, the powerless. If our focus is on success, greatness, influence and power, how can we come to know God? I increasingly believe that our faithfulness will depend on our willingness to go where there is brokenness, loneliness, and human need. . .. Each one of us is very seriously searching to live and grow in this belief, and by friendship we can support each other. The only way for us to stay well in a challenging world is to stay close to the small, vulnerable child that lives in our hearts and in every other human being. Often we do not know that the Christ child is within us. When we discover him we can truly rejoice.