Three simple words are at the heart of the message of Christmas: In the beginning. In the beginning! John begins his Gospel announcing the birth of Jesus this way but we have heard those three words before. The story of creation in the Book of Genesis opens with, In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth. John wants us to connect the new beginning of our salvation with the first beginning when God created the man and the woman in his own image and set them in the Garden to live in friendship with him. Yet we know what happened. They turned their back on God. And when God called out to them Where are you?, they hid. And thus began the long sad history of humanity: men and women created in Godís image, turning their backs on God to pursue their own selfish needs, then running from God, hiding from Him whom they spurned, Him who through all ages never ceases to cry out to us Where are you?
And we would still be hiding today except for Johnís awesome announcement of the new beginning: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In the fullness of time God sends his Son born of a woman .In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. In the fullness of time God sends his Son born of a woman. Why? The answer is as simple as the truth is overwhelming. God so loved the world that he sent his Son, the son who is the new beginning, the Son who is born into the world just as we are, the Son who alone can save us because he alone is the only begotten divine Son of God, he alone is the Word through whom God created the man and the woman, you and me. And he comes into the world as a baby, as the son of Mary, to save us and set us free.
No longer does God ask us where we are. For what came to be through him was life and this life was the light of the human race. Now he knows us and sees us as brothers and sisters of His son the true light which enlightens everyone has come into the world. The birth of Jesus changes everything for everyone. We need not hide any more. We have an advocate, a brother who is Lord and Savior. And he comes that we might have life and life to the full.
When Jesus began to preach in Galilee two of Johnís disciples saw him and began to follow behind him. Jesus turned and asked them a new question, What are you looking for? They answered Rabbi, where are you staying? He said, Come and See. They did. And Andrew ran to his brother Simon and said, We have found the Lord! And so Simon now called Peter discovered what we discover today: Godís Son who walks among us as one of us invites us all to come and see, invites us all to recognize that this new beginning means life and freedom, dignity and salvation for us all.
Today, my friends, the human hearts that see Jesus born of Mary rejoice because they know that the long night of darkness is over. We all are invited to come and see. We all are embraced by Godís love made manifest in the birth of a child in Bethlehem. This new beginning means that God now speaks to us through His Son, who is the refulgence of His glory, the Son worshipped by angels, the Son who is light to the world.
In the beauty of this new beginning for all humankind, we truly are called to rejoice today and every day of our lives. Yet we still must be realistic. Darkness still haunts our human race. Much of the world still does not know him and so many do not accept him. Therefore we who do know him, do accept him, must be ready to witness him and bring the light of his truth into the world about us.
We are called to witness to the truth that every human being has dignity and is a son and daughter of God. Every human being must be given respect because each of us, without exception, is a child of God. The violence that afflicts the Middle East destroys life and advances the forces of evil and death. In Syria and Iraq Christians and other religious minorities have become the victims of terrorists who claim that God gives them a right to destroy. This must come to an end. The trafficking
of children and women is a plague that cries to heaven and must find in us ready defenders of the victims who daily are exploited and constantly degraded. Too many people are homeless. Too many who have physical and emotional issues are being neglected. Too many have become migrants because of political persecution or exploitation by selfish interests.
Sectarianism and ideologies of power try to subvert democratic communities and impose a new dictatorship of the mob. In our own country where we have freedom, we also have the responsibility to exercise it within the bounds of the common good. This demands that we respect those men and women, police and firefighters, who risk their lives to keep us safe. And we must continue to stand up for religious freedom and freedom of conscience of persons and institutions wherever they are threatened across our land.
There is an answer. The answer has a name: Jesus Christ. Today we see him lying in a manger, the answer to the yearnings of the human heart, the answer that will heal our lives and heal our world. Jesus Christ, born of Mary is our brother and our savior. He speaks Godís words of hope and forgiveness, of life and love, of joy and peace because He is the Word and in Him we all have a new beginning, the beginning of life that never ends, life that is light, light for the world, light for our families and our Church, light for every human heart and for all of humankind. For the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Fatherís only Son, full of grace and truth. AMEN.