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(Part 207)


December 25, 2016

Today’s readings:
Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm 98:1-6
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-18

Christmas is about Jesus’ coming into the world, born of the virgin Mary, by the power of the Spirit, according to the very plan of the Father. Jesus came as Savior of the world, as the light that shines in the darkness of the world. “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” (Jn 1:9).

It has now been two millennia since Jesus came, ministered to people, gave his life for our sins on the cross, and won for us our salvation. One-third of the world is Christian, but nominally. 99% of them are lost sheep, remaining in darkness and sin. “He was in the world, .... but the world did not know him.” (Jn 1:10). Many of these Christians have in fact turned against him, choosing to be anti-life and anti-family and anti-faith. Many liberals and modernists are trying to even change age-old teachings and Christian beliefs that have formed the bedrock of our faith. Christians today, and very many Catholics among them, have rejected the Christ. “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.” (Jn 1:11).

Every December we celebrate Advent and Christmas. But much of it has become empty of the true reason for the season. Much of it has been partying, gift-giving, shopping, eating and drinking. Celebrate, yes. But understand that what we celebrate is the coming of a Savior. Be joyful, yes, but know that we rejoice in the coming of our King and Lord. “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth; .... shout with joy to the King, the Lord.” (Ps 98:4a,6b).

What then must be done? This is the call to the New Evangelization. The Savior Jesus needs to be made known once again, and accepted as Lord. “In these last days, he spoke to us through a son, .... who sustains all things by his mighty word.” (Heb 1:2a,3b). Jesus “accomplished purification from sins” (Heb 1:3c). He has now gone up to heaven (Heb 1:3d) and looks to his people and Church to continue the work of salvation. He will come in glory to judge the living and the dead, “again, when he leads the first-born into the world” (Heb 1:6a). This refers to the parousia.

Between Christmas and the parousia, there is the work of evangelization. And given the sorry situation of God’s people today, with many Christians being baptized pagans, the Church has been called by the Spirit to the work of the New Evangelization.

John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord. “A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.” (Jn 1:6-7). Now we are called, to prepare the way for the Lord’s second coming. We are to testify to Jesus, to be his witnesses, to proclaim the word, to evangelize, to do mission. To the ends of the earth. So that all might believe in Jesus. We are God’s workers and instruments of His divine will and purpose. By the work of evangelization, “those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name” (Jn 1:12).

What then are we called to be? We are called to be holy warriors, charging into the darkness of the world to bring the light of Christ. Jesus already defeated the enemy in Calvary. “His right hand and holy arm have won the victory.” (Ps 98:1b). We as holy warriors share in that victory. “The Lord has made his victory known; has revealed his triumph in the sight of the nations” (Ps 98:2). If we boldly go forth as holy warriors, then God’s intent, from the very beginning, will happen, to bring the salvation of Jesus to the ends of the earth. “All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.” (Ps 98:3b).

Holy warriors, look to the empowerment that comes from the Spirit. “The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations” (Is 52:10a). This is empowerment for worldwide mission. What is the result of holy warriors giving their all to God and His cause? “All the ends of the earth can see the salvation of our God.” (Is 52:10b).

Then the angels and saints in heaven will all exalt: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, ‘Your God is King!’” (Is 52:7). The New Evangelization is all about the good news of salvation in Jesus and bringing people to accept him as Savior and Lord.

Then we really will have something to celebrate. “Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted his people, has redeemed Jerusalem!” (Is 52:9).

We say “Merry Christmas.” What this means is “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14). May the world indeed see the glory of God, as they believe and accept His Son as Savior and Lord.

So aside from Christmas greetings, we go forth as holy warriors. “John testified to him” (Jn 1:15a). That is what we are called to do as well.

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