The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord “Building a Home for the Christ Child” PDF Version
Christmas Homily 2018
A school gymnasium is not the place we would prefer to celebrate Mass for Christmas. We all have fond memories of Christmas Mass taking place in our parish churches, with the Nativity scene beneath the altar or within the sanctuary, Christmas trees providing extra lights for the candles burning brightly throughout the church and Christmas carols proclaiming that Christ the Lord is born today.
Such is not the setting of our celebration within this school gym and for many of us this is not where we hoped to be for Christmas Mass. But there is something profoundly Christmas in our gathering in this school gymnasium for the Holy Mass today, void of the beauty and sentiment that marks Christmas Mass in parish churches both humble and grand the world over.
What makes our celebration embody the spirit and wonder of Christmas is that first celebration of Christ’s birth was also celebrated in a place that His parents did not desire to be, but by the will of God, accepted that a humble stable cave would be the birthplace of Only Begotten Son of God.
We can imagine our Lady would have dreamed of a much different place to celebrate the birth of her son. A warm home, clean and safe, just as all mothers long to bring their children into our world in a place surrounded by warmth, cleanliness and safety, which is all the more scandalous in our world today when we imagine the countless women who are denied a dignified place to give birth to their children and receive proper post partum care once their children are born.
St. Joseph, upon looking at the stable cave where the Son of God would be born, perhaps felt a mix of frustration and noble desire to have built a home of his own at that very place, using his carpentry skills to give His son a proper home for his birth and his wife a sanctuary to rejoice in the newborn that would rest peacefully in her arms.
Both Holy Mary and St. Joseph would have wanted so much more to be offered to celebrate the birth of their son, but they were exactly where God the Father willed them to be, and so that tiny stable cave in the shepherd’s fields of Bethlehem, the most unlikely and undesirable place for the Son of God to be born, became the birthplace of our salvation.
It was also in this humble abode that the Mother of God and adopted father of Our Saviour began to plan to build a home for their son, one that after their escape to Egypt would take many years to become a reality, but when God willed the family to return to Nazareth, He assured that His Son would know the joy of having a home especially made for Him, even if Jesus owns the entire world and all of creation…
So too my friends do we gather for Christmas to pray in a place that is not our desired place to celebrate Christmas Mass, but this is where God wills for us to be. It is also here that we dream and prepare to make a new home for Jesus Christ; for that is first and foremost what our new shrine will be: a home for Jesus Christ, a sanctuary to contain His glory, a place of peace for many to come and see and allow Jesus Christ to enter into their lives, in ways both expected and by paths unknown.
Two Sundays ago I shared with many of you about the incredible experience I had in mid-December at the Monte Tabor Monastery near Tecate and Tijuana in Mexico. When a few sisters arrived on the summit of a rocky hill in northern Mexico in the early 1990’s, they desired to build a home of Jesus Christ. It began as two small trailers on the back of two pickup trucks, so small that the sisters could barely fit inside.
This was their stable cave of Bethlehem. There they adored the Christ Child as they placed the Blessed Sacrament in a small tin can that they made into a humble monstrance, many days going without food, at times because they gave what they had to feed the poor instead of themselves, but trusting that this was where God willed for them to be.
Many years later, the two trailers are gone and in their place is a beautiful monastery, complete with a soup kitchen and residences for priests and other guests, a truly glorious home for Jesus Christ!
It is here that not only the sisters continue to pray before the Christ Child in the Holy Eucharist, but also make their home a place of refugee, pilgrimage and love for the poor, whose poverty exists in both the material and spiritual senses, and who make their way up the mountain to be loved by the Sisters, and more importantly, to be loved by Christ as they enter His home, and allow their hearts to be touched by Jesus, in both the Blessed Sacrament they adore and the love that radiates from the sisters who care for them.
Prayer, love, trust and sacrifice allowed a handful of sisters to build a beautiful home for their Saviour. They are now praying for our parish to do the same! And so too through prayer, love, trust and sacrifice we will build a new home for Jesus Christ, moving from the stable cave we find ourselves within now until we will arrive at our Nazareth, our home for Jesus Christ!
In this holy time that we celebrate the Birth of Our Saviour, may it also be a time that we ponder the mysterious ways of God and the manifold ways He asks for us to build a home for His Son.
And so I would like to personally thank each of you for being at our celebration today. Thank you for your prayers, especially those for the poor, both physically and spiritually poor, and your prayers for the building of our new shrine.
Thank you for your love, the love each of us has in our hearts for Christ and others and the love we will bring to the new shrine.
Thank you for your trust, that God is with us and will not forsake us; for He is guiding us daily as we build a new shrine for His Glory.
And thank you for your sacrifice, especially for whatever donations you are able to provide for the building of our new shrine. Remember that your treasure goes to building a home for the Christ Child, and He will not fail reward those who look to build up His Kingdom, in part in this life, and in great fullness in the world to come!
A blessed Christmas to one and all!