CHRISTMAS 2019 (Night Mass)
Is. 9:1-6; Tit 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-11
CHRIST IS WHAT MAKES CHRISTMAS SPECIAL
- THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS
Christmas revolves around a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christmas is a time to exalt him and what he has done for the world. Christ is what makes Christmas special.
To explain this true meaning of Christmas, I would like us to begin from a text that seemingly has nothing to do with the Birth of Christ, a text that is quite familiar to us.
As Jesus approached Jericho
a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging,
and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening.
They told him,
“Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!”
The people walking in front rebuked him,
telling him to be silent,
but he kept calling out all the more,
“Son of David, have pity on me!”
Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him;
and when he came near, Jesus asked him,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
He replied, “Lord, please let me see.”
Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.”
He immediately received his sight
and followed him, giving glory to God.
When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.
- BARTIMAEUS’ FAITH
This blind man, to whom Luke attaches no name is identified by Mark as Bartimeus. He refuses to follow the crowd, but recognizes the person of Jesus. “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me”. This was his cry. Many people in the crowd simply followed Jesus because everybody was doing so. They were close to him but never recognized who he really was. This blind man has been hearing of his fame, and now the opportunity come so close. He is not ready to miss it. He cries out loud, even when the popular opinion is that he should shut up.
It is Christmas time. Many people are getting along with the flow and the frenzy of the season. They are into the buying, the selling, the decorating, the eating and drinking; they are into the celebration of Christmas! It is easy to get into the Christmas ‘wahala’ because it is the cool thing to do. After all, everybody is celebrating Christmas this way. Non-Christians are into manufacturing the Christmas toys, clothes and decoration. Non-believers are travelling across the globe to buy and sell Christmas goods. Christian families are buying and buying, and consuming and consuming, with little or no thought for the ‘CHRIST’ about who the celebration is centered.
- CHRISTMAS CALLS US TO A FAITH LIKE BARTIMAEUS’
Like Bartimaeus, we are invited to recognize the true nature and person of Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem today. He is the Son of David, as foretold by the prophets from of old. He is TRUE GOD AND TRUE MAN as we proclaim in our
Creed. He is the savior who has come to free us from sin and death. That is why we can call out to him “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me”.
A thorough reading of the Gospel accounts about Jesus tells us that Jesus’ trip to Jericho during which he restored the blind man’s sight was the very last in his life. Jesus never passed that way again. If Bartimaeus had missed that opportunity, he would have remained blind all his life. But he took a quick of advantage of the first and unique opportunity that came his way, and he cried out to Jesus. His request was granted.
This Christmas is special to you. It may be the last for us (we do not wish it so), one never knows. The sensible thing for us to make use of this celebration to meet Jesus the “Christ” who has been born today. THAT LITTLE BABY IN THE MANGER IS GOD.
- IN JESUS, IS THE FULFILMENT OF THE PROPHESIES OF OLD
Jesus is the one about whom the prophet Isaiah foretells: “There is a Child born for us, a Son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give Him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace” (Isaiah 9:5).
About him, St. Luke wrote “Today a savior has been born to you in David’s town; he is the Messiah and the Lord.” Luke 2:11
Matthew, the evangelist quotes the words of the angel of God to Mary: “You shall call him ‘Jesus’ for he will save his people from their sins” Mtt 1:21,
Again, in Matthew 1:23, we find that he was to be called EMMANUEL, which means “God with us.”
This is why the Apostle Paul referred to Christ as the “Indescribable (Unspeakable) Gift” in 2 Corinthians 9:15.
Saint Peter the Apostle proclaims that “of all the names in the world given to men, this (the name of Jesus) is the only one by which we can be saved” (Acts 4:12).
In spite of his physical blindness, Bartimaeus recognized Jesus for who he really is. Following his example, we are invited at this Christmas to call out on Jesus: “Lord that I may see!” For, when Jesus came into the world, his own people (we, included) did even pay attention to him: “He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1:10-11). May he open our physical and spiritual eyes that we may see the “Christ” (Saviour) in the baby, born of Mary. May this Christmas make a definitive difference in our lives as Christians, by our acknowledgement of Jesus as our LORD AND SAVIOUR.
- JESUS IS JOY TO THE WORLD
The birth of Jesus brings joy to all. Today the Church officially proclaims that joy: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:4-5). No one is excluded from this Christmas joy. Our Saviour is born today! Let us truly make our own the following words of Hymn 147 of the Cameroon Hymnal:
Joy to the world the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King,
Let every heart prepare Him a room
and heaven and nature sing.
I conclude with a famous painting. It shows Jesus standing before a door, his hand lifted in a gesture of knocking. When the artist first showed the painting to the public, some sharp-eyed person noticed that the door had no knob. He said to the artist, “you made a mistake. What kind of door is that without a handle?” But the artist replied, “You are correct, but it was not a mistake. The only handle is on the inside. Only YOU can open that door to Jesus.” Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart tonight. Let him come in. Ask him for that miracle you need. There is more! God wants to do a miracle in your life.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!