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Christmas Eve 2020, Fr. Paulus Budi Kledin, SVD

Christmas Eve Homily
of Father Budi Kleden

Christmas! The Lord is born as a child in a manger. The Most High has become small, the Most Holy has entered the world of the sinners. There are many paradoxes that we encounter at Christmas! Yes, Christmas reveals the paradoxes of our faith. Reflecting on the readings today, I will underline three of them. Then, I will propose a virtue needed to live these paradoxes for each one.

The first paradox is light and darkness. The first reading starts with the words: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shone.” The birth of the Lord shines like a light to our journey as individuals and as community alike, as Society, as Church, and the human family. It is a great light when the yoke is smashed. This is the yoke of our weaknesses, of the suffering of many people caused by the arrogance and insensitivity of others. It is also the yoke provoked by the pandemic global crisis which we have been experiencing in these last two years. A great light is shining in the darkness of our path. It is that weight of the pole taken away from our shoulders. The weight of our failures and mistakes in the past, the weight of the unexpected heavy burden of the responsibility that we have accepted. It is the yoke of the scandals of the Church. But Christmas also teaches us that this light does not cast away all the darkness. The presence of the Lord does not cause all negative situations to disappear from our life. On the contrary, this light reveals the dark places on our path. The angel proclaims that this child is the Emmanuel, the Lord with us. And yet, how often do we find ourselves in situations in which we have to ask: where is God? We feel abandoned and forgotten by the Lord. Christmas manifests to us that the Lord is and continuously says: here I am. But, how often are we looking for him without being able to see his face and hear his voice?
This is the holy paradox of the Lord, and to live it, we need to be humble. Our faith does not guarantee that everything will be obvious. The Lord is there in the light and in the darkness. The faith of Christmas reminds us that we are still on the way, and on this way, we experience the moments of light and the situations of darkness. Christian humility is against religious triumphalism that promises people to respond to all their questions.

The second paradox is greatness and simplicity. The Gospel tells us that the angel announces to the shepherds: “Today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger”. The Lord is great, and his greatness is the guarantee for security. And yet, this greatness is revealed in a child of a migrant family, a child who incorporates all the signs of fragility. The greatness of the Lord is the promise of his abundance, but in Bethlehem, this greatness is presented in poverty. Christmas invites us to see and acknowledge the greatness in all people, including the poor and marginalized, and in all events, especially those which seem to be insignificant. But Christmas also demonstrates that our God is himself a God of simplicity. The Lord, from all eternity, makes himself small because he is love, and the essence of love is simplicity. It is the capacity to make one’s self small for the sake of others.
To live this paradox of faith, we need to be courageous. We need the courage to do as God does, emptying ourselves, going out of the greatness, of the spaces and situations where we feel great, secure, and comfortable to reach out to others. Courage means the readiness to take all the risks so that others, especially the small and simple ones, can live.

The third paradox is that the Divine and the profane. In his letter to Titus, Saint Paul writes: “The grace of God has appeared, saving all.” The birth of Jesus demonstrates that the Lord has not created a history independently from the history of humanity. Grace is not a separated reality from the world. The Lord has entered into our history. The Divine has put himself in the world to transform it from within. Our world, with its profanity, is the place of the Lord, the place to find him and dedicate ourselves to him. Human beings are so unique in the eyes of the Lord that he has decided to become one of us. Therefore, dedicating ourselves to promoting this word is our mission. To be human in all its dimensions is our vocation. Like the Lord himself, let us embrace this world and humanity, and with the Lord, let us transform the world and humanity.
In this paradox of faith, it is vital to living in solidarity. Solidarity means showing our closeness and communion with others, walking together, supporting each other to live more human, and encouraging one another.

Let us ask the child Jesus for his blessings, to be more humble, courageous, and showing solidarity.

Collegio del Verbo Divino, Rome,
December 24, 2021