Homily – Christmas MMX

Homily – Christmas Night MMX

Angels announcing Christs birth to the shepherds (Govaert Flinck 1639)

Angels announcing Christ's birth to the shepherds (Govaert Flinck 1639)

No music He heard, and no angels He saw

As He lay in His wrappings of linen and straw;

And the ox and the ass could not kneel and adore

For the poor creatures had never been angels before.

The palace He found was an old cattle stall

With a broken down roof and a windowless wall,

And it seemed so ashamed of its spider worn wood;

But it tried to be Heaven, as well as it could.

And it sputtered and wept for the dearth of its light.

A dull stable-lantern, broken and dim

Was the small bit of moonlight that flickered on Him.

Now it longed to be beautiful, starry and bright,

And it sputtered and wept for the dearth of its light.

Tonight, inside that battered old cattle stall, the dull broken lantern dimly but most surely makes out the features of a Baby lying in a Manger, a Baby that is the Savior of the world, the Prince of Peace, the Way, the Truth, the Life: Jesus Christ, fully God, fully man, born into our world this Night.

And as the ox and the ass look on in amazement, in the fields just outside the city limits, an Angel of the Lord appeared to a group of Shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them.

And St. Luke says, the Shepherds were struck with great fear.

Great Fear that something so good, something so precious, something so real was being given to them this night, was being entrusted to them, and they were so unworthy of receiving it, they were so fearful that they would bungle things up, so fearful that they would lose this precious Gift by their own faults.

As the Glory of the Lord’s Truth, and Goodness and Holiness, and Power shone round about them, each one of them said, “Leave me Angel of the Lord, for I am a sinful Shepherd.

“Leave me Angel of the Lord, for I too many times lose patience with my sheep, and snap at them and hurt them; I too often get envious of what my brother shepherd’s possess;

Leave me Angel of the Lord, for I have a hard time forgiving; and I’ve done things in my past and am even doing things now that I know God doesn’t approve of.

Leave me Angel of the Lord, for I’ve grown cold in loving God, grown cold in the love and care I should have for those who love me; and yet you tell me Jesus wants to be born tonight in this dingy cattle stall which is my soul; you tell me the Baby Jesus wants me to love Him with all the love in my heart, but my heart is like a broken, dim stable-lantern that can barely shine any warmth of love on Him.”

But despite all these protests, the Angel of the Lord will not leave these fearful shepherds.

And suddenly, there was a great army of Angels of the Lord, saying Glory to God in the Highest, and peace to men of good will.

Not peace to men of good works, but peace to men of good will, peace shall be to you shepherds, with all your faults and sins, if you have but good will, if you but strive with all your heart and soul to adore before my manger, if you but strive as best you can to turn away from sin and live my Gospel message, if you but courageously strive to make known to all, by words and deeds, the message you have received this night.

For tonight, inside that far from perfect stable, by the dim light of that broken, sooty, glowing lantern, you shall find, O shepherd, an infant lying in a manger, the Prince of Peace, the Savior, and that’s not all you shall find there:

But a Lady of Beauty stood over His head

While she gathered the strewings about for His bed.

And her soul was as sweet as a fresh budding rose

and as white as the fusion of myriad snows.

And her hands did not soil this immaculate prize,

and her breath did not sully the bloom in His eyes.

On her breast sweet and safe does He slumber and nod:

The lily-white village maid, Mother of God.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the baby Jesus so wishes to be born in your stable and mine this Christmas Night; let us hasten to Bethlehem, and with Mary His Immaculate Mother and good St. Joseph to help us, let us adore Him, and worship Him, and bask in the Light, and Joy, and Peace His Nativity brings.

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