Christmas Day 2018
Jesus Christ is born today and the world will never be the same again. This is the truth we hold on to at Christmas; that God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son. This is what gives us hope and that hope is sometimes all we need.
I say that because I have a friend who is a Bishop in Nicaragua. As you may or may not know the political situation in Nicaragua is not good and the church is being openly persecuted. My friend, Bishop Silvio Baez, is risking his life by preaching peace and justice; already he has been beaten up and his ring taken from him. His situation is all too similar to that of Archbishop Oscar Romero who was shot dead. I think of my friend and wonder how he is going to enjoy Christmas, can he enjoy it? He is a brave man, outspoken, telling to the truth to people who do not want to hear it. But it is because of Christmas that he has the courage to keep going; to stand up for justice to criticise those who are corrupt. The birth of Christ has given him hope that all will be well. Spare a thought and a prayer for the people of Nicaragua today.
Christmas gives us hope. Hope that all will be well; that if our lives have been difficult this past year that they will be better next, even when we can’t see that happening. There will be people suffering today, not just in Nicaragua, but also here in England, but for different reasons: people who have lost someone they love; and this the first christmas without them. But Christmas gives us hope; that all will be well. And that the pain of loss will be turned to something more positive. I can think of two families who will be mourning this Christmas, grieving for someone who was loved. We pray, don’t we for such people, and we all know them: we pray that the Lord will comfort them at this special time when everyone is having a good time.
The birth of Christ is such a huge event; its meaning so mysterious that its is hard to comprehend. We believe that God became one of us. In becoming one of us He lifted us up to Himself. These are two amazing truths: God became flesh and we became, by adoption, His sons and daughters. His birth really has changed the world. It has given us hope, a hope that will not deceive. A hope that all will be well. I am sure that during the last year not everything has gone well for you. Sometimes people have terrible years and pray that the next year will not be as bad. Because of the birth of Christ we can pray with confidence that things will change, that life will not always be so difficult, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Christmas should put a smile on our faces. It is good news. Not bad news. People can sometimes say to us, “I’ve got good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” Well, with Christmas there is no bad news, it’s only good news; the news that our Saviour has been born for us. And why was he born? To tell us that we are loved by God. All of us; not just some of us, and not just when we are good, but all the time. We don’t have to be good to be loved by God. We say to children, don’t we, that Santa Claus will bring you presents but only if you are good. But God loves us even when we are not good. Nor do we have to be anybody else, just ourselves. But how hard to believe this: that God loves me as I am. So, when you go back home after this mass, stand in front of the mirror, look yourself straight in the eye and say: “God loves me. He loves me as I am”. And try not to laugh. I say that because I know that to some this is ridiculous: all too many people do not like themselves, so they can’t expect God to love them; but he does. This is the good news of Christmas; this is the magic of Christmas.
Christmas is good news. It is the most wonderful news. The birth of Christ gives us hope that all will be well. It gives us hope that all is not hopeless; whether you are living in Nicaragua or England. Today, this day, is the beginning of something new: Your saviour has been born for you. May that truth make you smile, may it make you happy. Christ has come so that all will be well; this is our hope and it will not deceive us.