Homily for Christmas, December 25
Christmas is upon us again! This morning I watched a very cute video clip on Good Morning Gloucester of a darling little four-year-old girl named Madeleine (“Maddie”) talking about Christmas. She says she loves the presents, but knows it’s really about the Baby Jesus’ birthday. Then she goes back to talking about the presents again…
I was impressed that she remembered the Baby Jesus without being prompted. And it’s no surprise she mostly talks about the presents; after all, everyone loves Christmas gifts, especially little children! I’m sure that if someone were to ask us what presents we got for Christmas, we’d remember most of them right away – all the gadgets, books, clothes, and gift certificates that we received. But I hope that we, like Maddie, would also remember the true meaning of Christmas, and say that the greatest gift that we received today is Jesus Christ the Lord, God made man.
Some presents we can just unwrap and hang on the wall, like a still life painting that an artist gave me this Christmas. Other presents are more interactive, like a cell phone or an iPad. Those are not meant to be hung on a wall or stored; they are meant to be used and explored every day. They are full of options and features, and it would be a shame if we just said “Thank you!” and put them away without ever using them.
That’s the way it is with Jesus, God among us. We have to unwrap it and explore all its features and options – like the seven sacraments. God gave them to us to help us every day in our ups and downs of life, kind of like apps on our mobile devices, but much better. We have Baptism to make us children of God. We have Confirmation to help us be strong in our faith. Are we in love? There’s an app – sorry, a sacrament – for that: Marriage! Have we sinned? There’s a sacrament for that: Reconciliation! Are we sick? There’s a sacrament for that: Anointing of the Sick! And there’s Holy Orders to give us priests to give us access to the other sacraments. And, there’s the one we should use most often, at least once a week: the Eucharist, the bread of life.
So as we celebrate the birth of Jesus and enjoy our presents, let’s not forget to enjoy the greatest gift of all, God’s presence among us, active and accessible through the sacraments. Let’s not get to next Easter or Christmas realizing that we have left this precious gift in it’s box, neglected and unused. Rather, let’s explore all the sacred “apps” of our Christian life, so that the joy and hope of Christmas fills every day of the year.