Sermon given by Father Pancras Raja on December 29th, 2019
Sunday within the octave of Christmas
“Behold, this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel” (Lk. 2: 34)
Today’s gospel commemorates the presentation of Our Lord in the temple, forty days after his nativity. The blessings of Our Lord’s nativity were first shared to Holy Mary and Blessed Joseph, then to the shepherds and kings, and now to Simeon and Anna.
Christmas has been celebrated by all. But all are not called to receive its real and salvific blessings. Indeed, Jesus Christ came to save all, but all are not willing to be saved by him! Hence Simeon today prophesies that through this Child many should correspond with the grace of salvation, while many others, through their own fault would be lost! “Behold, this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel.”
This is a timely reminder, therefore, for all of us who have celebrated Christmas in a grant scale, to see to it that the nativity of Our Lord may not be for us a stumbling block and a cause of our fall into temporal affairs, but a cause of resurrection unto spiritual life and everlasting joy!
We feel glad indeed when Christmas comes. Because it is a very pleasant feast with its festivity and amusements; with its sending out and replying of “greetings”, and its giving out and exchanging “gifts.” But the original Christmas day – with its cold weather, its poverty and humiliation – was quite a different thing!
It is right for us to rejoice at Christmas! Not because of its temporal amusements, but at the nativity of the eternal incarnate wisdom – “our eyes have seen the salvation” as Simeon exclaimed: “Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, …. Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples; a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel!” (Lk. 22: 29 – 32) That is the cause of our joy at Christmas!
And if we want to rejoice at the salvation which was bornin the stable at Bethlehem, then we must be prepared to accept the “cross” on which salvation was accomplished – at Calvary! See how beautifully, and how immediately today’s liturgy unites the values of the “Incarnation” and “Redemption” of Jesus Christ!
Let us look at our Lady wo joyfully holds the baby Jesus in her alms, – and at the same time sorrowfully ponders over the cross prophesied by Simeon: “and thy own soul a sword shall pierce!”
For many of us Christmas was a happy one. But there are many who happen to think that this year the Christmas was not that happy! – because of some one’s illness in the family, because of an accident, or of a sudden death, or of utter poverty, suffering, humiliation and so on.
But the real happiness lies not in these external and temporal signs of well or ill being. It lies in the supernatural well being of one’s spiritual life – in keeping the sanctifying grace always in the soul! And I would say that it is the second category of people who are worthier of rejoicing at Christmas – by uniting their illness, suffering and mourning, and their poverty together with the poverty of the stable at Bethlehem and with the piercing of the Immaculate heart of Our Lady at the temple.
Yes, my dear brethren, the grace of Christmas must strengthen us to face the cross of Christian life! Let us not fall away when the cross is offered to us – because, it is by bearing the cross ourselves, that we can rise from sin.
Cross stops us from sinning
Jesus Christ loves His children so much that He gave us two important skills to survive in this world, one is the cross that we bear with our Faith in Christ and the other is His love, that helps us to rise above the sins and lead a Holy life.
It is our Love for Christ which enables us to choose to bear the cross, and to walk in the way He showed us to walk, it is our Faith in Him that enables us to die with Him on the Cross. It is His love for us that gives us the desire which enables us to raise up from our inordinate affections and delivers us from the clutches of the sin and to walk in the path of salvation and sanctification.
Jesus Christ bore the cross and due to His obedience and His Love for His Father, the same way we out of our obedience and love for our Father Lord Jesus Christ, we bear our cross. The intent for which we bear the cross is the same as that of Christ, our submission to the will of the Father, and our renouncing of the sinful and lustful life. We choose not to die eternally by running behind the sinful life, but we choose to die on the cross. We do not choose the weakness of the flesh.
As we carry the cross, we walk the path to Calvary, which feels so abandoned, painful, lonely, helpless, hopeless and weak, but as we go through all these, we overcome the sin, lust, greed, ego, self-image, and anger.
We must be Joyful and happy about the satanic influences which are attacking the OLMC at present with greed, ego, self-image, and anger.
Thank God for the Cross of Christ and all its benefits
Herein indeed God shows his love to us, in that “when as yet we were sinners, …. Christ died for us, (Romans 5:8) that “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. (Romans 5:10) In this is charity: “not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) and “not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
The child of Bethlehem then, with the cross in hand for a Christmas present for us – is set for the fall of many by their natural weakness, but for our resurrection by his supernatural grace of salvation and sanctification. It is not by possessing all the wealth we needed, but by acquiring internal peace of sanctification through grace that we enjoy the real happiness in this world.
The story of a happy man’s shirt.
Yes, real happiness is found only in not having any attachment towards our own likes and dislikes, and towards things and persons of this world.
Let us welcome Jesus at Christmas because our salvation is born at Bethlehem, let us welcome his cross too, because he born to accomplish our salvation and sanctification on his cross.