Midnight Mass 2017 Homily – Cardinal John Dew

Christmas 2017

Do you have a Christmas heart?

A few days ago, I prayed with a meditation which was written for people with Christmas hearts.  It said, “these are songs to be sung in today’s over commercialised world, they are to help people to remember WHO Christmas is.” Jesus Christ is not a written text or an abstract idea, Jesu sis a living person.

A few weeks ago, I posted on my Facebook page a photograph of a life-sized Nativity scene in a supermarket at Petone.  I was astounded at the number of people who saw that Facebook post.  Thousands of people saw it, dozens of people commented on it. They made comments such as –

  • it’s good to remember WHAT Christmas is all about”,
  • “it’s time to think about WHAT we are celebrating”,
  • “it’s time to stop and think WHY we do all these things.

We could reflect on Christmas in terms of WHAT or WHY – but it is more important to reflect on WHO Christmas is.

In the very first homily Pope Benedict gave as Pope he said, “each of us is a result of a thought of God, each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.  There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, to be surprised by the encounter with Christ.”

That means being surprised by WHO not a what or a why.  The WHO is Jesus – Jesus born at Nazareth.  We are surprised when we meet Jesus.  We meet, we encounter Christ tonight.

Pope Benedict also once said “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

When we meet Jesus, when we hear his words and try to live by those words our life is given a new horizon and a decisive direction.

It is usually easy to relate to babies – like all babies Jesus grew up. That means we don’t spend our life relating to the baby Jesus, we spend our lives listening to the adult Jesus who speaks to us, who lived, who died, who was crucified and rose again.

However, this night, this day is to remember when the mystery of God’s presence in our world began. St Paul, in his letter to Titus reminded us that God’s grace has been revealed, made known to us through Jesus born into our world.  God’s grace, God’s kindness has made salvation possible for the whole human race.  God’s grace did not make a WHAT or WHY known, God’s goodness and kindness made a person known, Jesus.  “Today a Saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.”

In one of his first Angelus messages after being elected Pope Francis was talking about the love of God.  He said “the one who sows love in our hearts is God.  But what is God’s love?  It’s not something vague, some generic feeling.  God’s love has a name and a face, Jesus Christ.  Jesus, love for God is shown to us in Jesus.” Do we know Jesus who has a name and a face?

My greatest wish and prayer for you, for each of us this Christmas, is that we will carry Christmas in our hearts, that we will carry Jesus in our hearts, and like God be kind to each other.

One of those of meditations which prompted me to reflect on Who Christmas is said

“more than anything else

I want to give you Christmas this year,

it’s a gift

an offer. 

You can take it,

if you like,

but I can’t really give it to you

like a wrapped-up package,

it’s deeper than that.

It is warmer, brighter, lighter,

it is more personal. 

Christmas is more challenging

than a wrapped-up package

it is an offer,

it is a mystery,

it is birth,

it is hope,

it is Christmas

and God can never be born enough.”

God can never be born enough in our world….you and I bring Jesus to life.

God could be born a thousand thousand times in Bethlehem but if he is not born in our hearts it would all be a waste of time.

Christmas is about who came to live in our world, about who continues to come and be born in our hearts.

“Today a Saviour has been born to you he is Christ the Lord.”