Malankara World

Christmas Sermon - The Birthday of Jesus

Homily - The Nativity of the Lord, at the Vigil Mass

by Fr. Daren J. Zehnle

Dear brothers and sisters,

As we wait here in vigil in the darkness of the night, we "know that the Lord is coming to save us, and in the morning [we] shall see his glory" (Exodus 16:6-7). We await the birth of the one who is mightier than the last of the prophets (cf. Matthew 3:11); we await the birth of "Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham" (Matthew 1:1).

This period of waiting is one of joyful expectation; it is the culmination of the season of Advent, a blessed and holy time. It is a time of deep and profound silence in imitation of Saint Joseph.

Joseph’s role is too often passed over in our thoughts. Let us, then, turn for a moment toward this holy man, "who lived with unique intensity the period of expectation and preparation for Jesus’ birth."[1] If we look to him, we will learn how to prepare ourselves for his birth.

When the angel of the Lord said to him, "do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into home," Joseph offered neither objection nor question (Matthew 1:20). Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, doubted Gabriel’s announcement of John’s conception; Mary asked Gabriel for clarification; Joseph accepted as his duty and privilege the task entrusted to him: "She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). It is his silence in the presence of the mystery of Christmas that particularly strikes us.

Too often silence is seen today as a sign of confusion, weakness or loss, but this is not the case with Joseph. His "silence does not express an inner emptiness but, on the contrary, the fullness of the faith he bears in his heart and which guides his every thought and action."[2] His silence is a sign of his knowledge, strength and the gift he has received.

It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in union with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing the Lord, of the adoration of his holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence.[3]

It is a silence born of awe and wonder, one that we would do well to emulate.

Indeed, before so great a mystery as the birth of the only Son of God, of God made man, what else is there to do but kneel down in humble and silent adoration? What words could possibly be uttered in the presence of the Divine Child? For this reason that ancient and beloved hymn sings,

Let all mortal flesh keep silence
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded,
for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth
our full homage to demand.

This is the mindset of the one who awaits in silence, with Blessed Joseph, the birth of the Christ Child.

In these last few hours before the birth of the Messiah, let us heed the plea of our Holy Father:

Let us allow ourselves to be "filled" with Saint Joseph’s silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God’s voice, we are in such deep need of it… [L]et us cultivate inner recollection in order to welcome and cherish Jesus in our own lives.[4]

Let each of us this night approach the manger of Bethlehem in humble silence, ready to adore the Holy Infant when he is born. Amen! A merry Christmas to you all!

Notes:

[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus Address, 18 December 2005.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.

See Also:

Homily - The Nativity of the Lord by Fr. Daren J. Zehnle
Can there be anything more vulnerable or defenseless than a newborn child? Yet it is precisely this that the Son of God becomes for us to manifest the depth of his great love.

Homily - Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord
Tonight I wish to focus on the statue of St. Joseph as a way to come to a deeper understanding of the mystery of Christmas. Take a look at this Joseph, if you will.

Christmas Homily by Fr. Andrew
Which Christmas scene do our hearts desire? Do our hearts desire the soft, the quiet, the hidden scene of Bethlehem? Do our hearts desire the loud, the brash, the bold proclamation of the field? Where would God have us meet Him?

Homily: The Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord by Fr. Daren J. Zehnle
This night a savior is born for us, he who is Emmanuel (cf. Matthew 1:23). God is with us! He is not far from us, but here in our midst. The Creator of all things has made himself a creature and entered his creation. This is a message that cannot leave us indifferent.

Homily: At the Vigil of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ by Fr. Daren J. Zehnle
Bethlehem, the city of David in which Jesus was born, means "house of bread." Jesus, the Bread of Life, was placed in a manger, a feeding trough for the animals. Through the Holy Mass he gives himself to us continually as our food, to be nourished and strengthened by him who gave himself for us.

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