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Homily for Christmas Mass During the Day (December 25, 2023)

By Father Kyle

Did you know that I got a “high five” from Super-man every time I offered the 12:10pm Mass at Our Lady of Peace Church in Erie on weekdays? What priest can make such a boast? At the end of every 12:10pm daily Mass there in that church, there were two young brothers who waited for me at the end of the center aisle. The younger of the two, who looked to be about two or three years old, was always wearing a red cape, and the older one, who was probably four or five years old, was trying to hide behind him or underneath one of the back pews, in the hope that he would scare me. Sometimes they both hid under the pew and then jumped out when I reached the back of the church. These two little boys couldn’t wait to give me “high-fives,” and the older one always saw if I was fast enough to go up high, on the side, and down low. I never was. Then I did the same thing for him, and he was always too fast for me. They never failed to make me smile. Even when I was having a rough day, their eagerness and excitement to approach me at the end of the Mass lifted me up in spirit. Christ was made present and approachable to them in His priest, and even though they probably did not understand this profound reality in their minds, I have to believe that they sensed it in their innocent hearts.

            I think that Christian adults, like many of us here, often take this for granted. During this Christmas time and season, and throughout the year, we hear that God is with us all the time, but can we appreciate the sheer wonder of His presence and our privilege now in the life of grace to approach Him? The God we see in the little manger and worship in the Holy Mass Sunday after Sunday, day after day, is the same God who revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in ancient times. The God we are so incredibly blessed to receive in the Holy Eucharist is the same God who appeared to Moses and the Israelites on Mount Sinai, and if you remember the story of those events in the Book of Exodus, you will recall that this God, the Lord, shook the whole mountain when He appeared to them. There was thunder, lightning, fire, and smoke. The people of Israel were ordered not to even touch the base of the mountain when God made His presence known to them upon it, or else they would die. Even Moses, who had such a special relationship with the Lord, could not gaze upon His face when He passed him by on the summit. The Lord had to hide Moses in the cleft of a rock, so that the brightness of His glory would not kill him. This same God was the One True God who created the entire universe out of nothing, who spoke all things into being with His Word. He is forever adored and worshipped in heaven by countless armies of angels, pure spirits who are far superior to us in their knowledge and power.

            This same Word, through whom all things came into being, whom no human being can see and live, who is God and has been with God from all eternity, became flesh and made His dwelling among us. He was invisible in His own divinity, but He became visible to us sinful human beings. The apostles who followed Him in ancient Israel saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. They saw and heard what prophets and kings longed to see and hear, and because of God’s gracious gift of faith and their own work of handing on this truth that has been revealed, we have seen and heard Him too. We can sometimes forget just how amazing the Incarnation is. People of other world religions find it absurd that God, the Maker of all things, would stoop to such a low level in becoming one of us and walking among us as a man, but this is what really happened, and it all started on that first Christmas, when he was born as a vulnerable child placed into our care. When we, in our sinfulness, could not approach God, He approached us. He made Himself approachable to us in Jesus Christ, and we are so blessed and honored to approach Him in our daily lives, especially here in the Mass, where we join every Sunday with the angels and saints who adore Him in heaven. In the Mass, we worship the Lord who has brought us so close to Himself. We actually receive this Lord upon our hands or upon our tongues. The One who made our mouths and our whole being gives Himself to us as food and drink! The God whom no person can see and live has deigned to enter into our little bodies and souls and make His dwelling among us and within us in this wondrous Sacrament.

He has made Himself present and approachable to us in this way that surpasses our wildest dreams, and during this Christmas, we are invited anew to approach Him with the eagerness, excitement, and joy of a child, not just today, but every day. He is waiting for us to approach Him in the poor, the suffering, and the outcast who yearn to be noticed and loved. He is waiting for us to approach Him in our family members and friends who can often drive us crazy. He is waiting for us to approach Him by picking up the Bible and reading His word in the Scriptures, by taking quiet time each day to pray and be with Him, by going to Confession often to receive His mercy and healing, and by being with Him in His priests who hold His place among us. Most of all, He is waiting for us to approach Him here in these sacred mysteries. We should allow ourselves to be drawn here to the Mass week after week, day after day, by the wonder of His presence, especially in the Blessed Sacrament. God cannot help but smile when He sees His children waiting for Him and moving to meet Him in all the people and places where He is to be found. Let us seize every opportunity to draw close to Him who has drawn so close to us.

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