You are hereFr. Abraham's CHRISTMAS HOMILY - December 25, 2018

Fr. Abraham's CHRISTMAS HOMILY - December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas! I offer you Christmas blessings in the name of all our deacons and all priests who assist us and the entire parish & school staff! Tonight we are here to celebrate a story – that really happened – story of our faith… in a God who became one like us. Why? God wanted us to know who He is & what His purpose for us is… because people had wrong concepts about God. The Greeks thought of him as a passionless God who never cared for what happened to humans; Jews thought of God as a demanding God. Jesus came to show us the true nature of God, that God is love and mercy. John 3:16-17: "God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son ... not to condemn the world but to save …” That is the nature of God. What about the nature of humans?

Story of Sr. Anselm and her 8th grade students: She had the 8th graders set up the nativity scene in parish hall for the reception after Midnight Mass. She told the students to be very careful about the precious statues. Tommy was careless and the statue of a shepherd fell to the floor and broke in half! He was petrified. And everyone knew he would be punished by Sr. Anselm who was a very strict disciplinarian … But she didn’t scold Tommy at all! She bent over and picked up the broken statue and put it very close to the empty crib and said, “We will leave the broken statue here, and after Christmas Mass when Jesus comes, we’ll glue it back together again.” Then Sr. Anselm looked at the whole class and said: “That’s what Christmas is all about. We’re all broken people and Jesus came to earth to glue us back together again!” You know, the best of theologians like St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas could not have said it better. Sr. Anselm said it best about the meaning of Christmas and the incarnation. There is a nice quote from Eugene O’Neill, that famous American playwright, “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is the glue!”

Yes friends, because of Original Sin, we are all broken people. We’re basically good because that’s how God created us as the Bible tells us in Genesis 1st chapter. But there is that mean, cruel and selfish streak in all of us. As husband and wife we promise to love and cherish each other, but we hurt each other often. And because we know each other so well, we know exactly what to say to hurt the other the most. As brothers and sisters we are to love one another and yet we can be so selfish and so greedy at times. How do you explain lies and gossips that destroy another person? No one can deny the brokenness and the crookedness in all of us.

That’s why Christ came to earth on that first Christmas night. To heal us all… as Isaiah told us in the first reading: “..a people who lived in darkness have seen a great light …”

Dear Friends, that darkness is not only in the individuals but also in communities and nations, and in the Catholic Church in general. We all know that this past year was particularly bad for the Church. It is also no secret that our community of St. Matthias has been going through some darkness – a real crisis - that has disappointed, frustrated and angered so many. You could have reacted in three different ways: i) to give up your faith in God altogether, ii) to leave this church and join another, or iii) to stay on and try to rebuild this community. Your presence in large numbers at all the Masses today and other Sundays that I have observed after my coming here, is a clear sign that you want to stay on and make this church stronger, because this is your community – you, your parents and grandparents built it up. YOU ARE THE CHURCH. It is a sign that you give more importance to your faith than to the mistake of one person or persons. But you need to do more than just being present. You need to engage. You need to ask for more transparency, more accountability and more communication from the church leadership both on the parish level (which at the moment is myself!) and the diocesan level… because YOU ARE THE CHURCH! That’s why I request you to take a bulletin and read the Healing series of reflections I’ve begun each Sunday. Last Sunday I wrote about prayer as the first step in our healing journey. This Sunday I wrote about the emotional damages/consequences and how to deal with them; next Sunday is on the spiritual consequences; the Sunday after is on the financial consequences, etc. We are in it together – in this process of healing and we need to have a concrete plan to move on ….

I wish to have a special word to the Young people who are present here. If you know some youngsters who are not here, please pass on my message!. Thank you for coming. We need you. National studies show that one of the top five reasons why many young people stay away from the Church is what they perceive as the DISCONNECT between science and religion. Many mistakenly think that the Bible contradicts science. But I want to tell you. NO. Science and religion are not contradictory, but complimentary. Many parents here will agree that they felt helpless when their young children would come back from school/college and claim that the creation stories in the Bible are false because Science teaches otherwise. True, but Bible does not contradict science. If you don’t believe, challenge me. I will be available to talk to you. Engaging is the only way to know the truth of the Bible instead of blindly believing the media or other opinions. But today we are here to celebrate as a community what the angels announced: “good news of great joy to all … peace on earth to people of good will ….” Yes we are a broken people, but the good news is that God Himself sent us a healer whose birthday we are celebrating tonight. Let us take his message seriously and we will experience healing in ourselves, in our families and certainly in our Community of St. Matthias.