Sermon for High Mass for Christmas Day Tuesday 25 December 2012
Sermon preached by Fr. John Pritchard
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
There was an Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman, and a Welshman sitting in a pub, each with a pint of beer… reflecting on the past year. The Englishman commented on the economy. He remembered that some of his friends were being made redundant, not getting jobs that more people in England were relying on the generosity of food banks and charity now than in recent memory.
The Irishman spoke of a renewed unrest in his community, violence and intimidation which had lay dormant for the past years, was now renewed and rearing its ugly head: Sovereignty and identity was his problem.
The Scotsman reflected on a confusing desire for independence and the great arguments he faced whether or not his people needed their neighbours, could they be strong and sufficient in their own authority, culture and economy.
And the Welshman, being the only Welshman in the Pub, complained about the price of beer!
Sometimes the Christian Story seems to have become to many the beginning of a joke and sometimes people don’t manage to hear the serious bits amidst all of the good words and ritual, the glamour of praise and thanksgiving. A Virgin birth, Angels singing the heavenly chorus, Joseph and of course the blessed Donkey, nothing seems untouchable anymore, much seems to be consigned to romantic indulgent story-telling, rather than a radical new understanding of God. It might be for many in society, the celebration of a new birth is manageable, but the possibility of contemplating a new life coming out of something other than ourselves, quite different. Something which some would rather mock, than pursue, or have to face or work at.
In recalling the Christ Child, amidst the worrying things that we are all witnessing and experiencing over these past years in this nation and throughout much of the world, we must for today at least try our best to put aside the anxieties of the moment, the doubts and remember the central serious truth, that Christ was born to bring peace, tolerance and order to a troubled world. Christ is born to bring a new perspective for us and upon us, a new perspective of hope of which we are called to witness to the world.
Many of us are not the best examples of Christ in the world, but to all of us, are given new opportunities to be less scrooge like and more Christ like every day. On this most wonderful day, in this most holy season, do not worry too much about yesterday… but today. Proclaim the Christ child and to take him to your heart, to not only celebrate a new life, but contemplate a new life for yourselves in him. Put away your sadness for one day, be happy and joyous in his birth, and let the happiness of this day overwhelm us all, for today a new hope of salvation has been realised by our world, today because of that infant child we are given a new hope, today because of this child we can begin to be different… for God is with us and God is for us, no matter how painful things might get for us as individuals or as a society.
Be thankful with me for our parents, grandparents, our schools, priests and fellow pilgrims in the faith who introduced us to the Christ child. If you are going to weep, weep with tears of happiness for the one who will redeem you, don’t share only in the Joy of the Christ child as a new birth, share in the joy of being a Christian and sharing a life in him. Hold nothing back, because God held nothing back. Welcome him, embrace him and leave here with a spring in your step, embrace him as love itself and be joyful with one another, go to you homes, visit others and feast, today renew your faith in God, remember that you are a follower of Christ and be thankful for the hope and purpose this faith brings. And hold in your heart now, all those who are not and cannot be here. Remember them before God and all his Angels and give thanks for them.
I started with the British people and close remembering the Syrian people with an awesome tribute to this day by St. Isaac of Syria:
Now is the day of joy – Let us not revenge;
Now is the day of Good Will – Let us not be mean.
In this Day of Peace – Let us not be conquered by anger.
Today the Bountiful impoverished Himself for our sake;
So, rich one, invite the poor to your table.
Today we receive a Gift for which we did not ask;
So let us give alms to those who implore and beg us.
This present Day casts open the heavenly doors to our prayers; Let us open our door to those who ask our forgiveness.
Today the Divine Being took upon Himself the seal of our humanity, In order for humanity to be decorated by the seal of divinity. Christ is Born! Glorify Him!