Homily at Christmass, celebration at Tao Fong Shan, December 22nd 2017
Bible readings: Isaiah 9,2-7, Hebrews 1:1-5, Matthew 1:18-25
Dear sisters and brothers in Jesus Christ!
The Lord met Joseph in a dream and spoke to him of the child which was growing in the womb of Mary, and said to him, “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
And Saint Mathew says that Mary giving birth to Jesus is a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophesy, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means God with us).”
In Jesus we meet God; God is with us in him, in such a way that we will be saved from our sins. We will be set free of that pattern of life, in which we are entangled – a life estranged from God, a life of abuse of other humans and of the created world.
We are people wandering in darkness, but in Jesus, God with us, we see a great light. When we live estranged from God, our life is darkness, we cannot orientate ourselves and find the right direction of life. But Jesus is born to be God with us, so that God is no longer a stranger to us. We’ll now walk in light, walking with him who is the way, the truth and the life.
When we live in the pattern of sin, we live in forgetfulness. We have forgotten God and all of God’s gifts; we focus on ourselves, our needs and cravings. We forget that only God is God, and live as we ourselves are Gods, or we make gods in the image of our fears, hopes or desires. Jesus is born as our Immanuel, God with us, to make the presence of God known and experienced where we have forgotten God and are enslaved in our imaginations.
When we live estranged from God, we follow the way of death instead of the way of life. Estranged from God we do not know or remember the law of life, the inner order that keeps creation together as one. This inner law is love, that we serve one another and seek what is good for our fellow humans and creatures. Instead we live for the benefit of ourselves, for having success and happiness at any cost. But that is the way of death; everything falls apart when we only care for ourselves and not for others. Jesus is born to be the prince of peace who will reign, establishing and upholding the kingdom of heaven with justice and righteousness where the law of death had reigned before.
Jesus is born to us as the Son of God, who “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word”. He was God’s Son even before he was born to us – Son of God and Son of Man. He is the one who from before creation radiates or manifests God’s presence, expressing what lies in the heart of God the Father. God’s Son is the Word of God. Before all beginning God made room for creation, and God called into the darkness and named creation. The Word at first called light into existence. “Let there be light” – because the light is that created thing that is most like God. Through light we find our orientation in life. Through light we recognize other created beings. Light is the source of discernment, so that we know what is good, and what is evil. The Word of God however is uncreated light. The Word of God is the expression of God’s love and grace: God’s longing and will to give life and to sustain life, to bring order to the world. The Word establishes the law of life through creation. The Word of God is born to us from Mary so that the law of life may once more be known where it was forgotten. In Jesus we meet God, and we meet what we were created to be: sons and daughters of God together with him, who became the Son of Man, even though he still is the Son of God.
He is God with us that we may become humans with God –reflecting God’s presence in him to our neighbors.
Sometimes when I meditate on God’s word in scripture and the life of Jesus, I hear him talking to me in my thoughts, and I share this communication with Jesus as Inspirations. I would like to share such an inspiration, unfolding the meaning of seeing a great light:
You have seen the true Light. I’ve touched your hearts and made them alive. I’ve shown mine and the Father’s love unto you. I call you my brothers and sisters, because this is what you are.
The first time you saw the Light, it was as if you had fallen in love or it felt like a rapture. And you long for that experience. How good it is to be here. But the Light shines into the darkness to fulfill its purpose.
My Light shone most clearly on the cross, as I prayed with the suffering humankind: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ”The light shines brightest, where the serving Love is greatest. On such a day a criminal will be with me in Paradise, and on such a day sinners will find forgiveness and a new life.
This is the Light you have seen, and which in you shall be brought to the world. This is more than falling in love with me. It is more than the ecstatic bliss in God’s presence. The brightest light in you is more than this. If you only aspire being in love and experience bliss, your light will darken. When I touched your heart, I meant to awaken God’s image in you. You see God’s image in my life. You’ll have to follow me, if the image of God shall be clearly seen in you. It is the serving love, which is my Light in you.
I send you into the world, and often you’ll feel left on your own and feel alone even among many people. You may experience an absence of God. But I live by faith in your hearts as you serve others in deeds and loving presence among those who need you at most.
Here ends the inspiration. Jesus Christ is God with us that we may become humans with God – following the way of life, living by the law of life, set free from the pattern of sin, reflecting God’s presence in him to our neighbors. May God with us grant us the courage to follow him in serving love.