Mass on Christmas
If we are asked about the Christmas of 2010 or 2012, we will scratch our heads trying to remember. Especially as we get older, most Christmases seem alike. We send greetings to friends. We come to Mass on Christmas Eve. We exchange gifts with family. We eat turkey or ham for dinner. But this Christmas will be remembered for a long time. We mostly shopped on-line for gifts. We put on masks as we enter church. We cannot come together as a large family.
Actually this whole year has been like no other, at least in our memory. The world took cover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people lost their jobs, and many students were kept out of school. The virus has claimed well over a million lives and strained medical care severely. Everyone has felt frustration in being restricted, in one way or another, to their homes. For all this, many name science as our savior.
Science has told people how to avoid infection. It has also produced a vaccine that will likely decrease the length of the pandemic and save many lives. More than ever, people feel confident that science will meet every human need beyond the pandemic. Some even believe that eventually science will overcome death itself. But such confidence in science is not warranted.
Science has made life more comfortable, but it cannot take away sin, our greatest burden. Sin creates hatred and selfishness. It moves people to hurt one another and then makes them regret what they have done. Sin caused the white police officer in Minnesota to kneel on his African-American suspect’s neck until he died. Sin makes many today forget their commitments to their families in the pursuit of pleasure. Sin suggests that science will find a way for people to live forever when science itself shows that to be impossible.
Our salvation is not in science but in the one in whose birth we rejoice today. Jesus has taught us how to avoid sin. We must heed his lessons. More than that, however, Jesus died on the cross, a spectacle for the whole world to see and ponder. He was perfectly innocent, yet he died a victim of pride and prejudice. We should see in the forces that brought about his death – the pride of the Jewish leaders and the indifference of the Roman magistrate -- our own sins and repent of them. We can be assured of God’s forgiveness because He raised Jesus from the dead. We can also look forward to our resurrection because we have associated with Jesus.
Today we celebrate Jesus’ coming among us. We will want to keep a safe distance from those we do not live with. But we should bellow together “Joy to the World.” We rejoice because the savior whom our ancestors saw and touched has delivered us from sin and death.