The Nativity of the Lord (During the Day)

First reading                       Isaiah 52:7-10

Responsorial Psalm          Psalm 97(98):1-6

Second reading                   Hebrews 1:1-6

Gospel                                   John 1:1-18

How did God create the universe? Does anyone remember what the bible tells us? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was a formless void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light… (Gen 1:1-3). Ah, “God said.” That’s how God created. God spoke a Word and reality was shaped accordingly. What God says, simply is. Now, the Scriptures reveal that this is so with regard to created things– God speaks us into existence. But this is also true with regard to what is uncreated, namely, God himself. What do I mean? The Christmas Day Gospel reading we’ve just heard takes us all the way back to that same beginning, in fact it takes us back prior to God’s creating work. “In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him. All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower.” This Word was with God prior to creation.

Now, we would do well to recall, what was the very first word that God spoke in the beginning? “Let there be light”. “Light” was the first word to come forth from the mouth of God. And this is fascinating when you consider that it was not until the fourth “day” that God created the sun and the stars, the very sources of material light. How could there be light without the sun and stars? Where, then, did this light proceed from? This suggests, dear brothers and sisters, that the light which was the very first word, is not your ordinary light. Our second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews today reveals the nature of this light: “In our own time” the author says, “he [God] has spoken to us through his Son, the Son that he has appointed to inherit everything and through whom he made everything there is. He is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, sustaining the universe by his powerful command…” (Heb 1:1-3). The very first Word to come forth from the mouth of God is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of his nature, the command of whom sustains the universe! It’s this Word, the Son, the second person of the Trinity, who holds all things in being and is, as our Gospel tells us, “the light of men” who “shines in the dark” and whom “darkness could not overpower.” My dear brothers and sisters, why am I telling you all this? Because it is that one, the radiant light of God the Father who is the exact copy of the Father’s nature, that the Gospel today tells us, “was made flesh and lived among us.” The original Greek text literally says he “became flesh and pitched his tent among us”, which is a euphemism for the taking on of a body (see 2 Cor 5:1). 

Brothers and sisters, I’m outlining these primordial things so that when we contemplate the poor, fragile, vulnerable and sweet child of Bethlehem, lying in the humblest of circumstances in a feeding trough for farm animals, we might have the right perspective and remember whom it is that we are contemplating. This is not just any child. This is the “God from God, light from light, true God from true God” who comes from the Father before all ages and who holds all things in existence at every given moment. What a wonder, then, to consider that Mary and Joseph held that one in their arms who was at once holding them in existence and who is right now in each passing moment holding us in his life-sustaining gaze! Brothers and sisters, this is truly extraordinary. Today we not only rejoice at the birth of a child, but we rejoice in the mystery that God himself, light from light, stooped down from heavenly glory to enter the darkness and complexity of our world and of our human experience. This mystery is irreversible. God has forever become incarnate, even unto death and resurrection. Today, then, is a kind of wedding feast dear friends! Divinity forever united to our humanity, having entered through a most vulnerable, self-emptying and loving act of humility. This shows us the way forward. That if we are to reap the fruits of such a marriage and enter the union ourselves, we too need to become as our God is, vulnerable to his mercy, self-giving to his majesty, truly loving of God and neighbour, and humble enough to repent of our sins and ask for forgiveness. 

I wish you all a very merry Christmas dear friends and the joy that only Jesus Christ can give. May you draw near to him who is so near to you. And as our Lord continues to become incarnate in the Eucharist– small, poor, fragile, vulnerable and sweet, may you hold him within you today, who is so lovingly holding you in existence in each passing moment. 


2 responses to “The Nativity of the Lord (During the Day)”

  1. Thanks Father for this lovely and challenging sermon. At this time I am frequently impressed with how magnificent God is. This passage of John must be my favourite in the bible. I think because I realise that it it contains such a depth of theology that I know I don’t understand much of it. This sermon has helped me carry the ball forward just a bit more in my understanding. Do you have any references to connect the light in creation to the light in John. I can see that it is a natural connection but was wondering who else may have noted on the connection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome. It is indeed a beautiful and profound passage. Unfortunately I don’t have any references regarding the light of creation as it was the fruit of my own contemplation of the spiritual meaning of the text. However I’ve just done a quick search of the Church Fathers and found that Tertullian in the 3rd century makes this same connection and interpretation in his Against Praxeas 7:12. I should also note that St Augustine on the other hand argues against this interpretation. I think there are good arguments both for and against such an interpretation, but at the end of the day it is clear that St John in his prologue intends to evoke the language and imagery of Genesis in his description of the preexistence of the Word, hence I decided to establish a connection in my sermon.

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