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Monday, 24 December 2012

Reflection/Homily: Christmas Vigil Mass (24th December 2012)

Reflection/Homily: Christmas Vigil Mass (24th December 2012)
Theme: God Reveals Himself
This evening’s liturgy marks the beginning of the Christmas season. It is a season of joy and celebration. But more importantly, it is a period when God the Father reveals Himself in the Son through the power of the Holy Spirit. This season is about God’s revelation of Himself and to understand this concept of revelation well, it is pertinent that we go to the root of the word. 

The word “Revelation” is an Anglicized form of the Greek apokaluptein which can be divided into apo and kaluptein. The preposition apo means ‘far from’, ‘after’, ‘away from’ while the verb kaluptein means ‘to hide’, ‘to cover’,’to veil’. The verb apokaluptein could therefore mean ‘far from hiding’ or ‘away from covering’, etc, as much as you can add up the words. In the context of Christian revelation, the ad rem rendition is ‘far from hiding or covering’. That is to say that for God, revelation means ‘far from hiding or covering Himself, which implies revealing Himself. Revelation is a form of theophany, that is, God manifesting Himself.

In the history of the Israelites, God manifested Himself among several ways as the God who saves. He saved them from slavery in Egypt, saved them through the desert, etc, until they entered the Promised Land. Within this period, God warned them to be faithful to His ordinances else they will be taken into captivity (cf. Deut 28:58,64). When they could no longer observe God’s commandments, they were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. There they suffered and wept. In the first reading (Isaiah 9:2-4,6-7) God had to reveal His plan to save them through the Prophet Isaiah who announced the Good News that God was coming to save them.
In the gospel reading (Luke 2:1-16), we see the climax of revelation, God revealing Himself, this time not through the prophets but in His Son Jesus Christ who was born of a virgin in a manger. God also revealed the birth place of Christ to the shepherds through the angels. God’s revelation of Himself through His son was to bring about our salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus. That is why St. Paul in the second reading (Titus 2:11-14) reminds us that we did nothing to merit the salvation brought to us by Christ, rather, God sent His Son out of love and compassion for us. 

Today, we reflect on God’s revelation of Himself to humanity through the new born child. We also see in the gospel the shepherds’ response to this revelation in Christ Jesus. Their response was that of adoration as they hurried to visit the child Jesus with his parents in the stable. The gospel records that they left glorifying God after adoring and praising the new born king. As the Christmas season begins today, God is revealing Himself in a special way to us as the new born king. How do we respond to this revelation? Are we happy to receive Christ in our midst just as the shepherds did? Are we ready to adore and glorify God within this season and always?

Just as the shepherds were filled with joy after encountering God’s revelation of Himself in Christ Jesus, we are invited to make this joy visible in our lives by sharing this joy with others especially the poor and dejected. Even the angels did not enjoy this joy alone; they had to share it with the shepherds and all men of goodwill. We are also called to eschew every act that will rob us or others of this great joy this season. Violence, war, terrorism, rape, robbery, kidnapping, murder, suicide and other social vices should not be mentioned among us because the new born king is the Prince of Peace and the Holy One of Israel. All our actions and words should reflect peace and holiness in other to maintain the true spirit of Christmas. Therefore, may we rejoice for the marvelous work God has done for us and be glad to receive this new born king among us? So have you created a place for him in your heart or do you want him to remain there in the manger? God loves you and Happy Christmas.

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