CHRISTMAS Midnight Mass and Christmas Day HOMILY 2021
Isaiah 9: 1-6, 14 + Luke 2: 1-14
Holy Spirit Catholic Church: December 25, 2021
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in a land of gloom, a light has shone. (Isaiah 9:1)
These words of the prophet Isaiah describe not only Israel’s suffering under oppression from the Babylonians and the Assyrians in the 6th century B.C., and God’s response,
but also the time of Jesus as well.
The long awaited promised One, the child of Hope, is born into a world
where his people suffer from Roman oppression.
The faithful remnant of Israel in Jesus’ day long for the light of a new day,
for the promised Messiah to set them free.
But because the word of God is ever alive and always active,
Isaiah’s words speak to us today as well.
Because we have been living for almost two years in what seems like one long night, stumbling around in deep darkness, nothing seeming to be like it was before COVID-19.
We have been dwelling in a land of gloom.
It is into this darkness that the light who is Christ shines.
It is into this gloom that the piercing light who is Christ penetrates.
The Savior is born anew into our world where we need Him now
to be our light and our salvation.
In the midst of so much bad news, so much death, so much division and conflict,
comes good news of great joy—A savior is born for us!
Do not let your hearts be troubled nor your minds muddled—
know that the child born of Mary is the Way to life, the Way who gives us Breath—
breathe deeply of the Life he brings.
That child born in Bethlehem in the dark of night is the Truth of the Father’s love for us, the Truth shining through the darkest times when we feel absolutely, utterly lost.
He is the Way through the greatest darkness of all–He is the Life that conquers death.
Bedazzled by this blazing mystery, we ponder the titles used by the prophet of old
for the Savior of the World:
He is Wonder-Counselor, God-hero, Father-forever, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:5)
He is “Wonder-Counselor,” for He is anointed by the Spirit and relies on Spirit’s gifts,
on a wisdom and a knowledge and an understanding flowing from the heart of God.
So, he can counsel us on the way to life, especially when we seem to have lost our way.
When life is at its darkest point, when we stumble around lost in confusion
or hurt or sadness, Jesus advises us that it is then that life is also at its brightest,
for at that low point we realize we cannot save ourselves and need a Savior.
He saves by surrendering his life to the Father out of love, so we can learn the wisdom of surrendering our lives with him to the Father.
The way to life is to lose our life in sacrificial love of others, not by holding onto it.
He is Wonder-Counselor!
He is also “God-hero.”
Jesus as Savior of the World is born and lives not as a superhero, but as God-hero.
The child born of Mary is the hero we need,
not the Marvel characters so many with whom so many are fascinated.
For in God’s wisdom, Jesus does not have any superpowers to protect him
from suffering and sadness, from hatred and persecution.
He empties himself of all divine privilege to become weak and fragile like us,
subject to hunger and heartache, to thirst and heartbreak.
This hero shows us that God stands on the side of the underdog, the forgotten ones—
the sick, the poor, the stranger, the sinner.
Even the way he dies is heroic in a godly way.
He does not do the superhero thing to break free from the cross and to kill the Roman soldiers and religious leaders who nailed him to that tree.
Rather, he suffers to transform all our suffering into glory,
and he dies to transform all our dying into life with Him.
He is GOD-HERO!
He is “Father-forever.”
As Jesus repeats over and over again in John’s Gospel—if you have seen me,
you have seen the Father. The Father and I are one.
I can only do what I see my Father doing.
The Son of God shows us the Father’s face and that face is MERCY.
Jesus reveals a God constantly searching for His lost children.
A God who never gives up looking for us when we are lost,
and always ready to run out and welcome us home,
to throw a party when we turn back to Him.
By his parables and by the parable of his life, Jesus reveals a God
who will always be “Our Father.”
He is also “Prince of Peace.”
Into a world filled with fury he comes, a world ripped apart by violence.
Where soulless drones shoot deadly missiles at innocent civilians,
where children kill other children with guns built to kill many quickly,
where mothers consent to the killing of their children in their womb,
and where States state that killing is wrong by killing the killer.
As Prince of Peace, he comes not only into the violent world out there,
but to the violence in here, the violence which flares up in every human heart.
Hearts that harbor resentment and thirst for revenge,
hearts that condemn others without even getting to know the one begin condemned, hearts which are full of self-hatred, punishing their owners mercilessly.
As Prince of Peace he comes to these hearts, to our hearts, to reign, to rule, to save.
Toward the end of the recently released movie, “West Side Story,”
the character played by Rita Moreno, Valentina, sings the haunting song, “Somewhere.”
Valentina sings this song after the rumble between the Jets and the Sharks,
a violent encounter which leads to the death of their leaders, Riff and Bernardo,
whose violent deaths give birth to more violence by their followers.
As violence begets more violence, Valentina sings:
Somewhere. We’ll find a new way of living.
We’ll find a way of forgiving
There’s a place for us.
A time and place for us.
Hold my hand and we’re halfway there.
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there.
As Savior of the World and Prince of Peace, Jesus is hand of God stretched out
to grasp our hand to lead us into a new way of living,
a way of forgiving, a way of living in peace with each other.
He is born to save us.
He does so by becoming one of us and one with us.
Love becomes us, so we can become Love.
Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi