Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword "Coming ready or not"
Remember the days of playing "hide and seek", and the seeker would make that announcement. Well, it'€™s a bit like that as we approach the Feast of Christ'€™s birth. Ready or not, the occasion is on us. Hopefully, we are ready to benefit from this annual celebration of God'€™s presence in our lives.

Micah 5: 1-4: This reading informs us that it is from Bethlehem in Judah that the "Comforter" will come; in Him people will find strength and encouragement.

Hebrews 10:5-10: The unknown author of this letter, written to lift the spirits of the struggling Jewish converts, tells them to see in Christ'€™s humanity tangible evidence of God'€™s concern for His people.

Luke 1: 39-44: Mary also shows her compassion as she hastens to visit Elizabeth so as to comfort and to encourage her.

Point 1: Our liturgy today sets the stage for what we have been waiting for - "the day of expectation is near at hand". And, in this mood, we give ourselves over to those last minute preparations. Unfortunately, in some cases, we push ourselves to the limit emotionally, physically, and, it might be added, financially, so as to be ready. But, ready for what? For many this is a good question. It is a fact that instead of leaving people uplifted and encouraged, Christmas turns into a time of massive let down. Statistics indicate that in response to this disappointment, the death and suicide rate rises noticeably. In these last days of immediate preparation, our schedules are upset. We miss out on beauty sleep; we eat too much, drink too much, so much so that Boxing Day for some becomes just that as tensions snap and tempers flare. The origin of the term Boxing Day is quite different. One explanation of the name is that the practice originated in England whereby those too busy on Christmas Day - servants and the like - waiting on their "Lords and Masters" all received their "boxes" (presents) on the day following Christmas.

Point 2: Returning to our point of Christ being a let-down for many. This happens particularly where the real focal point of the Christmas celebrations has not registered - namely, God coming amongs people to teach them and to encourage them in the matter of living good lives. This physical presence of God manifested in the person of Christ, the Anointed One, is to encourage and to lift peole'€™s hope in the promise given by Christ -"I have come that you may have life and that in its fulness". No longer is God a vague, mystical Being detached from people'€™s struggles. Surely, this must bring comfort to people struggling to find meaning for living; surely it must help to know that despite the fact that, as individuals, we are fairly limited, imperfect and, at times, terribly dull types, God is still interested and is always there to encourage each one personally -"And, remember, I am with you always, to the end of time".

Conclusion: That is why, in these final days of preparation, our approach to Christmas should be that we do not lose sight of the real meaning of the celebration - Christ bringing to people hope and encouragement through His presence amongst them.

There are times in the lives of most people when they feel that God is very close to them. Perhaps the most common experience of this is at child birth. The parents'€™ intimate share in the process whereby new life is born fills them with awe, reverence, gratitude, peace and love. As we recall Christ'€™s coming amongst people, may we be filled with that same sense of awe, reverence, gratitude, peace and love.

Scriptural reference: In Him was life, and the life was the light of the people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1: 4-5)