Saint Bernardine’s Church, Regents Park: Christmas Eve 6:30pm; Christmas Day 7:30am & 9:00am)
25 December 2013
I think the tableau behind the altar tonight/today sets before our eyes perfectly what we are celebrating. Jesus Christ is “centre stage” – Mary and Joseph kneel in adoration, inviting us to do the same. The crib’s proximity to the altar is appropriate because, really, what happens in the crib is what happens on the altar every time we celebrate Mass. Here before us is the Prince of Peace … really, Peace itself; Love itself; God Himself. Here is God become Flesh for us. Here is our God, who looking upon the sad and sorry state of His beloved world which He loved from the beginning, comes as one of us, to redeem us and save us.
You would know from your own children, or perhaps from other people’s children, when a young one has something that they’re excited to show you, they’ll come up to you to take you by the hand to take you to what they have just discovered or created. They want to lead you there to share their own excitement.
Very often, the infant Jesus in the Christmas crib has his hands in that similar gesture – his hand reaching out to ours … because He wants to take us by the hand and lead us. “Come to me” he says, “Come with me … I want to show you the way to a life that will surpass all your hopes and dreams. Come with me; stay with me; I want to share with you ALL that is mine from eternity.” This is the invitation that Jesus extends to all of us.
It’s no secret that more people come to Mass for Christmas than on any other day in the year. In wondering why that is, I don’t think it’s simply because we’re meant to; and I don’t think it’s the sheer force of obligation that has made us be here.
I think part of the reason we’re all here is that we want to hear once again this amazing story of God’s love … that He would come to share our lives in such a wondrous way; we want to hear again the invitation from Jesus to be with Him, to share his love, his blessings, and all that He wants to give us. We want to know that we’re still welcome in the family of God, still welcome at his table.
Wherever we are in our relationship with God right now, we are invited tonight/today to come to the crib of the Infant Saviour. To come as those first ones came … with all their hopes and fears; to try to grasp what it means that God has drawn close to us. As we see the Infant lying in the manger, and as we contemplate his hand reaching out to us, let’s hear his invitation to us: come to me, stay with me … let me show you the way to Life!
May the graces of this great Feast help us to respond to the coming of the Lord, and to remain close to Jesus all the days of our life.