My Sisters and Brothers celebrating this Holy Day of the Lord’s Nativity!
The Baby-boy whom we adore in the manger today grew and when he was a grown man, once in a conversation with his followers he described himself as living water. It is the water that is not only good for us but it is necessary. That’s why the angels were so busy on that Christmas day. They didn’t sing quite hymns but they made big noise so that shepherds could hear them and be attracted to come to the place where the Baby Jesus was, and if the shepherds had troubles to understand that those angelic hymns meant to get them to the stable, the inhabitants of heaven told them plainly: “Go to Bethlehem and you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” The stable became like a well with living water. God’s mercy was revealed those days not simply by giving humankind the Saviour, our living water, but directing those first drawers to the place where He was to be found.
As we gaze at the poverty of Jesus’ birth place let’s not feel sorry for him to born in such a place but let’s thank him that he was born in such an accessible place that only lack of faith and humility could stop from coming to him. If he was born in a comfortable palace only a few rich would have access to him. The stable in Bethlehem was accessible to all like the well in Cameroun I mentioned at the beginning.
People still make their way to Bethlehem to venerate the place where Jesus was born but it is not a museum it is still the place where Jesus, living water can be found as in the cave where he was born as Holy Masses are still celebrated there. Jesus who was born there 2000 years ago is still being born when Bread and Wine become his Body and Blood. This is the main reason for us to be here today. We can have beautiful Christmas trees at home, we can sing Christmas Carrols beautifully, or sometimes out of tune, at home too, but what makes this building special is that Christ is born here on the Altar, he fills our souls also through his Holy Word we hear. As we listen to his Word, as we receive his Precious Body and Blood new life enters into us, like new life comes into thirsty people when they drink fresh water. Here our faith grows, we become stronger Catholics, more committed to Christ. However sometimes I hear statements like this: “Father, I go to church, I pray, I listen to the Word of Christ but my faith is still weak, it is tasteless.” What I ask in return is this: “Do you pray with your children? Do you teach your children Catechism? Do you talk to your friends, relatives and co-workers about Christ?” Usually I meet surprised eyes which make me go on saying: “The Holy Scriptures tell us that faith grows stronger when it is passed onto others!”
When Crist was born Mary did not keep Him to herself but she offered Him to us. When the shepherds came they found their joy and peace but on the way from the Stable they became the sharers of the Good News which they found in the Newborn. They didn’t keep Christ they encountered to themselves but they were telling everybody about Him.
Some time ago as I was walking to celebrate morning Mass I saw a little boy jumping as he was being walked to school by his mum. When I got to them I said: “You seem to be very happy today.” He answered: “Of course that I am. Last night I had my first Reconciliation and all my sins have been forgiven by Jesus.” Another sharer of the Good News. The shepherds from Bethlehem, the little school boy were like the people I saw in Cameroun drawing water not just for themselves but for others too.
Let me finish with another scene. This one is taken from a movie I have seen lately. The movie is called Mary of Nazareth. In the movie there is a scene of shepherds visiting the Newborn Jesus. As they approach the manger, the first man stretches out his arms silently begging Our Lady to give them her Son. She does. The shepherd receives Him with such longing that can be only compared to a man dying of thirst when he is given fresh water. The shepherd cannot take his eyes off the Saviour but do you know what he does next? He passes Him onto the next shepherd and the Baby is traveling from one person to another.
Dear Friends! My Christmas prayer is that each one of us can continue this action not only this Christmas Day, not only in the New Year but for the rest of our life. That is the secret of the strong faith. Now it is not a secret any more. You've been to the well of living water - Christ the Lord, take Him on the way home.