This homily was given at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, Sutherlin, OR on Christmas Day, December 25, 2022.
One dark night, a child was born.
He was born into a thick and heavy darkness, not only covering the eyes, but the minds and the hearts of man.
The darkness had weighed on us for centuries upon centuries, from generation to generation, as the whole world cried out with one question, one greatquestion:
Who is God?
It’s the greatest and most important question of our human existence, because who He is determines who we are, the meaning and purpose of our life on this earth, and what comes after.
The Greeks sought God in philosophy, with reason and logical proofs.
They concluded, thousands of years before Christ, that there must be one Supreme Being, one Uncreated Creator of everything else there is.
They knew by reason that God must exist … but they did not know him.
They could not reason their way to discover this Supreme Being’s name, or his nature, or anything at all about who he is, what he’s like.
The long history of philosophy and human religions is the story of man seeking God in the darkness, groping for the truth by night, seeking but not finding, only seeing partial and obscure glimpses of the mystery.
Centuries before Christ, the prophet Isaiah sang: “Truly you are a hidden God, dwelling in inaccessible light!”
As long as God remained hidden, the hearts of humankind were restless and unsatisfied, searching everywhere for the deepest truth of our existence.
Who is God?
Who is this Supreme Being, who is this Creator, who is it who holds the keys of life and death, who is it in whose image and likeness we are made, who holds the secret of our being, the reason of our existence, the purpose for which we were made and live and suffer and rejoice?
Some became afraid of finding the answer to the question: maybe there was no God there to find; maybe we are children of an absent Father!
Or maybe God is a tyrant, an abuser, who inflicts pain and suffering without lifting a finger to help.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come among us to answer the greatest question of our human hearts.
He reveals the whole mystery of God in Himself.
“God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets, but to us he has spoken through His Son.”
The Son of God, who reveals the face and the heart of the Father.
Who is God?
Look at the Nativity scene and see for yourselves!
God, who made the heavens and the earth, who set the stars in their courses, who created the universe and all humankind, God … is a little baby.
As we gaze upon the Nativity, so familiar to us, we discover that in these simple figures, the mystery of God is laid bare for our eyes to see: God made visible, touchable, adorable, unveiled, exposed, vulnerable before us.
God becomes a little baby precisely to reveal the depths of His heart for us.
For a God who can become a little child, laid in a manger among the straw, is a very different God than the philosophers could have imagined … different than the Jews ever predicted!
This is a God overflowing with love, a God who makes Himself poor and lowly so that we, little nothings that we are, might be lifted high, saved from the misery of sin and death, and filled with light and life.
This is a God who descends from the heights of heavenly glory to the depths of our poverty and hopelessness, into our darkness, into our sin and weakness, to save us and transform us and bring us back to Himself.
Now, today, all the ends of the earth have seen God and his saving power.
Not power as we would expect; not power to force and coerce us to bend to God’s will.
No, the power of God is His glorious weakness: His making Himself the smallest, the weakest, to show us his heart and win our hearts for himself.
Christmas is God’s love story to humanity … and the Nativity of Christ is the beginning of the divine rescue mission to save mankind.
Jesus is the answer to which every human heart is the question.
So we come to Jesus, seeking the truth revealed in Him, today, and at every Holy Mass: We see Jesus born for us again, making Himself smaller than ever before: not wrapped in swaddling clothes this time, not lain in a manger, but clothed in bread and wine and laid upon our lips.
As we receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we ask Him to reveal to us the Father’s face and the truth of the Father’s heart He knows so well, and to draw us into their divine life, their communion of life and love.
Our hearts find rest in God, as we discover in Jesus the pattern of our human existence, made and modelled as we are on the very life of God: to give ourselves away in self-surrender and let ourselves be loved; to seek to be little, preferring weakness to domination and love to power.
And on the last day, when life is changed, not ended, as we have learned God’s heart and conformed our hearts to His, we will return to the Creator, not as strangers, groping in the darkness, but as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of Jesus, rejoicing to return to the home of our Father and enter into his rest, always, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.