Nativity of the Lord – Year C – Saturday, December 25, 2021
GOD’S LOVE HAS NEW BEGINNING
The story starts out where she, Beth, is sitting at an airport terminal, waiting to board a plane. She was sitting there with several other people whom she did not know who were also waiting. As she waited, she pulled out her Bible and started reading. Suddenly, she felt as if the people sitting around her were looking at her. She looked up but realized that they were looking just over her head, in the direction right behind her.
She turned around to see what everyone was looking at, and when she did, she saw a stewardess pushing a wheelchair, with the ugliest old man that she had ever seen before sitting in it. She said he had this long white hair that was all tangled and such a mess. His face was really, really wrinkled, and he didn’t look friendly at all.
She didn’t know why, but she felt drawn to the man, and thought at first that God wanted her to witness to him. In her mind she said she was thinking, “Oh, God, please, not now, not here.” No matter what she did, she couldn’t get the man off of her mind, and all of a sudden, she knew what God wanted her to do. She was supposed to brush this old man’s hair.
She went and knelt in front of the old man, and said “Sir, may I have the honor of brushing your hair for you?” He said “What?” She thought, “Oh great, he’s hard of hearing.” Again, a little louder, she said, “Sir, may I have the honor of brushing your hair for you?” He answered, “If you are going to talk to me, you are going to have to speak up, I am practically deaf.” So, this time, she was almost yelling, “Sir may I please have the honor of brushing your hair for you?”
Everyone was watching to see what his response would be. The old man just looked at her confused, and said “Well, I guess if you really want to.” She said, “I don’t even have a brush, but I thought I would ask anyway.” He said, “Look in the bag hanging on the back of my chair, there is a brush in there.” So, she got the brush out and started brushing his hair. She had a little girl with long hair, so she had lots of practice getting tangles out, and knew how to be gentle with him. She worked for a long time, until every tangle was out.
Just as she was finishing up, she heard the old man crying, and she went and put her hands on his knees, kneeling in front of him again looking directly into his eyes, and said “Sir, do you know Jesus?” He answered, “Yes, of course I know Jesus. You see, my bride told me she couldn’t marry me unless I knew Jesus, so I learned all about Jesus, and asked Him to come into my heart many years ago, before I married my bride.” He continued, “You know, I am on my way home to go and see my wife. I have been in the hospital for a long time and had to have a special surgery in this town far from my home. My wife couldn’t come with me because she is so frail herself.” He said, “I was so worried about how terrible my hair looked, and I didn’t want her to see me looking so awful, but I couldn’t brush my hair, all by myself. “Tears were rolling down his cheeks, as he thanked Beth for brushing his hair. He thanked her over and over again.
She was crying, people all around witnessing this were crying, and as they were all boarding the plane, the stewardess, who was also crying, stopped her, and asked, “Why did you do that?” And right there was the opportunity, the door that had been opened to share with someone else, the love of God. We don’t always understand God’s ways, but be ready, He may use us to meet the need of someone else, like He met the need of this old man, and in that moment, also calling out to a lost soul who needed to know about His love.
We can ask “Why God decided to show his love? Why couldn’t God wait little longer to send his Son?” I believe the answers to these questions we can find in our preparation during the four weeks of Advent. First, God gave us Hope to have in him and wait. This theme of hope started with Adam and Eve when God promised them a Savior. And later to his chosen people through Law and prophets that “behold a virgin with a son whom she will name “Emmanuel” which means God is with us. Secondly, God wanted “Peace” to prevail, and he sent us the Prince of Peace. This was new beginning of God’s love to be seen that became man and dwelt among us. Thirdly, God wanted us to rejoice when we reflected on the theme of “Joy”. Joy does help us to understand that God wants us to be joyful and welcome his Son with open hearts and minds. Lately we reflected on the theme “Love” which is the source and summit of our whole liturgy and faith that God shared our humanity so that we can share in his divinity because “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Begotten Son”.
One day, I woke early in the morning to watch the sunrise. Ah! … the beauty of God’s creation is beyond description. As I watched, I praised God for His beautiful work. As I sat there, I felt the Lord’s presence with me. He asked me, “Do you love me?” I answered, “Of course, God! You are my Lord and Savior!”
Then He asked, “If you were physically handicapped, would you still love me?”
I was perplexed. I looked down upon my arms, legs and the rest of my body and wondered how many things I would not be able to do and thought about the things that I take for granted. I answered, “It would be tough Lord, but I would still love You.” Then the Lord said, “If you were blind, would you still love my creation?”
How could I love something without being able to see it? Then I thought of all the blind people in the world and how many of them still loved God and His creation. So, I answered, “It’s hard to think of it, but I would still love you.” The Lord then asked me, “If you were deaf, would you still listen to my word?”
How could I listen to anything being deaf? Then I understood. Listening to God’s Word is not merely using our ears, but our hearts. I answered, “It would be tough, but I would still listen to Your word.” The Lord then asked, “If you were mute, would you still praise My Name?”
How could I praise without a voice? Then it occurred to me, God wants us to sing from our very hearts and souls. It never matters what we sound like. And praising God is not always with a song, but when we are persecuted, we give God praise with our words of thanks. So, I answered, “Though I could not physically sing, I would still praise Your Name.”
And the Lord asked, “Do you really love Me?” With courage and a strong conviction, I answered boldly, “Yes Lord! I love You because You are the one and true God!” I thought I had answered well, but God asked, “Then why do you sin?” I answered, “Because I am only human. I am not perfect.” “Then why in times of peace do you stray the furthest? Why only in times of trouble do you pray the earnest?” I had no answers … only tears.
