Homily – December 22, 2019

Matthew’s gospel presents us with a teenage girl and a teenage boy invited into the mystery of what John describes his gospel, ‘and the word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.’ The young Mary and Joseph had no idea what was ahead for them’ yet both these young people said in their own way, ‘let it be done to me.’ Both these young people made their lives available to God. When Mary heard about her Cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy she went in haste to see if she could be of help.

In the days to come things didn’t work out too well for Mary and Joseph, in fact everything got botched up. Instead of the support of their families as their baby’s birth drew near, they found themselves facing a treacherous journey during the last stage of Mary’s pregnancy. In Bethlehem they would have no suitable place to stay, any family or friends around for support. Their earliest days of parenthood would be full of fear and flight. Eventually Mary and Joseph found themselves to be strangers in a strange land.

The Irish have a tradition of what is called the Christmas candle. In many homes on Christmas Eve a single candle was placed in the window. It stayed lit all night. If the Holy Family had no place to stay, if a homeless person had no place to stay, the Christmas Candle was a message that they would find welcome and comfort in that home, no matter how poor it might be.

As all of us prepare for the great celebration of the birth of Jesus it would be a blessing for us all to have a Christmas candle, a message of welcome to the many immigrants and refugees who want to come to Canada and start a new life, a life free of oppression and persecution, free of civil strife, as many of our own families in years past.

Different groups and some politicians want us to believe that hordes of illegal people are sneaking into Canada and we’ve had enough immigration. It’s called xenophobia, a fear of the stranger. A mindset totally opposed to the spirit of Christmas.

As we prepare to welcome the birth of Jesus wouldn’t be a Christmas blessing if our hearts, our mindsets were free of bigotry and prejudice towards men and women of different cultures, different life styles or different faiths.

In all nativity cribs we see the infant laying in a manger his arms wide open welcoming each one of us into his life and love. Wouldn’t it be a Christmas gift to each of us if Christ blessed us with the gift of openness and acceptance for all those men, women and children from distant lands who come to Canada and into our lives?

It would be a Christmas blessing if each one of us was a Christmas Candle of welcome, not just to Jesus, but to every person who comes into our lives,

Wouldn’t be a special Christmas if each one of us was a Christmas candle, a shining light of welcome