Christmas Homily 2016.
The Year of Mercy finished five weeks ago, but in a way it just started – or – we could say that the presence of MERCY in our world started with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, when God in a human body touched our lives.
Pope Francis wrote “Mercy is the beating heart of the Gospel.” Over a year ago he said “How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God,”
We say that at Christmas too, we send out messages of blessings and peace, wishing others joy and happiness, we are really saying that we want them to experience the goodness and tenderness of God. Our Christmas messages are similar to the words of Pope Francis,. “May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.”
God’s presence to us, God’s mercy for us began with Mary. She made a space for God in her life. For the nine months she carried him in her womb, beneath her heart was the beating, echoing, reverberating, thrumming love of God.
God’s heartbeat did not echo under Mary’s heart only…..the heartbeat of God, the echoing, resounding, thrumming love of God …..beats in us too!!
We don’t have to be perfect, we don’t have to perform or produce, all we are asked to do is be a place for God, to make a place for God in our hearts, in our lives. The echoing , thrumming love of God beats in us too.
God’s presence in our world took shape in the child born of Mary. The long awaited promise of God to be with us is became a fact. That promise was complemented by another promise of Jesus “And know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time.”
Each Advent we prepare for the promise of Emmanuel: ‘God is with us’ and ‘I will be with you always, to the end of time’. Christmas is all about God’s breathtaking promise of faithfulness to us, a promise realised in the birth of the baby “Emmanuel.” At Christmas we renew our own relationship with God and think of God’s faithful relationship with us. Then countless times throughout the year we allow God to take shape in us again and we renew the fact that God is with us as We live the goodness and tenderness of God.
Each year we learn that life is a very generous giver. In our prayer and through our love we re-discover the echoing beating, love of God’s heartbeat within us. Welcome those moments in the year ahead, grasp them, and as you do so touch the angel’s hand that brings them to you. As you touch the angel’s hand, God will touch you……..
When there are things that seem like a trial, a sorrow or a duty, believe me, the angel’s hand is still there, God is still with you. The gift and the wonder of God’s presence, is there.
Our joys, too, are gifts from God.
Pause to listen to the thrumming, echoing love of God’s heartbeat beating in our hearts and God’s presence becomes ever clearer. We are able to claim that God is with us, because of the birth of Jesus. That presence gives us courage, courage to live each day in the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending our way to God and supporting each other as we go.
The story of today is so familiar and yet it is new every Christmas. If a child can look with wonder at the baby in a manger and find something awesome and mysterious, then we too, no matter our age, can learn something from every telling of the Christmas story.
A child may have tears of joy ….those tears of joy can be ours too when we ponder the crib and the Christ child and are reminded that the presence of the baby brings us the grace of God becoming human. The act of God becoming man in a humble, all-too-human way can give us all hope in the rebirth of goodwill and peace. The rebirth of good-will and peace happens when we act as Jesus acted, speak as Jesus spoke, love as he loved. It is possible for us to do this because of the echoing, reverberating, thrumming love of God’s heartbeat beating with in us – take time to listen to it…..
We have walked in darkness and now have seen a great light. We can sing a new song, be glad and rejoice, because the grace of God beats in our hearts. That grace of God helps us learn to live in peace and kindness, in honesty, in forgiveness and mercy each and every day.
We take this Christmas story and the good news of great joy into our hearts and listen to God’s heartbeat within. We hold this simple story in our hearts throughout the year, know we will make a difference because God’s heart, is already beating, is already reverberating deep within us.