This reading from the gospel of Luke retells the eternal story of the birth of Jesus. Here before us we have the (living) nativity scene to help us remember that God became a little baby, was born of the virgin Mary at Christmas, and came with a mission to save us.
Tonight I want us to think about the people who are present at the birth of Jesus. Mary and Joseph – aware of God’s plan and obedient to it. In awe of God who was physically present with them – and yet helpless like a little baby. Imagine how they must have looked with love and adoration at Jesus after he was born.
And then there are the shepherds. The angels announced the good news to them and so off they went in obedience to the message. They made the sacrifice and traveled through the countryside in order to see Jesus. And to adore him.
Obedience and adoration. These are the examples of Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds for us to think about this Christmas.
So let’s unwrap the idea of obedience and adoration a little bit.
We’ll talk about obedience first. I want to tell you want this means. Now, for those of you who have heard me say this before, it’s a good reminder. And for those who haven’t it’s a good insight. Obedience comes from the latin root ob audire. It is a verb and it means – “to listen. Or to give ear to” So the very idea of obedience comes from attentive listening.
Mary and Joseph and the shepherds all listened to God’s invitation and responded positively. They were open to the idea and went along with it.
So now I want to say that listening to God is a very important thing for us to think about this Christmas. Because Christmas is about obedience to God’s good plan for each of us.
Now, if God had something important to say to you, then would you be open to listening to it? Yes or yes?
Would you like to know how you can listen to God?
First, you have to decide that you want to listen. So make a commitment at this mass tonight give lots of time this year to listening to God.
Second, you have to use the time effectively to listen to God. So here are some things you can do.
Make a commitment to attend mass every Sunday. Now, there are already two reactions to this one in the congregation. The first is this – I already go. Tell me something new. The second is this – the last time I went the priest was boring, or said something I disagreed with, or I got totally distracted by that kid running in the aisle throwing cheerios, or that grouchy person said something mean to me, or…..you get the idea. Lots of little reasons. But it’s not about the priest or the music or the kid or the grouch or any of those other things. It is about God. And if you make the commitment to attend mass every Sunday to listen to God then you will have a good chance of actually hearing something.
Now, that you have decided to commit – or re-commit to mass every Sunday, then do this. Pray to the Holy Spirit before mass starts to give you one message from the mass that you need. Now, I guarantee you that if you do this then you are going to get messages that will be powerful. They will change your life. Somewhere during the mass, in the reading or the homily or the songs or the prayers, the Holy Spirit will make a little light go off in your head and you will think to yourself – that’s it!
Final step. When you hear that little message – tell me, are you going to remember it? Well, for the vast majority of us who get distracted and whose memories have sprung fatal leaks, you need to write it down. So get yourself a little Christmas present this year and buy a journal. Write these little messages from mass down in your journal. You need to write this stuff down in order to remember it. And I guarantee you that when you start to hear the Holy Spirit speaking to you, you won’t be wondering if that was it. These messages that the Holy Spirit gives are tailor made for you. They will knock your socks off with their power. They will be simple and clear. All you have to do is make the commitment to listen. God will bring the inspiration and then the light bulb will go off in your head.
So here are the steps. 1. Commit to mass every Sunday. 2. Pray to the Holy Spirit to speak to you. 3. Write down what you hear.
If you start accumulating these little messages from God to you during mass, then you will find that the mass changes from something strange or boring to something that becomes as important to your life as food. And food’s pretty important. Try not eating for a week. Spiritual food is also just as important.
Do you want joy in your heart?
Then be like Mary and Joseph – come to Jesus. Listen, and adore.
Do you want peace in your heart?
Then be like the shepherds – come to Jesus. Listen, and adore
Do you want wisdom – a better way of thinking and acting?
Then be like the saints down through the ages. – come to Jesus. Listen, and adore.
Oh come let us adore him, Oh come let us adore him, Oh come let us adore him. Christ the Lord.