December 2023 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community, Palm Springs CA
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Isaiah 52:7-10 | Psalm 98:1-6
Hebrews 1:1-6 | John 1:1-5;9-14
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
As we gather here to celebrate the Holy Day of Christmas, the incarnation of God’s Son, let us reflect on the words of today’s Gospel from John as John proclaims the greatness and glory of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
Our first reading from Isaiah is a call to us to rejoice in the ”Good News” of hope, redemption, and restoration. It symbolizes liberation which alludes to the birth of Jesus, the ultimate liberator of our souls.
The sentinels, also known as watchmen, lift their voices together and sing to rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. It signifies that our faith is a testament to the fulfillment of God’s promise.
In our second reading from Hebrews, the author tells us that “Christ is better than the prophets and the angels.
The Book of Hebrews is unique in that we don’t know who the author is. It is written by an anonymous person who many scholars believe to be Paul the Apostle. But according to Adam McCoy of the Order of the Holy Cross, who we had dinner with earlier this week, the style of writing in Hebrews is not consistent with that of the erudite Paul.
So, although we do not know for certain who the author is, we do know something about the recipients: first, they were believers in Jesus; secondly, they were wavering in their faith, since they were Christians who were Jewish, and as such, they were persecuted. Therefore, the Book of Hebrews was written for them to encourage them to not return to a version of Judaism that does not accept Jesus.
In our Gospel today from John, he tells us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. Through the Word, all things were made, and in Him was life. From this, we understand that Jesus is not simply a teacher or a prophet, but He is God Himself, made manifest in human form.
This is the true mystery of the incarnation, the moment when God enters our world taking on human flesh and dwelling among us. It is a momentous event, one that we commemorate and celebrate every Christmas. And yet, it is also a moment that goes beyond our human knowledge and understanding.
Let us remember the true meaning of this Holy Day. Let us remember that the Son of God has now come into our midst, bringing with Him His gift of salvation and reconciling us to God as well as the promise of eternal life. Let us rejoice in the knowledge that we are loved by a God who is willing to enter our suffering and our pain.
We live today in a very selfish world, filled with resentment, hostility, and hate. There are people, (and you probably know some) who view Christmas with an attitude of “What am I going to get?” This is the path of life that leads to misery.
It is through our gratitude to God for His love and everything He has done for us that is the path to happiness and fulfillment. Pope Francis reminds us that gratitude is “the interior attitude that we should deem most important.” As such, we should want to live our lives by doing God’s will, by doing what is pleasing to Him…which means living a life of giving, not getting.
The Good News that we celebrate today is that God has come to save us and rid us of the forces of darkness. Jesus lives and He will accompany us through all our pains and sorrows.
So rejoice! As our Psalmist says “Sing joyfully to the Lord all you lands, break into song, sing praise. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.”
May the light of Christ shine on us this Christmas Day and every day of our lives. Let us pray that we may be filled with His grace and love and that we may follow Him always by living our lives to reflect His glory and proclaim His Word to all the world! Amen.