Tonight, we arrive to the same place with God at the same time. The only difference is that we arrive from darkness. God joins us from his home, his eternal brightness and dazzling grace. Saint Augustine of Hippo names this difference in a brave way: ‘Eternal death would have awaited you had he not been born in time!... Let us joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the holy day on which the great eternal day came into this, our so short and temporal day.’
This great contrast, our arrival from sin, and God’s arrival from eternal Love, merges into something wonderful. There is nothing so peaceful, there is nothing so beautiful, there is nothing so purely joyful than Christmas eve. We adore the beauty of the crib, the lights of the Christmas tree, the beauty that God’s arrival with Jesus’ birth creates.
Christmas has a secret. God’s arrival is not a passive one. It is not like that a meteorite of Beauty and love hits the earth and creates a dazzling beauty. The secret is that God in order to create this beauty and new life, needed our arrival too. He needs every single person, with their joys and shadows, pains and prayers to arrive. At the heart of our human joy which Christmas creates, there is a heartbeat of Christmas. Yes, there is a heartbeat of Christmas. And this heartbeat comes from the heartbeat of the newborn baby. The candle lights, the decorations of the Christmas tree, the joy of our gifts echoes one single truth. That is why this Baby came: ‘Today is the day on which the sins of the world are wiped away…’ ‘Today is the day on which the sins of the world are wiped away…’ Beat after beat, grace upon grace! What a wonderful news that we can celebrate! As Isaiah says, ‘You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase!’
Today we are given a present. A message. What is it? Today God makes us a special offer, which is up to us if we live with it. We adults often feel unprepared for Christmas. Today it does not matter. Christmas is a special time - in which we can start over again our unfinished, even non-started preparation. The closer God, the more support he gives us. Let us commit ourselves to this wonderful offer, to this life changing offer. It is not new year promises that matter and are important. What is real is our new Christmas promise. If we do it through prayer, praying regularly, we can break the deadlocks in our lives. New directions will emerge, new strength. Let us be showered on by God’s holy support. Let it be our sustaining support: ‘For there is a child born for us, a son given to us,…and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince of Peace.’ ‘O sing a new song to the Lord, sing to the Lord all the earth!’
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..