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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas! Our Salvation is Born!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2014
Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ
Merry Christmas! Today is the day our Salvation is born! 
In today’s Gospel passage (John 1:1-18), we hear the beautiful words  from the prologue to the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh. And made His dwelling among us…  The world did not know him…But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God…” 
My brothers and sisters, these words from our Lord emphasize God’s plan for each one of us! Since the very beginning God created each of us to be His children.  He created each of us in His image so that we can be His sacred, special persons. But we turned away through sin. 
Yet, our God does not give up on us!  He has continued to call us back to Himself. He has given us the commandments. He has given us the prophets. And finally, He has given us His Son, a small child, born in a manger. This small child would grow into a man. He would live with us! He would teach us! And He would prove to us the seriousness of our need to turn back to God by dying the most excruciating death—death on a cross!
Some of you know that I was raised Mormon.  I left the Mormon Church at the age of 12. Although I can remember having spent many wonderful Christmases with my Mormon family, it was not until I became Catholic several years later that I came to understand the full significance of Christmas—that Christmas is the celebration when the divine dwells with creation. You see, Mormons believe in Jesus, but they do not believe that He is divine.  They believe that Jesus is God’s Son, but they do not believe Jesus is God.
My brothers and sisters, if Jesus was not fully human and fully divine, then the whole meaning of Christmas loses its identify. The Catholic Church teaches that our Lord was born into our world so that each one of us can become a new creation. As we heard in tonight’s Gospel passage, God was made flesh, and to those who will accept Him, He will give “power to become children of God!”
Through His nativity Our Lord identifies with us in everything but sin. In order to save us from our sins, our Lord had to be conceived and born. He had to go through the whole process. Jesus got angry. Jesus got tempted. He felt what it was like to be sad. He felt what it was like to cry. He lived among us and died and rose again so that our disordered nature could be healed.  
 Today’s celebration therefore teaches us that God has a plan for each of our lives! No matter what we have done, no matter where we have been, God calls us to be one with Him. But if we want to live God’s plan for our lives we must humble ourselves. Our Lord humbled Himself by being born in a stable and dying on a cross. All He asks is for each of us to humble ourselves by repenting of our sins and by following His teachings and adhering to His commandments!
In just a matter of days our world will enter into the year 2015.   A lot has changed during the past 2000 years  since our Lord walked the earth. The most drastic changes have taken place during the last 100 years. On the outside we seem to be much better off than we were 2000 years ago. We have more stuff, and we can do a lot more things. Yet, on the inside we, the whole of humanity, seem to be more lost than ever. We have gained a lot intellectually and materially, but we are rapidly losing our spirit and joy. 
Throughout Advent the readings for Mass has focused on the second coming of our Lord. So our Church wants to remind us that our Lord is coming again, and He is coming soon. At our Lord’s first coming, which we celebrate today, our Lord came mostly unnoticed by the world around Him. He did not come into our world by riding on the clouds. He did not come with a bang. No. Our Lord came small and humble. And He died small and humble. But when our Lord comes again, it will not be the same. No! He will come riding on the clouds in great power and glory! The earth will shake. The heavens will tremble! And then He will send out His angels who will gather His elect, those who strive to live holy lives. Those who refuse to acknowledge their sinful ways, and refuse to ask for repentance, will be thrown into everlasting fire. 
Today we celebrate the day when our salvation was born! Yet this celebration is not a celebration only in words. It is celebration of action!  It is a celebration of change! Our Lord was born into our world to lead us into a life of holiness. He has come into our world so that we can live in His world. He wants us to live in His light. He wants us to live in His love. He wants us to live in His truth. As we celebrate Christmas, let us focus our hearts on what truly matters: Eternal Salvation. And let us rejoice because our savior has been born! Alleluia! 

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