Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Vigil Mass (for children) - Year B

Isaiah 62:1-5; Acts 13:16-17.22-25; Matthew 1:1-25

Today I’d like to direct my thoughts to the young people here.

When I was a  teenager I remember watching a movie about a spaceship which landed on earth. An alien came out carrying a box on his chest. He walked down the steps from the spaceship carrying this box and soldiers were ordered to shoot him – and they did.

Later on they discovered that in the box was a cure for cancer! Can you imagine, a cure for cancer? But it was too late; they had killed the alien and now they couldn’t open the box.

What do you imagine God would give to humanity if he came to us from heaven with a gift? Would it be a cure for some horrible disease, or a way to stop tsunamis or earthquakes?

Well, of course, God has come down to earth and he has given us a present - not possessions or money or health – but a Baby – a human baby who is also God!

God gave us a baby:
  • firstly, because he doesn't want to frighten us and no one is frightened of a baby. How often does he say in the Christmas story ‘Do not be afraid’? To Zachariah, to Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds. God says ‘Do not be afraid’.
  • secondly, because every baby is a promise of new possibilities, a new future -  this baby especially, because he is the future. Baby Jesus wants to take us to our future where all our dreams are realised.
  • because every baby is a sign of love; this is the secret of babies; babies are made by love. It is the love of a mother and father which causes a baby to come into the world and, in the case of Baby Jesus, it was the love of the blessed Virgin Mary which cooperated with the love of God himself.
  • because a baby knows how to just be - without ambition, without plans -  just to be happy. In this way babies show us what it will be like for us in heaven - just happy to be there together, in our Father’s house.
  • because every baby is innocent and totally accepting of us – non-judgmental. A baby does not compare us to other people but takes us just as we are because they are innocent themselves and happy to be themselves – and especially this baby because he is Innocence.
  • because every baby is powerless – weak, helpless, vulnerable, dependent. That’s why we are happy to accept this baby, because it needs us to give it a home.
  • because every baby, but especially this baby, is an invitation to friendship; this baby wants to be our friend; to be loved by us.
Let’s think a bit more about this invitation to enter into friendship with Jesus.

Because Jesus is so attractive we want to be friends with him; in fact, we want to become like him so that our friendship will become more and more solid.

That’s why Baby Jesus is so endlessly fascinating. He captures our heart because he is everything we would like to be, everything we are meant to be.

Once we are friends with Jesus our parents can relax; they have no more worries about us because with Jesus as our friend we are safe.

Friendship with Jesus gives meaning to our lives. It’s what we were created for. ‘To know him, love him, serve him … and to be happy with him forever.’

Dear parents: this relationship is not easy – it’s not a game. You can’t play at it at Christmas and Easter Time – it won’t work that way.

Friendship with Jesus is demanding, we have to work at it – it is a total commitment – you can’t turn it off and on. For a Catholic it means coming to the Eucharist every Sunday and celebrating with Jesus’ other friends. It means being ready to say sorry in the sacrament of Reconciliation when necessary. It means daily family prayer and good works.

You, dear parents, will have to answer for how you gave your child an opportunity to come to know Jesus. You have a serious responsibility which you took on when you asked for Baptism for your child.

Jesus is not someone else’s baby – he is ours; we can’t hand him back – he claims us. We can’t pack him up in the cupboard after Christmas like the plaster baby in the crib.

Friendship with Jesus calls us to change our ways, our habits, our life; it calls us to be different from the world. It makes us grow on the inside and gives healing to our own woundedness. Jesus makes us whole again. He gives life and peace – already here on earth but especially in heaven. That’s where we can all truly say, ‘Merry Christmas!’

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