YEAR B: HOMILY FOR CHRISTMAS VIGIL MASS
HOMILY THEME: JESUS OUR LIGHT AND PEACE
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – Is 9:1-6
R2 – Tit 2:11-14
GOSPEL- Lk 2:1-14
A four-year-old girl went with a group of family and friends to see the Christmas lights, displayed at various locations throughout the city. At one Church, they stopped and got out to look more closely at a beautiful nativity scene. “Isn’t that beautiful?” said the little girl’s grandmother. “Look at all the animals, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.” “Yes, Grandma,” replied the granddaughter. “It is really nice. But there is only one thing that bothers me. Isn’t Baby Jesus ever going to grow up…? He’s the same size he was last year!”
Beloved in Christ, tonight is the glorious night that precedes the nativity of the long-awaited Saviour. We are gathered in this Vigil Mass like the privileged Shepherds who were summoned by the angels in the Gospel reading, to welcome and celebrate the dawn of the baby Jesus’ birth, which occurred some 2,000 years ago. The little 4 years old girl who was bothered at the introit story that the baby Jesus is the same and not growing since last year, has providentially, reminded us of the unchanging nature of the master Jesus, whom the scripture says _”He is the same yesterday, today and forever”_ (Jn 13:8). He is coming into our lives again, like He did some 2000 years ago to Restore Peace and Divinely Illumine our troubled and darkened world.
*JESUS, THE PEACE AND LIGHT OF THE WORLD*
At creation, we realize the world knew three negatives, namely:
(i) תֹ֙הוּ֙ _(to·hu)_ formlessness, confusion, unreality,and void,
(ii) וָבֹ֔הוּ _(va·vo·hu,)_ emptiness from an unused word and
(iii) וְחֹ֖שֶׁךְ _(ve·cho·shech)_ darkness
Firstly, the transforming power of the _*Divine Logos*_ (word) yielded and turned the darkness of the world into light, when God said, _”let there be light”_ (Gen 1:3). That is why Jesus reassures us that He alone is the light of the world (Jn 8:12).
More still, the same _*Divine Logos*_ manifested and transformed the _”to·hu va·vo·hu-like”_ state of the world into a place of stillness, calmness and peace; thereby, relegating the confusion, formlessness, unreality and emptiness of an unused word, with the dynamic force of His creative ingenuity as follows:
▪︎ Gen 1:3 ~ *Let there be light to dispel the darkness that enveloped the universe.*
▪︎Gen 1:6 ~ *Let the earth’s burden, the firmament be lifted to the sky.*
▪︎Gen 1:9 ~ *Let the waters be separated from the soil inorder to create residential abode for man*
▪︎Gen 1:14 ~ *Let the beauty of the world be felt by the presence of the heavenly bodies, viz: sun, moon and stars, etc.*
However, when the world lost this initial peace and light at the garden, through disobedience (Gen 3:6) and wickedness (Gen 6:3), the world knew no peace, while being shrouded in darkness, until the eve of this glorious evening, some 2000 years ago. That is why Isaiah describes Him as the “Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6). This explains the reason why the angelic hosts sang that glorious song in tonight’s Gospel reading:
_”Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of Goodwill.”_ (Lk 1:11).
We are rejoicing tonight, because the troubled world, shrouded in the darkness of sin, has seen light and peace which the world has never experienced since the fall of man at theinauguration of the Christ-Emmanuel Project
Beloved, the circumstances surrounding Christ’s nativity in tonight’s Gospel reading is a message of hope and exortation for us all that no matter what you are passing through, God has remembered you with the birth of a Messiah tonight. Jesus first communicated His Divine presence to the socially low-classed, politically debased, religiously rejected and self depressed set of people: SHEPHERDS. What a GOODNEWS for the depressed, the rejected, the troubled, the worrisome; He came for you and I.
Jesus, choosing shepherds as His first visitors and the first missionaries to spread the Goodnews of His nativity defines and summarises his mission, He came for the despised, rejected, unlovable and unloved. Because, traditionally, the orthodox Jews in Jesus’ time despised the shepherds because these men were quite unable to observe the ceremonial laws in all their details. In addition, shepherds had no spare time to take part in synagogue services nor to study Torah because shepherding was a full-time job.
Further, shepherds were the ones charged with the year-round care and nurture of the Temple sheep which were set aside for the daily morning and evening sacrifice of unblemished lambs. Fittingly, the Infant Jesus chose to share His love on Christmas day with shepherds, for Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
*OUR CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE/GIFT*
Beloved, tonight, Jesus has chosen you and I, challenging us as his first visitors and missionaries to communicate his nativity to the whole world; by establishing PEACE and illuminating our families, environment and world around us as our Christmas gifts to him.
(1) The chosen *shepherds* responded to this great challenge and privilege by bearing witness to God, praising Him and spreading the news of the birth of a Savior. “Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.”
(2) The *Magi* who traveled for days and searched for Him challenges us with the goodwill to generously search for Him and find Him in unlikely places and persons (the poor, the sick, prisoners, unloved) this Christmas. That is made possible for us only if we welcome Jesus of Bethlehem into our lives by allowing Him to be reborn in us. Then we will have the real experience of Christmas – and the joy of the Savior.
(3)The *angelic choir* humbled themselves to perform the traditional Jewish custom of the local musicians who congregated when a boy was born into a Jewish family at the house to greet him with country music, reversing to a celestial melody:
_Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of good will_ (Lk 2:11).
Finally, one of the world’s greatest theologians was asked to be a guest speaker at a seminary symposium. At the end of a captivating closing lecture, the moderator announced that the presenter was not feeling too strong and needed to leave for rejuvenation. “Therefore, I will ask just one question on behalf of all of us.” He returned to the renowned theologian and asked him, ‘Of all the theological insights you have ever had, which do you consider to be the greatest of them all? It was a perfect question for a man who had written literally tens of thousands of pages of some of the sophisticated theology ever put into point. The renowned theologian closed his already dimming eyes, and he thought for a minute, and then he half smiled, opened his eyes, and said to those young seminarians, “The greatest theological insight that I have ever had is this:
_”Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”_
So, go into the world this season, telling them how much Jesus loves them with genuine and charitable gestures as; brokering peace around us, settling disputes and building bridges of love and relationships this Christmas season, because our Messiah has already communicated to us, the way of:
~PEACE = (Jn 21:22)
~LIGHT = (Jn 5:14)
~SACRIFICE = (1Pet 2:21)
~LOVE = (1Jn 4:16)
~RECONCILIATION = (Col 1:15-17)
~HUMILITY = (Phil 2:6-10)
~HOLINESS = (Matt 5:48)
MAY OUR PARTICIPATION IN TONIGHT’S VIGIL MASS DISPEL EVERY DARKNESS AND CHAOS IN OUR LIVES. AND MAY CHRIST, OUR LIGHT AND PEACE FILL OUR DEPTHS WITH CALMNESS AND DIVINE ILLUMINATION.
FR GERALD MUOKA