Archbishop's Homilies 2010

Christmas Day Mass

MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SATURDAY 25 DECEMBER 2010 AT 11AM.

INTRODUCTION

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“The Lord is born for us and a Son is given to us.”

God comes to be with us and in our hearts, our families and our lives, as we celebrate Christmas.  He wishes to remain every day of the year and invites us to respond to him.

Today I pray that Christ will be with each of you and at the end of Mass I will give the Blessing in the name of the Holy Father for those who are truly penitent of their sins, have been to Confession and will receive Communion.

Christmas means God is near.  Let us call to mind our sins and ask the Lord for pardon, light and strength.

HOMILY

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father full of grace and truth.”  These words from Saint John’s Gospel remind us that God has always been communicating with people.  Down through the ages he has sought to bring his Word and the reality of his presence to us.  In the Old Testament that Word was used through the prophets.  In the New Testament - in our day - a new phenomenon arose; God became human and the Word spoke not merely in words but in human example. We have the example of a person who, while remaining God, became human for us.

Christmas has been celebrated throughout history, in good times and in bad, in persecution and triumph, in peace and in war, in times of abundance and shortage.  Yet in every circumstance because it is God coming to us his light comes into our lives.  The message of Jesus’ birth reaches out to all who allow God to touch them, so Christian celebration here at Mass on Christmas Day is about the love of God for us and who he is.

We know that Jesus was born in a stable in conditions of abject poverty.  This for me is a reassurance of the fact that God comes to each of us wherever we are; whether in friendship or alone, whether in light or darkness, whether in joy or sadness, God still comes because his love is constant true and fair.  That same Word of God, Jesus Christ, who was with the Father in the beginning, through whom everything came to be, took on a new dynamic shape and form by becoming a human being.

It can be said that Jesus in becoming a human being helped us to understand what God is like.  God is the fulfilment of our hopes.  God is the joy of all that we can become.  Each one of us has our story, each one of us may feel that that is a precious part of us.  Christmas shows that wherever we are, whoever we may be, God comes into our story and invites us to come and look more deeply into his love for us, into the faith given to us in Baptism, into his presence in the Eucharist, his forgiveness in Reconciliation, so that we will be forgiven and renewed and transformed.  God’s coming is no mere sinecure or polite visit to a distant town.  God spoke through his Word in the past, now he speaks in the person of his Son.  Let us ask Jesus that he will speak in our heart and our life, that we will not be so wrapped up in self that we will not hear him.

In Midnight Mass the second Reading allows us to leave aside all those things that do not lead to God and all our worldly ambition.  This means that if we live with God our life is changed.  We are filled with love and hope, we are reassured even in times of failure that God’s love is constant, identified with human need and sustaining us on our journey. 

My prayer for each of you is that the Lord who came to be with us will be great light for your life.  That your gladness will be greater, your praise of him will be stronger because God has gone to the limit, even beyond death.  He has in fact endured all human suffering and he invites us to come to new hope in our daily life.  Let us ask ourselves, are we ready to trust God, are we ready to risk going where he invites us, are we ready to acknowledge that having seen the saving power of God we will let this work in our lives? 

May Jesus, born in a stable in simplicity of heart, give you grace and hope for the future and help you to know through prayer and through regular sharing in Mass that he is always near to nourish our journey; that journey we make together stronger and more confident because Jesus is the Lord of our life.

+ Denis J. Hart,
ARCHBISHOP OF MELBOURNE