Pope Benedict’s Christmas homily for Midnight Mass was superb. Of course, if you were to read most secular news sources, you’d think the only thing he talked about was abortion and the Palestinians, but that’s not so. He spoke of God’s everlasting “today” that intersected with our “today” at the Incarnation:
God’s everlasting “today” has come down into the fleeting today of the world and lifted our momentary today into God’s eternal today. God is so great that he can become small. God is so powerful that he can make himself vulnerable and come to us as a defenceless child, so that we can love him. God is so good that he can give up his divine splendour and come down to a stable, so that we might find him, so that his goodness might touch us, give itself to us and continue to work through us.
Beautiful. He also spoke of how light is an important theme of Christmas and that the light is the source of life and it enters into the world with Christ. It is also a source of truth, chasing away the darkness of lies and lack of knowledge.
He then said that peace is a third key to the Christmas Midnight Mass, and then went into an exposition of how the verse from Luke has changed from “peace to men of good will” to “peace to those whom God loves” and what that means. Is good will no longer important? And who does God love? Does he favor only some people? He answers those questions by looking at who is named among those whom God loves.
But there are also two groups of people: the shepherds and the wise men from the East, the “Magi”. Tonight let us look at the shepherds. What kind of people were they? In the world of their time, shepherds were looked down upon; they were considered untrustworthy and not admitted as witnesses in court. But really, who were they? To be sure, they were not great saints, if by that word we mean people of heroic virtue. They were simple souls. The Gospel sheds light on one feature which later on, in the words of Jesus, would take on particular importance: they were people who were watchful. This was chiefly true in a superficial way: they kept watch over their flocks by night. But it was also true in a deeper way: they were ready to receive God’s word. Their life was not closed in on itself; their hearts were open.
They were watchful and ready to listen and set out when the truth and divine light was granted them. They only needed a light to shine on the path to show the way.
It’s a beautiful and concise homily. Thank you, Holy Father, and thanks for the Vatican web site where can read him unfiltered by the media.
Technorati Tags: Christmas, pope, Pope Benedict