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HOMILY - CHRISTMAS 2016

 

 

God is a loving and caring Father. He created everything for the sake of man, who is His favourite creature. Gud loved to walk together and speak with man in the garden of Paradise. His great plan for man was, that after a period of living here on earth and ruling over all of God’s creatures as His faithful administator, God would take him to Himself in Heaven and place him at His right hand on His trone of glory in complete union with Himself for all eternity. Yes, this was God’s plan, that man was to become like god. But man had in stead listened to Satan, who explained Gods plan, however, with a slight twist, namely, that man on his own could achieve to become like god. Man came to reject God. This original sin surrendered man completely into the hands and power of Satan, whose objective was the total destruction of man. Man could no longer achieve the goal of his life, that God had given him – the perfect union with God, to see God face to face and to participate in His divinity in perfect happiness for all eternity. This door was totally closed for man. But as a real and truly loving and caring Father, who longs with deep suffering for his wayward child, God chose to do everything in His power to set man free from the claws of Satan and Hell and eternal death, and to bring man back to Himself as an even more beautiful creature. God chose to become human Himself, to be born of a woman. Yes, He chose to be as close as possible to us, to always be with us.


God came to pay the enormous price incured by man’s sin. He came to die, to shed His blood. This is the meaning of Christmas. We cannot understand Christmas/the birth of Christ in Bethlehem without at the same time speaking about sin and Hell and our absolute need for salvation. God’s only begotten Son became a real human being in order to reconcile us with God. He became man to set us free from death and corruption, and to transform us to His own adopted sons and daughters. In other words, God became man to unite us with His divinity. So intense is God’s love for each one of us.


In the first sentence in the first reading this Christmas night the prophet Isaiah writes that ”the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”. This sentence will not have any meaning, if one is not aware of and admits, that one is in the darkness of sin and the powers of Hell and cannot set himself free from these. Because this light, Isaiah here speaks about, is Maria’s son, Jesus, who is God Himself in flesh and blood, born to liberate mankind from darkness and lead it to the Kingdom of divine light.


But when one is clear about this truth, then the message of the angels to the shepherds is much more than just good news. ”Glory to God in the highest! And on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.”


In the 2.reading this night Paul writes, that to receive God’s favour comes alone from God’s grace, which is poured out over mankind by the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. This grace can only be active in man through genuine repentance for sin and conversion of heart, by accepting God’s mercy and forgiveness and the gift of Faith. When one has accepted the gift of Faith, that is, faith in Jesus Christ, it is extremely important that one lives his life in accordance with this faith in Christ, live a genuine Christ-life in all its dimensions. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross has redeemed man from all sin, has purified ham from all the impurities of sin and has created a people of His own, who are eager to do good deeds, the good deeds that God Himself has prepared for man to walk in, as Paul tells us in his letter to the Church in Ephesus.


God’s Son became man to die, to offer His life, to shed His blood in order to set us free from sin’s and Hell’s slavery and total destruction. If one does not say ”yes” to this truth with his whole heart, then Christ’s birth is meningless. It is only a clanging cymbal, a noisy gong, nothing more than a festive holiday, surely a beautiful and joyous holiday that brings forth good and warm feelings and good will to others, but which on the day after sives out like air from a ballon.


In the short passage from his letter to Titus, which we heard this night, Paul tells about the consequence of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem and the reality it opens up for us, to which we in no way can be indifferent, if our life is have meaning and we are enabled to conquer all resistence and hindrances, that life throws in our way, in order to become more and more a genuine human being, who has God’s favour. God is our loving and caring Father, who takes care of each one of us. He is always with us. It is this fantastic truth, the birth of Jesus Christ tells clearly and distinctly. And we have an enormous need for such a Father.

 

 

 

Paul Marx, omi

parish priest