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Bishop's Homily for Christmas

It is from the small and weak that salvation itself can transform the world

By Bishop Larry Silva
December 25, 2020

[Co-Cathedral of St. Theresa (Mass during the Night); Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (Mass during the Day)]

Defund the police!  This was a slogan we heard quite a bit this year, partly in reaction to a few police officers who abused their power, but partly by anarchists who would just like to let everything fall apart.  Of course, we appreciate our police and all they do to protect us.  But isn’t it actually a dream we should have, not only of defunding the police but of living in a world where the police are not needed at all because everyone follows the law God has written in their hearts?

Congress and the President have been battling over the last few days over funding for the military.  And while we appreciate all of our men and women in uniform who serve our country and keep it safe, should we not hope for a world in which no country needs a military at all, because there is true peace on earth and goodwill toward all?

We have many programs in our Church and in our community to feed those who are hungry and to shelter those who have no room in the inn or anywhere else to lay their heads, and many generous and loving people support them by their donations or their personal involvement.  But should we not dream of a day when homeless shelters and soup kitchens are simply no longer needed because everyone has the means to live in dignity, with proper nutrition and shelter?

We all experience to some extent the abuse of words, words that deeply hurt, words that divide, and words that simply cannot be trusted.  But should we not at least dream of a world in which words always bring healing, hope, truth and love?

None of us is so naïve as to think that once we leave our beautiful Christmas celebration that we will be completely safe on our streets and in our homes, that we will never again see a homeless encampment, or that every word spoken will be of peace and goodwill.  But if we never imagine such a world, if we never dream of it, can the mustard seeds of God’s love ever truly take root and grow?  If no one sings of the bursting of yokes that burden shoulders, of the smashing of rods of cruel taskmasters, and of the burning of blood-soaked battle boots, will there ever be a world where this little child whose birth we celebrate will truly be the Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, and Prince of Peace?

What we are doing here today is not just a family tradition or a momentary escape from all the woes and wild wanderings of the world.  It is a service we give to the entire world, because from this little gathering, the news of peace on earth and goodwill to all can be kept alive, no matter how small and weak it might seem, because it is from the small and weak that salvation itself can transform us and all the world.  How essential it is for the sake of this forgetful world that we remember the frenzied joy of angel choirs who announced the birth of the Christ and Lord of us all, but who pointed out the most humble sign of a little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.  How important it is for the welfare of all people that we, who can be as brute as beasts, can feed at the manger on the Bread of Life and remember Bethlehem, the House of Bread.  How vitally important it is that we join our earthly voices to the voices of heaven in singing “Glory to God in the highest!”  With this little mustard seed of the Word-made-flesh, what seems impossible can become a reality, and what seems a child’s fairy tale can be the Good News that transforms nations and kingdoms, and every heart within them.  How important it is for us who tend the flocks of our families, our businesses and our communities to take time out to adore the finest Lamb any shepherd has ever seen, the Lamb of God.  How essential it is for us to expose the lie that we are doomed to live in misery, conflict, and pain, and to keep alive the spark of Truth, so that it may be fanned into a flame of love that consumes the whole world, burning away its sin and making it shine with the Light of Lights.  It is but a little thing we do, but how God can accomplish so much from what is so little, the little Babe of Bethlehem, our only Savior, the Word-made-flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-us!