December 24, 2019 – Christmas Eve Mass
(Readings are taken from the proper of Mass during the Night. Click here for the readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/122519-the-nativity-of-the-lord-night.cfm)
It was an encounter with God in a very surprising manner. But how about you? Especially when you first watched this video, were you surprised by that? I am personally surprised by this video especially towards its end when the mother of the boy asked him if he ever found God. It was also surprising when the woman herself said that she too found God on that day.
For the boy, what was surprising was to realize that God was a woman and she was there waiting and sitting at the park. The boy was in search for God and so he did search for God and only to find God sitting on a bench in a park. Perhaps the boy did not know that that woman was homeless and lonely but through her, the boy encountered God, through the beautiful smile of the woman the boy has witnessed God’s most beautiful smile he has ever seen.
For that homeless, hungry and lonely woman, what was surprising was to realize that God was a boy, much younger than what she has expected. The woman was waiting for something to happen, waiting for some coins to be dropped, perhaps. She might have been waiting for some miracle. And indeed, a miracle happened before her eyes. A boy sat beside her, offered her a cake and ate with her. That moment, the woman witnessed God’s generosity and encountered God’s self through the goodness and innocence of the boy.
That video shows us that encountering God and being able to experience and witness God’s presence happen even in our common and ordinary dealings with others. The video brings us into that experience of surprise from God because God reveals his presence in ways that we do not expect.
This is the good news being preached to us tonight. There was a great surprise from the shepherds when the angel appeared to them announcing the birth of the savior. But they were more surprised to have found God in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes in a form of a vulnerable and defenseless baby.
What does it mean to us now? For me personally, what the video showed us and what the Gospel told us were quite disturbing for me at the beginning. I found it hard to reconcile the almighty and powerful God with that encounter of God in the image of a homeless woman or a young boy and worst in the image of a defenseless and poor baby in the manger. If we have been looking for God amidst the world’s power and riches, we might not see God. In these days, if we have been looking for God in our endless Christmas parties, in our extravagance and in our shopping spree at SM, Abreeza or G-Mall, we might not find God there. In fact, we might miss God in our Christmas celebration.
Tonight, God reminds us where to find him. God is right there on that bench, in the person of a homeless woman. God is there in that generous boy. God is there in that baby in the manger. Yes, God makes himself present in the lives on the homeless, the poor, the weak and vulnerable, with the victims and the oppressed, with the broken-hearted and the depressed, with the lonely and grieving, with the inmates and the sickly, the problematic and the dying, the refugees, the victims of war and calamities.
Our God is he who identifies himself with the weak and the poor and chooses to reveal himself also with the powerless and insignificant people in our society. This is symbolized by the shepherds in the Gospel. They were the first ones to have heard the good news. These shepherds who were considered as outcast and irrelevant to Jewish culture and society were favored by God because of their standing in the community. Our God reveals God’s self to them because God is making a statement. God is saying to us that he is the God of the outcast and the insecure, the God of insignificant people, the God of the weak and the powerless, of the poor and the broken-hearted.
This is the good news that the angel proclaimed to the shepherds and reechoed by the shepherds themselves when they encountered the baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph. God is telling us now that “He is truly with us.”
My friends, God is waiting for you and me. Jesus is born and is right there in our own stables, there in the helplessness of our neighbors. Jesus is there in our lonely and alone friend. Jesus is resting there in our hungry brothers and sisters. God is there in the person whom we have not forgiven, whom we have hated for so long. The Baby Jesus is there in our loved ones who distanced from us. Let us come and visit Jesus in the lives of others.
When we are able to do this, we will surely encounter God, his generosity and goodness to us like that homeless woman. We will surely be delighted with the most beautiful smile that we shall ever see like that little boy. We shall surely find peace and comfort like what the shepherds found.
In this Season of Christmas we may be filled with joy, with smiles on our faces as we proclaim to our neighbors, classmates, co-workers and relatives the goodness of God, his faithfulness and love for you and for me. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR