Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
Nativity of the Lord – Mass during the Day
Is 52:7-10; Heb 1:1-6; Jn 1:1-18
Christmas is a very dear religious holiday of joy and gladness for all Christians, because on this day, the Son of God, Jesus Christ was born for us and our salvation. Part of our joy is in wishing each other a Merry Christmas, for by doing so we recall the wonderful event of the arrival of Jesus into the world. It is especially nice when these sentiments come from a pure heart and are expressed through a handshake, a hug or acknowledgment of our brother/sister, for it brings peace, forgiveness and encouragement. While adoring the new-born Child in the manger, the Lord of life who through his birth has renewed our lives, I want to join in wishing all of you here participating in this Eucharist, a very Merry Christmas, the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Merry Christmas first of all, to all of you who sow hope, despite all the sadness, difficulties and situations of death that we see around us almost every day. The daily news is unfortunately filled with such terrible violence, hatred, injustices and many horrible events happening in the world that cause so much human suffering and in which people lose their lives. But blessed are you who keep alive the hope of life, who are convinced of God’s unconquerable love for mankind that overcomes all the forces of darkness and death itself, and who share this hope with others. You are the truly blessed ones of the earth, for in the hope that sustains you, you have received a priceless gift from heaven.
A Blessed Christmas to all of you who strive to please God more than mankind or the world. It is not easy to go against the opinions of the masses and to risk being misunderstood or rejected by others. Your courage and determination however, are a testimony to the power of faith. This grows forth from the seed of the Gospel teachings of Christ that inspire us towards works of justice and peace in order to provide a better future for all. You are the ones who believe in his name: Who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice, nor by a man’s decision, but of God.
Merry Christmas to all the women who gave birth this year, or are expecting to give birth to a new child soon. Congratulations also go to their husbands, who encouraged and supported their wives in their decision. Perhaps the biggest and most responsible gift and task that the Lord has entrusted to man is the transmission of life to other generations. You who have decided to give birth to a child, have chosen life and because God is the source of life, he will not deny you the graces you need to be good parents. To all of you who may not yet have a child, but have a great desire to receive one, your marriage bond is nonetheless holy and blessed by God. Keep on praying and defending the dignity of marriage and family life. Those of you who defend human life from conception to natural death, are going against the winds of the mentality of the world in which we live, but God is with you. He is the Lord and giver of life that has been given to us in Christ, who was born into the world as a man.
A Blessed Christmas to all parents whose children are educated in Catholic schools and who carefully follow their children’s development. The sacrifices that you are making today with love and patience will with time provide new joy, confidence, love and understanding in your family home. Your children will soon forget the material gifts that you give them, but they will never forget the time you’ve devoted to them, the good examples provided, your understanding, support and unselfish love that you give them.
Merry Christmas to all of you who have taken time to visit the sick, elderly, lonely, single people, prisoners or newly arrived members of the community. This gesture of love you have done not only to your neighbour, but to Jesus himself, who once said: I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came unto me (Mt 25:35-36).
A Blessed Christmas to all of you who this year deliberately decided not to buy many gifts or send Christmas cards, but who used that money to help the poor and needy, locally, in your homeland and abroad, who do not have enough to live.
Merry Christmas to all of you who regularly participate at Mass and receive the holy sacraments, who pray to God daily and who actively support and contribute financially to the parish community. You are the ones who have truly recognized that the Church is the people of God, a living organism in which we are all sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of the same faith who always strive towards keeping this unity with God, his Church and one another.
Finally, a most blessed and holy Christmas to all of you who are not ashamed, but are happy and proud that you are Catholics. Your example is a living testimony to the beauty and strength of our faith. Some may be embarrassed to be considered followers of Christ, others may be scandalized by Jesus’ teachings, but we who believe in him and accept him as our Lord and Saviour, are proud and grateful to God who in his infinite mercy humbled himself to share in our humanity so that we could share in his divinity. Those of you who are prepared to follow in the footsteps of Christ, that of self denial and taking up one’s own cross daily out of love for God, truly exemplify the dignity and nobility of being a follower of Jesus Christ. And this will certainly never be forgotten by God.
And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. Here in brief is the mystery of Christmas. We are not alone. God is among us, who follows us, encourages and calls us to himself, so that we can share in his divine life that knows no evil but only goodness, no darkness but only light, no despair but only hope, no hatred but only love, no sin but only holiness, no eternal death but only eternal life. Let us respond today and every day, to the love of God that has been manifested to us in Jesus Christ and we will experience true joy, enjoy the peace of Christ and fully realize our calling in life.
To each and every one of you, I wholeheartedly wish a very Blessed Christmas, the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ!