Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas word, 25 Dec 2007

Solemnity of the Incarnation A (25 Dec 2007) Is 9. 1-6; Ps 96; Ti 3. 4-7; Lk 2. 1-20
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Greatest Gifts

Merry Christmas! Consider what we celebrate on this Solemnity of the Incarnation, which we call Christmas: our Creator entered human history as one of us! That’s beyond our imagining, and yet that is how our Creator responded to human desire for the divine. God often acts in ways we do not, cannot expect. Saint Gregory of Nyssa put it well: “O inexpressible mystery and unheard paradox: the Invisible is seen, the Intangible is touched, the eternal Word becomes accessible to our speech, the Timeless steps into time, the Son of God becomes the [human] Son of [Mary]!”

All wrapped in silence as the carol sings. Let’s sing the first verse of "Silent Night."

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child.
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

We sang three qualities belonging to this silence: "holy"; "calm"; and "bright." Subsequent verses elaborate on the word "bright": One is glory, referring to heavenly, angelic light, which dawned on shepherds at night-time. Let’s sing the 2d verse.

Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar,
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born,
Christ the Savior is born!

Another verse specifies heavenly glory as radiance, the “radiant beams” from the Infant’s face. Let’s sing that 3d verse.

Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

While it began in silence, the silent light brightening that silent night, the angels spoke but didn’t have the last word. The shepherds continued what angels began. Shepherds proclaimed the birth of Jesus, namely God who could be seen; touched; who became accessible to people as a person: When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.

Like the shepherds we visit Bethlehem, too, and marvel in God’s human birth. Our lives, our vocations are to do as the shepherds: we are not to linger long at the manger; we leave to make known to others our Lord Jesus by how we choose, act and live. No gift can match God’s self-gift in Jesus by their Holy Spirit. God desires us to be shepherd-like in making Jesus known. Making Jesus known by our very lives is the greatest gift each of us gives our world.
Wiki-images: of Giorgione's Adoration in the public domain and made available under the terms of the GFDL; of the Annunciation to the Shepherds is in the public domain .

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