Midnight Mass 2013

In the name of the +Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

It’s often said that there’s something magical about Christmas, that it has a fairy tale quality to it. Christmas lights, candles and other decorations certainly enliven this darkest time of the year: their gentle, subtle, twinkling light fills this sacred space and instils in us a gasping wonder. This heady, festive atmosphere can lift the spirits and draw us deeper into this mystery. On this night, there is something tangible in the air – can you sense it? – a sense of expectation, of hope, of promise. However, the greatest thing about Christmas is that it is celebrating a real event, not an imaginary one. And that event should lift the spirits more than anything else.

Why? Because behind the birth of Jesus which we celebrate at Christmas lies the greatest truth we shall ever encounter – that the God who made us, the God who flung stars in to space and created the whole universe out of nothing – that this same God loves you and me more than we can possibly imagine. That’s what he sent Jesus to tell us by his birth, tell us by his life and teaching, tell us by his death and tell us by his resurrection. It’s a simple truth but it’s a profound one: you are loved. You are part not of a cosmic accident, nor of a fairy tale nor of a magic show but of the greatest love story ever.

So, if amidst the festivities of Christmas this year you are weighed down by doubts, worries, pain or anxiety let the profound message of Christmas reach deep into your heart. You are loved – infinitely, gloriously, wonderfully and eternally loved. And nothing, but nothing, will be able to come between you and that love if you choose to receive it.

Being embraced by Divine Love is the most glorious thing which can lift the spirits more than anything. It can do more than that, though: it can give us the will and the determination to share that love with others. There are many in our community who are in desperate need of human care and compassion this Christmas.

As you share Christmas with family and friends, spare also my friends a thought for those for whom this is a time of loss and sadness; of isolation or illness, and reach out to share the blessings that God has poured out on this world, and on your family especially with those who have not yet felt that.

Where there is sadness, loss or unfairness in this world, Christ comes.

Where there is pain, isolation or injustice, Christ comes.

…he comes through you: he calls you to share the love and to spread the blessings; and It is through us that the love that God shows to you is made most manifest, in what you seek to do for those on the edges of society.

May we all be touched by God’s great love in Jesus this Christmas and, as a result, be enabled to show that same love to those who most need it. The Christ in our midst this holy night shared with us of himself: in stepping into this world, and being formed in human flesh he demonstrated his love, and in leaving us of himself in the Eucharist, his love is played out, at each and every celebration of this sacred mystery – come and share in that outpouring of love, come and share in this special meal…

I wish you every blessing this Christmas: may this coming year be one filled with the knowledge of God’s love for you, and for all people.

Amen

With huge thanks to +John Inge, Bishop of Worcester 2013 from whom substantial parts of this homily was stolen.