by Fr. Tommy Lane
Today is a beautiful day as we think about God’s love for us. Who would ever imagine, in his/her wildest dreams, that God who made the entire universe and holds it all together would love us so much that he would become one of us in his Son, Jesus? God’s love for us is, we could say, crazy and makes no sense. We cannot properly understand or comprehend God’s love doing this for us because it is out of this world. Today we are very happy to celebrate what is out of this world, God’s love for us, becoming part of this world when Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
What does this say about us, about you? It means that God thinks you are out of this world although part of this world! The world might put you down, others might put you down, you might even put yourself down but that is not how God looks on you. God wants to lift you up to see yourself out of this world! Again and again we see Jesus taking people by the hand and helping them up. He took the little girl by the hand that everyone thought was dead and she got up (Matt 9:25; Mark 5:41-42; Luke 8:54-55), he took Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand and lifted her up and her fever left her (Mark 1:31), he took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village and healed him. (Mark 8:22-25) This is God’s plan for you also. Jesus is able to take you by the hand and lift you up out of your world to his world. Jesus, the light of God, wants to enlighten you, all of us, to show us what God thinks of us which is really all that matters.
This is the gift of Christmas. There is really only one gift at Christmas that has any value worth talking about, the gift God gives us in Christ. The gift at Christmas for all of us is Jesus. Jesus will not force himself into your life, it is up to you to be open and receive Jesus. There was no room for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the inn the first Christmas (Luke 2:6). Are you making room for Jesus, Mary, Joseph in the inn of your heart this Christmas? Jesus can take you by the hand and lift you up out of your world to his world. Will you open your heart more to Jesus to allow him in to lift you up to who God plans you to be? Will you make room in the inn of your heart for Jesus this Christmas and every day?
There is one verse in the prophet Isaiah from many centuries before Christ and not about Bethlehem but which inspired all our nativity scenes where we see animals around Jesus in the manger. Isaiah wrote,
An ox knows its owner,
and an ass, its master’s manger;
But Israel does not know,
my people has not understood. (Isa 1:3)
Because of that verse, every nativity scene now has a cow and a donkey. There is something frightening in that verse. The cow knows its owner, the donkey knows where to get its food but God’s chosen people, Israel, during the time of Isaiah centuries before Christ, did not know God and did not understand the ways of God. God resolved that centuries later when God became one of us in Jesus so that we would know God and understand. What more could God have done for us? God gave us the greatest gift of all that first Christmas, his Son Jesus. Jesus invites you to give him a gift in return, the gift of your heart, the gift of you making room in the inn of your heart for him not just at Christmas or Easter but every day, and especially to worship him at Mass every Sunday. How terrible that centuries before Christ, Isaiah complained that while the cow knew its owner and the donkey knew where to get its food, the people of his time did not know God. Can you get to know Jesus who has done everything for you? Can you do something for Jesus, get to know Jesus as your best friend, open your heart to him and follow him in everything every day?
There is more. We are only fully human when we are turned to God, turned to Jesus, allowing him to lift us up to who we really are. If we do not understand or see ourselves as God does, if we only see ourselves as the world does apart from God, then we are sad. There is only one way to live, to live following Jesus every day, every week, every Sunday, because desire for God is in our very flesh. The only way to be fully happy and successful is to make room in the inn of our hearts every day for Jesus. The angel said to the shepherds “a Savior has been born for you who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) Jesus is our only Savior. If we do not follow Jesus our Savior we are lost because only Jesus is the way to the Father, the way to heaven, only Jesus can save us.
Are you making room for Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in the inn of your heart this Christmas? God thinks you are out of this world and wishes you to allow his Son Jesus to take you by the hand and lift you up out of your world to his world. God gave us the greatest gift of all that first Christmas, his Son Jesus. Jesus waits for you to give him a gift in return, the gift of your heart, the gift of you making room in the inn of your heart for him not just at Christmas or Easter but every day, and especially to worship him at Mass every Sunday. Jesus has done everything for you, can you do something for Jesus? Open your heart to Jesus.
© Fr. Tommy Lane 2015
More material for Christmas
Related Homilies: Now I know why You had to do it - a Christmas Parable
mp3 meditation: Baby Jesus surrounded by the animals (quality reduced for 56k dial-up modems)
stories for Christmas