SOLEMNITY OF THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD (CHRISTMAS) 2016
By Archbishop Gomez
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
December 25, 2016
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
What a great joy to celebrate with all of you this evening the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is, as I said, a day of great joy for the universal church and for the whole world.
On this night — this holy night we join our brothers and sisters everywhere — we join the Church in every country — in welcoming Jesus into our world. We welcome Jesus tonight — into our homes and into our hearts. It is a beautiful night of joy.
I still remembering growing up the first time that I was allowed to go to midnight mass. I was probably 8-9 years old and finally my parents took me to me to midnight mass. It was a beautiful, joyful day and still — after so many years — for all of us today it’s so special to be together celebrating the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The prophet in the first reading of today’s mass — the prophet Isaiah tells us: “For a child is born to us, a Son is given us.”
We are rejoicing because this is the night when God’s light comes to shine through every darkness. And St. Paul tells us in the second reading: “The grace of God has appeared saving all!”
Saving all. This is how God comes into our lives, as the light of salvation. As the light to guide us through the darkness of the world.
And in the passage of the Gospel today, the angel of the Lord proclaims: “For today in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you.”
It really caught my attention as I was thinking about what we celebrate on Christmas. What the angel proclaimed: “For today in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you.”
These are such beautiful words. The most beautiful words that we could hear. Because they are a promise — a promise from God’s heart to your heart, from God’s heart to my heart.
“A Savior has been born for you.” For me.
And this is what Christmas is all about. The Gospel we just heard reminds us that it is true. This is not just an old story, or a fairy tale. These words are alive! These words are fire, and these words are meant to burn in our hearts, to burn with the love of God.
“For today in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you.”
In this one little sentence, we have the whole story of the world. We have the whole meaning of our lives. This is why God made the world – this is why he made you and me.
We have a Savior! This Child in the manger. God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son. “A Son is given us.”
Do you ever think about how special we are — you are — to God? Tonight is the night to think about that! To rejoice! Because God has a beautiful love for each one of us.
Jesus comes as a child of Mary so that we can become children of God. This is who we are! Children of God — a God who loves us with a Father’s love. This is the beautiful mystery of our lives.
It’s not just another marketing tool that people have to sell things. It’s not just a beautiful story that has nothing to do with us. Jesus comes to be our brother — to walk with us, to accompany us. He comes to lift us up. He comes to share in our humanity so that we can share in his divinity.
Jesus is born just like we were. He has true human roots. He has a nationality, a family — “people” he comes from. Just like you and just like me, and just like every other person.
Jesus knows who we are, he knows what we are going through.
And in the Gospel tonight, the angels say to the shepherds: “Do not be afraid!”
My dear brothers and sisters, as we contemplate the love of God for each one of us — the Nativity of Jesus, the Son of God who is coming to earth to be just like us except in sin — today we really need to listen to these beautiful words in our own personal lives.
Do not be afraid. Let Jesus set you free from whatever burdens you tonight. We all have things we’re afraid of, things that make us nervous. Someone we’re worried about.
Do not be afraid.
Jesus knows what it means to be human. He knows what is in your heart, in my heart. Whatever you are worried about — tonight Jesus takes it away. Whatever burdens you — bring it tonight to the manger. Trust in God. And with God we can do everything!
Tonight a Child is given to us, a Savior is given for us. He is the Savior for you and for me. He is the Savior for everyone we love.
And God, my dear brothers and sisters, has a beautiful plan of love — for your life and for mine. It is a beautiful plan. And really, God’s love is so big, it is so beautiful. That’s why we rejoice today.
But our hearts need to be opened up wider, our hearts need to grow so we can hold this beautiful promise of God.
So in this beautiful night — Noche Buena — the beautiful night of Christmas, let us especially ask for the grace to open our hearts to welcome him. Just as Mary and St. Joseph opened their arms to hold the Child Jesus on that first Christmas night.
It is a day of great joy because we feel, we know, we believe that God loves each one of us personally. He’s interested in every single little thing that we worry about. In all our moments of joy, God is there for us. And that’s why today is so special.
So let’s ask for that grace especially — just like the shepherds, just like Our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph — opening our hearts to God’s love for each one of us, especially expressed tonight in the birth of Baby Jesus.
So I wish you and your families a beautiful Christmas and a beautiful New Year.
And remember my brothers and sisters: For today a Savior is born — for you. A beautiful promise for your life and mine.
May our Blessed Mother Mary help us to take these words into our hearts, and change our lives!