- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

December 25, 2019

Fr. Isaac Slater, OCSO

Christmas Day Mass

Christmas belongs to everyone, and transcends the church and Christianity.
For some, this is the one day of the year they come to church; there is a unique light and peace to the feast of Christmas that welcomes and attracts even those coming from a distance.

The fathers spoke of ‘seeds of the Word’ planted in all cultures, elements of revelation present in every tradition… so that when the Word enters time as a human child at Christmas all people might feel a spark of recognition, and even be drawn as by a kind of magnet…like the Magi in the gospel.
God spoke in partial and various ways in the past but now he speaks himself, the personified Word of his creative wisdom…in the language of the unique, particular human life of Jesus.
Christianity is not one religion among others (in a certain sense it is not even a religion)… and Christ is not one god among other gods.He is rather the creator of ALL through whom ALL came to be.

St Gregory Nazianzen wrote of how Christ assumed every aspect of our humanity, in order to heal all.
He is the light of the entire human race and his invitation extends to each person: Come to me, all you who labor and I will give you rest. God the creator of all by entering into his creation as a fragile limited player on the stage shows us a new way to be human, to be fully human by assuming all, every weakness, by a willingness to suffer with and for all, opening ourselves to a reality beyond anything we can control or define
The law came thru Moses but grace and truth through Jesus Christ. Just as in the Christian vision creation is not an agonistic intra-cosmic battle , with a demiurge wresting order from chaos… but a free gift born of the superabundant, totally gratuitous love of a transcendent Creator so the gospel is not one more religion, one more way of dividing the pure from the impure, the sacred from the profane, but the light of the human race.

In Jesus God speaks his definitive word in the language of a singular human life: showing us from within time how to live without violence, a way of forgiveness and acceptance. Not separating, judging and excluding to boost our own fragile identity, and the identity of our tribe…
…but finding we are already with everyone, the entire human race as totally undeserving recipients of his saving grace: From his fullness we have ALL received.

“The Lord has bared his arm in the sight of all the nations”: not to flex his muscles, not to compete with the nations as if he were one of them, but baring himself as a powerless infant, as a crucified criminal when ‘his own people did not accept him.’
By his willingness to suffer and forgive all, to embrace and share in every human misery, he became the light of the world and brought grace and truth to everyone—‘all the ends of the earth will behold his salvation.’

Jesus is the ‘heir of all things’—all of creation, all of history belongs to him because he is their meaning and completion—he is the substance they foreshadow.
He is the Word from the timeless beginning: all things came to be through him and bear his imprint just as he is the imprint of the Father and the refulgence of his glory.
He sustains all things by his mighty word: each moment each of us, every creature is held in being by his creative will.

What came into the world with Jesus was life, a life that is the light of the entire human race; not the light of an abstract truth, but a truth that can only be known by participation, by sharing in it.
This life is expressed in the world as forgiveness, as not judging, as a willingness to suffer with and for all. It is this life we receive in the eucharist— a life that can transform us into light for all people, a light the darkness can never extinguish.