The Lord continued. “Why only sing at fellowships and retreats? Why seek Me only in times of worship? Why ask things so selfishly? Why ask things so unfaithfully?” The tears continued to roll down my cheeks. “Why are you ashamed of Me? Why are you not spreading the good news? Why in times of persecution, you cry to others when I offer My shoulder to cry on? Why make excuses when I give you opportunities to serve in My Name?”
“You are blessed with life. I made you not to throw this gift away. I have blessed you with talents to serve Me, but you continue to turn away. I have revealed My Word to you, but you do not gain in knowledge. I have spoken to you, but your ears were closed. I have shown My blessings to you, but your eyes were turned away. I have heard your prayers and I have answered them all. Do you truly love me?
I could not answer. How could I? I was embarrassed beyond belief. I had no excuse. What could I say to this? When my heart had cried out and the tears had flowed, I said, “Please forgive me Lord. I am unworthy to be Your child.” The Lord answered, “That is My Grace, My child.” I asked, “Then why do you continue to forgive me? Why do You love me so?” The Lord answered, ” Because you are My creation. You are my child. I will never abandon you. When you cry, I will have compassion and cry with you. When you shout with joy, I will laugh with you. When you are down, I will encourage you. When you fall, I will raise you up. When you are tired, I will carry you. I will be with you until the end of days, and I will love you forever.”
Never had I cried so hard before. How could I have been so cold? How could I have hurt God as I had done? I asked God, “How much do You love me?” The Lord stretched out His arms, and I saw His nail-pierced hands. I bowed down at the feet of Christ, my Savior. And for the first time, I truly prayed.
The beginning of God’s love though started with Adam and Eve, but it took physical shape through the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary who was born without Original Sin. God prepared her to be Sacred Tabernacle to hold the Word in womb. The beginning of God’s love started taking shape with the consent of Blessed Virgin Mary “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me, according to your Word”. The “Yes” of Blessed Virgin Mary changed the history of the world and people, the very first time were able to see God walking in their streets. Moreover, they witnessed that God not only walks in their streets but also eats with them and cries with them “Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and over Lazarus ‘death”.
The Nicene Creed does not use the exact word “Savior” in speaking of Jesus, but it does state the reason why the Word of God became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.” The purpose of the Incarnation was to affect the salvation of all mankind. St. Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15 that “Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners.”
We know from revelation, especially from Genesis and the infallible teaching of the Church, that in the beginning God created man in a state of innocence and friendship with himself. As a result of man’s rejection of God’s love, he lost his original innocence, came under the power of sin and the devil, and was subject to death. Having lost God’s grace, which was a pure gift to begin with and thus something to which he had no just claim, man became an outcast, unable to achieve the noble destiny to which God had ordained him.
Since man could not save himself from sin, he could not by his own efforts regain the grace of God, God in his own infinite wisdom resolved to become man. Thus Jesus, the God-man, was able to make satisfaction to God’s justice, for all his actions had infinite worth. Very succinctly, therefore, the Creed proclaims that the reason for the Word becoming flesh was to accomplish the salvation of men. And when the Creed says “men” it means “all men” without any distinction as to race, color, or creed. God’s salvation is not restricted to any chosen people. In the writings of St. Paul, we learn that faith in Christ was first offered to the Jews and then to the gentiles. Some Jews accepted it, and some rejected it, just as some gentiles believed and some did not.
When the Church says that “he came down from heaven”, she is referring to the pre-existence of the divine Word that became man in Jesus of Nazareth. Thus, the Person who is Jesus existed from all eternity in the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The meaning is that he did not commence his existence with his conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. He began to be in his human nature only.
St. Leo the Great reflects on the mystery of God’s love in this way “Dearly beloved, today our Savior is born; let us rejoice. Sadness should have no place on the birthday of life. The fear of death has been swallowed up; life brings us joy with the promise of eternal happiness. No one is shut out from this joy; all share the same reason for rejoicing. Our Lord, victor over sin and death, finding no man free from sin, came to free us all. Let the saint rejoice as he sees the palm of victory at hand. Let the sinner be glad as he receives the offer of forgiveness. Let the pagan take courage as he is summoned to life.
In the fullness of time, chosen in the unfathomable depths of God’s wisdom, the Son of God took for himself our common humanity to reconcile it with its creator. He came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he had overthrown mankind. And so, at the birth of our Lord the angels sing in joy: Glory to God in the highest, and they proclaim peace to his people on earth as they see the heavenly Jerusalem being built from all the nations of the world. When the angels on high are so exultant at this marvelous work of God’s goodness, what joy should it not bring to the lowly hearts of men? Beloved, let us give thanks to God the Father, through his Son, in the Holy Spirit, because in his great love for us he took pity on us, and when we were dead in our sins he brought us to life with Christ, so that in him we might be a new creation. Let us throw off our old nature and all its ways and, as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh. Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.
Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.
The grace which was revealed in our world is Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, true man and true God. He has entered our history; he has shared our journey. He came to free us from darkness and to grant us light. In him was revealed the grace, the mercy, and the tender love of the Father: Jesus is Love incarnate. He is not simply a teacher of wisdom; he is not an ideal for which we strive while knowing that we are hopelessly distant from it. He is the meaning of life and history, who has pitched his tent in our midst. He is the beginning of God’s love who died for us to grant us eternal life.
Let’s see God’s love in the year to come and understand that he loves and if he loves us then our obligation is to love him in the same way by loving our brothers and sisters.
Wishing you all Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2022 with prayers and hope that your lives will be filled with his love which is beyond comparison.
Other Sermons In This Series
Solemnity of Christ the King (34th Sunday) Year C ~ November 20, 2022
November 18, 2022
Solemnity of Holy Trinity Year C ~ June 12, 2022
June 10, 2022
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C – Sunday, January 16, 2022
January 14, 2022