[Homily: Christmas Midnight Mass, 2018. ADDU Assumption Chapel. 2018]
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…” (Jn 1:1)
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep… Then God said, let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good’ and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. (Gen 1:1-3),
God created the light. He separated the light from the darkness.
But the light was undermined by man and women created in his image. In knowledge, they sinned. In freedom, they disobeyed. As we, in or lives, despite the light, have knowingly sinned and freely disobeyed. In the Garden of Paradise, we have spurned the command of the Lord; we have eaten the forbidden fruit, and shared it with our neighbor; we have betrayed the light to create our darkness. Light becomes darkness.
It happens to us in so many ways….
We think of ourselves more important than others; we think of things more important then people; we think of money more important than God; we think of our good more important than the common good; we think of our will more important than love; we think of our power, more important than God’s power; we advance our kingdom, and militate against God’s kingdom; we crucify God, and think ourselves good.
Amidst the flickering, glittering scintillating lights of the global city of man, even at Christmas, the people dwell in darkness. Light becomes darkness. Right becomes wrong; wrong becomes right; lies become truth; truth becomes irrelevant. Nothing is impossible for the powerful… Corruption thrives, bullies abound, abuse persists. Guns meant to protect, kill; they kill innocents in schools, they kill them in concerts, they kill them in open rallies and in darkened alleys. They kill them in wars, and in caravans of migrants escaping war. Globally they have given up on the war on drugs; in the Philippines they have not. Yet the production and distribution of shabu persists, destroying the lives and families of their victims. Their victims, the mind-less zombies in our midst; the poor dead on the streets. There is hunger. There is homelessness. Guns are trafficked. People are trafficked. Children are trafficked. Children are separated from their parents. Children are arrested. Children die. Day becomes night.
The courts fail to deliver justice. Legislators fail to transcend self- or party-interests; the common good is spurned. Government leaders fail to transcend personal interests or national interests to lead the way to a future of light, be this in the United States, Great Britain, Brussels, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Japan, China or even the Philippines. As the planet warms, the glaciers melt, the forests burn, the tides rise, and the weather becomes more extreme, nations remain in self-imposed darkness, unable even to agree there is something that can be done. Meanwhile, changing climates force people from their homes and homelands, as do wars, violent extremism, and genocide. Think of Yemen. Think of Myanmar. Think of Syria. Think of Marawi.
So much for smart, savvy, rational, autonomous humankind that seeks to rule and govern itself. Mankind dwells weary in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Only appreciating this darkness do we appreciate the light: John the Evangelist proclaims light: God does not respond to the darkness in condemnation. He responds in compassion to bring light into this darkness.
“…God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17).
“In him [the Word] was life, and the life was the light of men, and the light shone in the darkness… and the darkness did not comprehend it…” (John 1:4-5).
[He is] “…the true light which gives light to every man… ” (John 1:9).
“And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
That is the Good News of this night: the glory of the Father bathed in light:
“While Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn” (Lk 2:7)
Isaiah proclaims, “The people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light; upon those who dwell in the land of gloom, a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing…
“For a child is born to us, a son given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace” (Is 9:2.6).
In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high [has broken] upon us to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet in the way of peace” (Luke 1: 78-79).
The night of man’s disobedience and sin is transformed by the holy night of God’s light overcoming the darkened world in the silence of a babe in the manger. The Babe is the Messiah, the Savior, God entered into Man’s world to prove to man his worth, his dignity, in the awesome beauty of his created home; to prove to him how precious he is in the eyes of his God, and how fully he is loved. We have no room for him in our inn, but God finds his way to us within. What is lain in the wood of the manger will eventually be nailed to the wood of the Cross. But it is through the Cross that Salvation is won from the darkness of our foibles and failures and sins.
God created the light. We made it night. But tonight, this night God made a holy night. In this holy night, a weary world rejoices…
There is a song that summarizes all that needs to be said about this night. Let us sing it together.
O holy night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
The thrill of hope a weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees.
O hear the angel voices.
O night divine!
O night when Christ was born
O night, o holy night,
When Christ was born!