Tonight we join with Christians of all denominations in celebrating the extraordinary event which happened 2000 years ago – the entry of God himself into human history in the person of the Infant Jesus.
For a Christian there is tonight no tinsel, no glitter; there are no fairy lights – only the silence and peace of a stable in which a mother holds her child wrapped in swaddling clothes.
The child is God. Can you believe it? This child is God - a mystery of love. The mystery of a God who lowers himself to take on human nature so that he may live among us, and die for us. A Saviour has been born for us. Only those who open their hearts and minds to this child, and accept him as their God can discover the true meaning of his presence among us.
Tonight, in our liturgy, we gaze at this child, our hymns sing of him, our readings speak of him and our Gospel rejoices at his birth.
And how simple the message of each of the chosen passages is.
- The first reading tells us: ‘Rejoice, especially if you are in darkness for the light has come.’
- The second reading tells us: ‘Salvation is now possible for all.’
- The third reading tells us: ‘A Saviour is born for us.’
The darkness, of course, is sin. This child has come to save us from the darkness of our sin. He is the Light which chases away the darkness. In the vigil Mass a few hours ago we heard the angel explain to Joseph what this child had come to do. He told him: He is the one to save his people from their sins.
In a world where human solutions to humanity’s problems are proving every day more inadequate we need to open our lives once again to God’s plan for the world proposed in this infant lying in the manger. It is a plan centred on all that makes us noble and capable of peace – peace in our hearts and peace in the world. This child is the answer to our every question, he is the meaning of our lives.
In our crib lies a statue of the infant Jesus. Joseph and Mary are kneeling beside him, rapt in adoration. They are adoring God in their newborn child. And the infant has his arms outstretched. You may think he is reaching for you and you are right. But first of all, before anything, his little arms are stretched out in praise and adoration of God his Father in heaven. Already he is instructing us, teaching us, and his message is: Do as I do; worship God!
The next thirty-three years of Jesus’ life could be described simply as a lesson in how to do that; how to worship God. But that is a story for later on.
Yes, the arms of the child in the crib are stretched out to you. He is there for you. He came for you. He loves you, and his love, if you let him, will give you life.