daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Sunday, Christmas, December 25, 2011
Isa. 9:1-3, 5-6, Ps. 95, Titus 2:11-14, Luke 2:1-14

"Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the earth with righteousness and the peoples with his truth" (Ps. 95:11-13).

The whole world rejoices today, for God has come to the earth. He was born as a man and came to save us. Even nature rejoices today in the birth of its creator. He came to redeem and renew man, the head of creation. Therefore in this act of redemption, all creation is renewed. Today "the Lord hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God" (Ps. 97:2-3 KJV).

Christ the Lord is born today, and now all the ends of the earth have seen his salvation and rejoice in him. He covered our humanity with his divinity today, and those who believe in him and follow his will are transformed by him. He enters into us through the power of his Spirit and transforms us, making us ever more like himself. He transforms us into light, into sons of light (1 Thess. 5:5), into his image (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18). His light shines in our hearts and illuminates them (2 Cor. 4:6). Therefore today the whole universe, all creation, sings for joy. All nature exults. So "make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! ... With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the king, the Lord! Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the floods clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth" (Ps. 97:4, 6-9).

Today a great light has come down upon the earth. The Savior of the world is born today to save us from our sins. "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined" (Isa. 9:2). He came to divinize us, to make us ever more divine, ever more heavenly, ever more like himself. The splendor of his divinity transforms our humanity, illuminating it from within, making it shine with his own splendor. He is the Son of the Father, who lives from all eternity in the splendor of the Father. He emanated from this splendor before all time, from all eternity, but in time became man for our illumination and transformation, to make us like himself, giving us an ever greater share in his divinity, making us "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4). He vanquishes the darkness in our life and erases our sin. The splendor of his divinity attaches itself to us and makes us like him. Therefore "arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you" (Isa. 60:1). "The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining" (1 John 2:8).

Christ is the true light that enlightens everyone, and he came into the world. "The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world" (John 1:9), "and from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace" (John 1:16). All enlightenment comes from him, and today he "became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth," and "we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (John 1:14). We now live in his light. "A holy day has dawned upon us ... Today a great light has come upon the earth" (Gospel Acclamation, 3rd Mass). If we follow Christ with faith and do his will, we will walk in his light. "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8:12). We can grow ever more in the light of his divinity if we believe in him and follow him.

Today "the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men" (Titus 2:11). He saves us and teaches us how we should live from now on as new men in Jesus Christ. We should leave a worldly life and rather live in the light. Christ came into the world today, "training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world" (Titus 2:12). He came to forgive our sins and give us a participation in his light. We are therefore to live henceforth for him, and no longer for ourselves. We are to live for him alone, as much as each one can, according to his state in life. And we should live in eager expectation for his coming in manifest glory on the clouds of heaven at the Parousia. We should await "our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).

Today Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem for the census. "And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:6-7 KJV). We see that the Son of God, who lived from all eternity in the splendor of the Father, is now born on earth as a man in a stable for animals and laid in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn! Such was God's plan, that his Son be born like this in simplicity and poverty, in a cave for animals, and that he should grow up in obscurity and simplicity in a small, poor village. Thus we learn how we are to live as his followers, renouncing the pleasures of this world to live henceforth no longer for ourselves, but only for him who was born like this for us.

To live in his kingdom of light is a great treasure, hidden from the world, but obtainable by those who believe in him and leave all to live for him alone. This buried treasure can be obtained only by selling all that we have in order to be able to buy the field in which we discovered it (Matt. 13:44). To obtain it we must renounce all else, as did this man.

The first to be notified of the birth of God on earth were certain "shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid ... And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:8-9, 13-14 KJV). They saw the splendor of God at his birth; and if we make ourselves like them in simplicity, God will reveal his splendor to us also. The Son of God was born on earth in simplicity and poverty, but surrounded by heavenly splendor. And so shall we find him, in earthly poverty and heavenly splendor.

We rejoice today in the birth of the Savior of the world, who came to die for us on the cross to expiate our sins by his suffering, suffering their punishment for us, instead of us, so that we would not have to suffer it. Thus did he free us from our sins and guilt, giving us his light and divine life when we believe in him. This is the reason why we rejoice today.

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