Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
Writing a homily for Christmas is made more difficult by the many homemade ideas that people cling to that are unreliable and have little to do with the truth of the incarnation that the Church first received from the Apostles. There are are at least three popular man made ideas that undermine the teaching of the Christian creed:
- The man Jesus Christ was a great teacher and a wonderful example to all of us of how we should live and behave. His claim to be God is mere legend, along with the Virgin Birth, Shepherds, and Wise Men which are all fairy tales. Rising from the Dead, Miracles, Ascending into Heaven, are all just later inventions, and have no historical authority. At best they may have value as Teaching Aids and Codes of Behaviour.
- Maybe Jesus was someone special but no more than a mere human being and there have been plenty of other individuals who have claimed to be in some way divine, but they have all died sooner or later.
- The followers of gentle Jesus have a lot to answer for having often been guilty of all sorts of misdeeds done in His Name: The Crusades, Slavery, and Persecutions and wars have all been justified by His followers.
Christmas in the Church often begins with St John’s Gospel telling a very different story! No shepherds or wise men, no little animals or twinkling stars but St John, a theologian and thinker saying: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God”. Jesus Christ, he tells us was the Word and Son of God and “was begotten of the Father before all worlds”. St. John does not begin the coming of Christ as a baby in Bethlehem, for the mystery of His birth was not “His beginning” (as the popular view supposes). He had existed as the Word of God the Son of God since creation was begun. This Word was revealed by the great Hebrew prophets. God’s Chosen People, the Jews, did not, as a whole, receive the Word as spoken by the prophets or believe in Him later when he lived on earth. They ended up by killing Him. But some believed in Him, and St John affirms that “to as many as received Him He gave the Power to become the Sons of God”. There was a purpose in his coming, and that was to save or set free the souls of humanity.
St John who had a special insight with his close friend of Jesus, and who took care of the Lord’s mother Mary in later life. John must have pondered these mysteries for many years before setting them down in his Gospel. He says precisely this in his final verses of his gospel, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if they should be written, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”
The Church of God, began on the feast of Pentecost guided by the Holy Spirit, and with the same Spirit has continued to develop her understanding of those things the followers had witnessed, finally writing things down more than fifty years after Jesus had been crucified and overcome death. We are challenged today by ideas that are not part of the written scriptures or the revelation handed down within the Church. So much that people have come to believe is simply man made, and are pitifully inadequate theories especially about the person of Jesus Christ and what he brings to our human predicament.
There are other really important beliefs which are the foundation of the Church’s teaching about Jesus Christ and why he came to live as a man. If people have indulged in fake beliefs sometimes going right back to their childhood, it is our duty to try and correct. Not always easy, but sometimes in this secular age they will actually be grateful, because more and more people are dissatisfied with the Secular Agenda which is always changing its moral position, and is drowning in lies and propaganda. Done sensitively we may have the best opportunities now to correct errors and guided by the Holy Spirit we may lead others who wish to hear, back to the real truth.
Our team of contributors wish all our friends a Happy Christmas with God’s blessing in the witness and ministry we are called to undertake.
Francis Gardom. Edward Bryant and Geoffrey Neal