Archbishop Paul D. Etienne's 2019 Christmas Homily
St. James Cathedral, Seattle
On this Holy Night, we experience once again what the Prophets foretold of old. The One who is to comfort God’s people is born. (Isaiah 40) The desire of all nations, (Haggai 2:6-7) of every human heart is found wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
The Incarnation, the birth of God in human flesh is indeed an event for all people.
Caesar Augustus called for a census of people of the whole world. (Luke 2:1) The angel proclaimed to the shepherds Good News for all people. (Luke 2:10)
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us… They shall call him Wonder Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9: 1,5)
All of creation, all of humanity are present here with us this Holy Night, because the Child who is born encompasses the vastness of the universe and embraces every person with the love of God. The love of God is always with us in the person of Jesus.
Are you hurting, disappointed with how your life is going? Christ brings understanding. Are you alone or feeling isolated, Christ brings acceptance and friendship. Are you grieving the loss of a loved one? Christ brings consolation. He may not change our situation, but he walks with us. He is present in the very midst of the pain and suffering and confusion. All we need do is seek Him; knock at His door and receive Him whenever He approaches.
This is what Emmanuel means: “God with us.”
Are you burdened with guilt and shame? Christ brings mercy and healing. For all in our world that stirs fear, Christ calms hearts with his peace and renews hope. In the face of sadness, Christ brings joy. Emmanuel, God with us. This is who Jesus is, and this is the grace that he brings to every human heart.
Whether you are impoverished or enjoying an abundance, Christ brings completeness and richness beyond anything this world offers. And if you are filled with faith, hope, joy and gratitude, Christ is its source, and asks that we share this with others who are in need.
No matter who you are, the Christ Child welcomes you. No matter what you are dealing with in your life, bring it to Jesus. He is God with us. Jesus is the love of God, and he comes to us in the smallness of a child, so that we may know him and experience the unconditional love of God.
The Incarnation is the greatest event in human history! Because God chose to become one of us, to walk with us, to live our human life that we might be capable of entering divine life. God never gives up on us. He is patient and merciful. Let our celebration tonight cause us to rejoice greatly for our God comes to save us!