December 25, 2017
Paulist Fr. Rich Andre preached this homily for the Christmas Eve Family Mass on December 24, 2017 at St. Austin Parish in Austin, TX. The homily is based on the some readings for Christmas Mass during the night: Isaiah 9:1-6; Psalm 96; and Luke 2:1-14.
Good evening and welcome! We are glad that you are here, even if you and your loved ones are unable to sit together, sitting in the Mary Chapel where you can’t see the altar, or standing out in the foyer. It’s wonderful to see so many people come together to celebrate what makes us one – our faith and fellowship in Jesus Christ.
No doubt, many of you have spent the past few weeks seeing the magic of Santa Claus through the eyes of a child. Tonight, we ask you to refocus that vision just a touch: to see the miracle of Jesus Christ through the eyes of a child.
As generous as Santa is with presents, God is even more generous with love and mercy. Let us take a moment to celebrate that!
I will be asking a series of questions in tonight’s homily. Sometimes, after a child answers a question tonight, I will then ask an adult relative of that child to answer a similar question!
Tonight, all over the world, people celebrate the birthday of the baby Jesus. How many of you have younger brothers and sisters? Do you remember how you felt when first meeting your new little baby brother or sister? [After each child responds, ask an adult:] OK, parent: how did you feel about having a child? [After a few responses.] When my first niece was born, we could gaze at her, sitting in her bouncy chair, for hours. We were fascinated to simply look at this child!
When your brother or sister was born, what kind of instructions did your parents give you about not hurting the baby? [Ask for responses, then to an adult:] How did you feel, especially with your first child, being entrusted with the responsibility to care for a baby? [Take a few responses.]
And a question for the youngest children of the family: how does it feel to be the youngest in the family? [Take a few responses.] I’m the younger of two in my family. I remember years of feeling helpless. I wasn’t as fast or as strong as my sister, and she knew so much more than me. And to this day, she almost always wins whenever we play games together! But being the youngest also has its advantages: for years, my sister addressed my Christmas presents to “TFC,” short for “The Favorite Child.”
So, we’ve established that babies are weak and vulnerable, and that they are completely dependent on other people to care for them. So, why do you think God decided to have Jesus be born as a baby? Why not have him come to earth as adult, perhaps as a king? [Take some responses from children, and some from adults.]
Christmas is a time to celebrate that God made us partners in bringing about the salvation of the world. God entrusted Mary and Joseph to raise his Son, and I’m sure they felt the same way that your parents feel about raising you – that they weren’t up to the task, but they had to give it their best shot. When you think about it, so many things happened to Jesus before he became an adult – things that have propbably happened to each of you. Jesus experienced the love of his parents, his extended family. He played with his neighbors and cousins. He probably got hurt from time. He probably got sick and maybe, sometimes, people treated him unfairly. But I think that this was all part of God’s plan.
Jesus is LORD. Jesus is God. Yet, Jesus was born as a baby and experienced many of the same things that we do in growing up. Jesus loves each and every one of us. I find it easy to believe that Jesus loves me whenever I think about the hopes, the frustrations, and the joys he must experienced growing up in a family… like us!
Hopefully, our celebration tonight helps all of us to understand that Christmas is our story. Jesus was born for each of us! Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to us on whom his favor rests!