The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) – At the Vigil Mass | December 25, 2019
So I am part of a rather large family.
With my mom being one of 8 and close to fifty cousins between the two sides, I have grown up being surrounded by family members.
And boy, are we a crew.
Scattered across North America, from the coasts of California to the plains of Texas to the frozen tundras of Canada, we embody all of the diversity one can imagine.
We’ve got lawyers and teachers, stay-at-home moms and entrepreneurs, social workers and grocery clerks. And you know, a couple of religious mixed into the bunch.
We are over 80 and under 5. We are liberals, conservatives, apathetic about politics and genuine conspiracy theorists.
Catholics and Protestants with a smattering of Muslims, Jews and Atheists to keep it interesting. We have family members making six figures and family members who were unemployed, and family members who struggle to pay the bills.
And being family has always been a wild ride.
Boisterous debates over overflowing kitchen tables, the volume steadily rising as the night wears on.
Late night venting as different personalities grinded on your last nerve.
Treasured traditions that never got old even as we did.
Little kids in abundance . . . crying, giggling, racing around the house, coloring on walls. And quiet moments when all were asleep, talking one-on-one late into the night with a treasured aunt you don’t see often.
Goodbyes that took an hour, with frantic waving out of the windows as cars pulled away.
Painful conflicts that involved countless phone calls and visits, repairing the damage and healing the wounds.
Weddings and funerals with laughter and tears in abundance.
And yet, I cannot imagine it any other way.
For I am who I am because of my family.
And I am not alone.
For tonight, this holiest of nights, we are reminded that Christ too was born into a family.
And trust me, his family line makes ours look tame by comparison.
Scan through the names and you will find adulterers and murderers, heroes and heroines, brave warriors, crafty politicians, and cowards. You will find simple laborers, wealthy nobles, and a handful of foreigners.
This was his family unit of birth.
A complicated set of individuals with their own unique stories, their strengths, their flaws, their pasts and their futures.
And in each of their own stories, Christ came to discover his own.
For he too became who he was called to be because of the family that he was a part of.
His family was not perfect. And neither are ours.
But Christ still chose to become incarnate. To become one with us.
A choice that continues to unfold within each generation.
The choice Christ continues to make to dwell among us, exactly as we are.
My friends, ultimately, this is the true miracle of Christmas.
That Christ chose to be born among us, forming out of all of our individual families, one family of faith. United not by blood or marriage, not by purity codes or legal statues. But united by faith.
Faith in the Son of God who came to make all things new.
And it is this family that we celebrate with each time we gather around this table.
And like our own flesh and blood family ties, being part of this family of faith is just as complicated. Just as beautiful. Just as messy. Just as chaotic. Just as blessed.
For in Christ, all find a place at the table.
Whether we particularly want them to or not.
Whether we understand them or not.
Whether we agree with them or not.
Male and Female and Transgender. Black and White. Gay and Straight. Undocumented and Native-Born. Homeless and Billionaire. Unemployed, Self-employed and Retired. The little child and the senior on Hospice care. Single. Married. Divorced. Remarried. Expecting and Childless.
All are our siblings. For they each make us who we are in Christ.
And so tonight, let us rejoice. In the Nativity of our Lord. In the family of faith that surrounds the tiny manager.
Truly, the greatest gifts we receive each year.
May God be Praised.