THE NATIVITY OF THE LORD – CHRISTMAS (MASS DURING THE NIGHT) YEAR A ON DECEMBER 24, 2019 (R. 1: Isaiah 9: 1- 6; Psalm 96: 1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13; Titus 2: 11-14; Luke 2: 1-14)

FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO

O COME LET US ADORE HIM!
And why are we here again? We are here to celebrate a historical event, and a mysterious event, which will end in majesty. It is the historical event of the birth of Jesus in time. It is also a mysterious event, beyond the full comprehension of the human mind. His story in time will continue until when he comes back in majesty at the end of time. There are three points here, namely, history, mystery, and majesty.
To assure us that what we celebrate today is a historical event, in today’s Gospel passage, Luke tells us the story of the birth of Jesus in the context of world history. He does not just tell us that Jesus was born; he tells us other notable world events that were taking place at the same time. He tells us the name of the Emperor at that time (Caesar Augustus), he tells us which census was taking place at that time (the first enrollment), he tells us the name of the governor of Syria at that time (Quirinius). So what we celebrate today is not a made-up story; it is a historical event.  
This historical event is surrounded by mystery. One strong message from the story of the birth of Jesus is that “Man’s rejection is God’s protection.” When the world denies us of comfort, when the world rejects us, God can turn it around and use it to fulfill His great plans in our lives. When the time came for Jesus to be born, Luke tells us that “there was no room for them in the inn.” The human beings he came to save could not offer him accommodation; he was rejected even before he was born. But what seemed to be rejection was part of God’s mysterious plan. Because human beings would not accept him, he was born among sheep. Do not be too surprised by this; he came not as an emperor; he came to be our Shepherd. He would refer to himself as the Good Shepherd, so it is proper to begin his journey with sheep that he may learn to treat us like his tender sheep. Little wonder too that the first set of people outside of his immediate family to receive the news of his birth was a set of shepherds who were watching their flock at night. Hearing the news, they immediately realized that all they were doing was just a rehearsal, they realized that they were only a foreshadow of the real Shepherd, and so they abandoned their post and went in haste to welcome the real and eternal Shepherd. Man’s rejection is God’s protection.
Because human beings rejected him and gave him no accommodation, he was born in a manger. There again lies the divine mystery. The manger is a box or a trough in a stable from which some animals eat their food. The word manger etymologically comes from the French verb manger, which means “to eat,” or the Latin manducare, which also means “to eat.” Does it sound shameful that when God the Son was born, his first bed was a box from which animals eat their food? Don’t take it that way; it is part of God’s mysterious plans. When he grows up, he will say, “I am the bread of life…” (John 6:35). He came to be our food, so God protected him through human rejection to begin his journey from inside a plate to fulfill his mission of feeding us unto eternal life. And the humble town in which he was born is called Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.” Where is more fitting for the Bread of life to be born than in the House of Bread! 
Since he was born in a cave, in a house meant for animals, the entrance door is very low. And that is part of God’s plan. He made it that way so that anyone who wants to come to the King of Kings in the manger must bend down. This might be more challenging for those of you who are very tall, but do not worry; we are not talking about physical height here, it is about your spiritual disposition; it is about our thinking and your attitude. Anyone who wants to see him must come in humility. If we do not bow down in humility, we will not have a share in the many blessings he has brought to us from heaven. 
Bowing down is an attitude of humility; it is also an attitude of adoration. At Christmas, in case we forget that we have come to the King of Kings, the height of the door to where Jesus was born would remind us that we have to bow to the King of Kings in adoration. And so, why are we here again? We are here to adore Jesus Christ, the Lord, the King of Kings. We are here to adore Him in the Scriptures, to adore Him in the Sacraments, especially the Most Blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood; we are here to adore him in his mystical body the Church.
Remember that his story in time will end in Majesty when he comes in glory to judge the living and the dead. On that day, he will judge us based on how we treat one another; he will say, “When I was hungry you gave me to eat, when I was thirsty you gave me to drink, now enter into the home of my Father… whatsoever you do to the least my people you do unto me” (cf. Matthew 25: 31ff). So, we are called to also adore Jesus in one another, in our family members, our friends, in the children in the womb, in the immigrant, in the citizen, in the documented, in the undocumented, in the sick, in the healthy, in the rich, in the poor, even in those who do not believe in God. We are here to adore Jesus Christ, the Lord, and so:
O come all ye faithful Joyful and triumphant
O come ye o come ye To Bethlehem
Come and behold Him Born the King of angels

O come let us adore Him O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him Christ the Lord

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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