25th December; 2015
GOD’S MERCY in merciless times
This year, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, 8th Dec., Pope Francis opened the Holy Doors of the Church and ushered us into the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy.
Tonight, as we stand on the threshold of Christmas 2015, let us open the doors of our lives to our wonderful God who draws us into his merciful embrace with the tender inviting arms and the innocent warm smile of a child; Tonight, the Holy Spirit moves us in turn to spontaneously embrace the Babe of Bethlehem, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world.
Christmas! What a singular strategy of Divine Mercy which only a loving and forgiving God could design for us.
Let us begin our Christmas Eucharist with contrite hearts, acknowledging our unworthiness and humbly imploring God’s mercy fo transform us into Merciful Christians. (pause)
I confess ……May Almighty God have mercy on us …….
Notwithstanding the growing commercialization of Christmas with sinister efforts to reduce it to a secular holiday or to replace it with Good Governance Day; and despite the increasing hostility towards Christ and Christians, in several countries, you and I are here tonight to confirm our Faith and proclaim with joy to the world that mankind will live for evermore because of that First Christmas, in Bethlehem.
The First Christmas was not a ‘bedtime story’ that lulls us to sleep in the silence of a holy night and wakes us up with Jingle bells and Santa’s stockings;
- the First Christmas was not an expensive birthday party with colorful dresses and delicious dishes, celebrated under star-studded skies;
- the First Christmas was not even a musical extravaganza of ‘red-nosed reindeer songs’ and dancing melodies.
Lest we get trapped in such distorted festivities, and abandon the sacred mystery of Salvation and the deeper message of Forgiveness, let us tonight revise our Bible history and renew our Christian faith in the greatest story ever told – Christmas,
Far from being a philosophical myth or theological dogma, the First Christmas, as the Holy Bible states, marks the History of a Lifetime Mystery – God with us – Emmanuel!
Since the last 2015 years, Christmas commemorates the greatness and the dignity of the human person, created by God to his own image.
At this time, we are celebrating God who loved the world so much that in the fullness of time, He sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, born of a woman, to redeem His sacred image, distorted by Original Sin. It is because of this redeemed image of God imprinted in every human person that any offence against the human person is an offence against God and every denial of God ends up being a denial of the greatness and the dignity of the human person. In order to teach us what it means to be truly human, and to save us from further abuse of humanity, God became man in Jesus the Christ, fully human and always divine. Christmas must impress upon us, the sacred worth and sublime dignity of every human life from the first instant until natural death.
Christmas, as the angels sang, is a feast of Joy to the world. giving glory to God in the highest and bringing peace to people of good will. Christmas is a family feast of Christ the Light who enlightens our homes and brightens our universe as proclaimed by the Prophet Isaiah: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in the land of deep shadow a light has shone. You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as people rejoice at harvest time. For there is a child born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counselor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Word, Promoter-of-Peace
However, while we celebrate Christmas 2015, we are sadly aware that Life, particularly, Human life is murdered and destroyed by the merciless culture of death. Today, our faith in Christmas as a celebration of pardon and peace is challenged.
We witness Human Life not as a dignified triumph, but a degrading tragedy marred by beastly Terrorism and Bomb blasts; Communal Violence and mini wars; Abortion and Euthanasia; murders and Suicides; Caste conflicts and Honor Killings. Called by God to be stewards of his creation, we are recklessly destroying our “Common Home” by exploiting Nature and poisoning the environment. Global warming and “climate change” are sharp warnings that our world is hurtling down to Doom’s Day. What we are seeing today is the entrenching of the ‘Culture of Death and Darkness’ in the world at large and even infiltrating into the hearts and minds of our non-violent and peace-loving people of India..
In this scenario, we disciples of Jesus Chris must not be prophets of doom and disaster. Not at Christmas time! Rather, inspired by the encouraging assurance of Jesus, “Do not be afraid, I am with you till the end of times” and guided by the Holy Spirit through the upfront prophetic and pastoral leadership of our Holy Father, Pope Francis, we Christians must firmly believe and proclaim that God still loves the world; We await in Hope and believe that Mankind will live for ever more, because Christmas celebrates the fact that God full of mercy in Jesus Christ will come again in power and glory to establish a counter culture of Peace over Violence, Light over Darkness, and Life over Death.
By the solemn opening of Cathedral doors, the world over, and announcing The Extraordinary Holy Year, Pope Francis urges us, the Church to boldly confront the merciless and meaningless destructive forces of Evil by upholding the banner of God’s Mercy.
In his papal letter, entitled ‘Misericordiae vultus’, the Face of Mercy, Pope Francis chalks out a a very practical Peace plan of action for us to follow. He reminds us that Mercy is not an abstract concept but rather, a face to recognize, a truth to contemplate and a recipe to serve through corporal and spiritual works of Mercy. Jesus by His own example has given us a Gospel of Mercy, so full of simple parables, compassionate images and forgiving episodes.
This Holy Year is Mercy time, and Christmas heralds an extraordinary campaign which states that the only answer to satanic evil and cruel violence, is not destructive retaliation but rather, better Communication and patient Dialogue to obtain Peaceful justice and genuine Communion in our lives, in our families, among nations and throughout the universe.
To us Christians, Christmas is Divine Mercy Incarnate urging us to welcome the God of forgiveness through the sacrament of Confession and reconciliation and nourished by the Holy Eucharist, to be forgiving and merciful ourselves. Yes, Christmas is a Gospel Imperative to love and protect all forms of life , but especially to defend Human Rights against abortion, euthanasia, female infanticide, caste and honor killings.
Christmas is infact, a missionary mandate. Jesus Christ, sent by our merciful Father, has chosen us and sends us to share in his mission of Forgiveness. As partners with Jesus, the Prince of Peace, let us make Christmas 2015 a season of reconciliation , love and joyful peace, within our own families and communities; our neighborhood and work places.
May Mary of Nazareth, whom we devoutly address: Hail Holy Queen, Mother of mercy strengthen our Faith in Jesus, the Divine Mercy and sustain our Hope as we journey through this vale of trials and tears.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit and nourished by the transforming Bread of Life at this Holy Eucharist let us go out to celebrate not only a merciful Christmas Day -2015, but a Holy Year, 2016 of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace.