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Homilies - Bishop Brendan Leahy

Christmas 2016 - St. John's Cathedral


For four weeks we’ve been preparing for the great celebration of Christmas. It’s a highpoint of the year. We hear Christmas carols, we prepare gifts, we want to do good. It’s the season that brings out the best in people.

But Christmas is the time of celebrating the great gift God has for each of us. The Son of God became man, became one of us. And this evening I invite you and myself to think of one particular aspect of that gift. God has taken on the limits of our human condition. The almighty Godi s there as a defenceless little baby. Pope Francis said recently God who upsets our logical expectations, the established order, the order of the mathematician and statistician. But this upset shows us all the richness of God’s own thinking, that overturns our limited human ways of thinking. Pope Francis quotes Romano Guardini, the German theologian he once studied, who said: ‘What an overturning of all our familiar values—not only human values but also divine values! Truly this God upsets everything we claim to build up on our own.’ At Christmas, we’re called to say ‘yes’ with our faith, not to the Master of the universe, not even to the most noble of ideas, but just to this God who is the humble lover.

How is God a humble lover? He has made limits the place where we can meet him. Two thousand years ago it was the limits of the manger, poverty, rejection, misunderstanding. But because of Christmas, my limits, my failures, my insecurities are now the place of God in the world. He has taken all of that unto himself. He has accepted all of that.

What does that mean for us? It means that when I meet limits in myself, in others, in our world, I am touching God. To accept my limits is to accept him, to accept God in my limits.

Maybe I might think that with all my limits, I don’t really have a lot to give to others. I feel that what I can give is so much less than what others around me need or ask for. And yet, here’s the mysterious thing – God is in my limits. In and through my limits when I give of myself, God is giving himself. In that way, each of us can become a “sacrament” of his love in the world, a means whereby he can communicate himself in our world.

Father Matta el Meskin, a monk of our time, who addresses the Lord Jesus born in Bethlehem, and says: We greatly need you to reveal in us your simplicity, by drawing us, and indeed the Church and the whole world, into yourself. Our world is weary and exhausted, because everyone’s competing to see who’s the greatest. There’s a ruthless competition between governments, churches, peoples, within families, from one parish to another: Who of us is the greatest? The world is festering with painful wounds because of this great illness: Who is the greatest? But today we’ve found in you, O Son of God, our one medicine. We, and the whole world, won’t find salvation or peace unless we go back to meet you anew in the manger of Bethlehem. Amen.’