There is another verse from the Christmas story on which I should like to reflect with you - the angels' hymn of praise, which they sing out following the announcement of the new-born Saviour: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased." God is glorious. God is pure light, the radiance of truth and love. He is good. He is true goodness, goodness par excellence. The angels surrounding him begin by simply proclaiming the joy of seeing God's glory. Their song radiates the joy that fills them. In their words, it is as if we were hearing the sounds of heaven. There is no question of attempting to understand the meaning of it all, but simply the overflowing happiness of seeing the pure splendour of God's truth and love. We want to let this joy reach out and touch us: truth exists, pure goodness exists, pure light exists. God is good, and he is the supreme power above all powers. All this should simply make us joyful tonight, together with the angels and the shepherds.
Homily, Mass 2012
Reflection – Oh, this is truly a lovely homily! From the reflections on ‘no room’ at the inn, no room for God, no place for God in our lives and hearts, now we move to what it looks like when God is given room, given His full room, when God is worshipped.
It is joy, beauty, song, goodness. Too often we (and I most definitely include myself here) get a bit racked up with the suffering and sorrow aspect of life. We can easily place just a leetle too much emphasis on the reality of the cross, of death to self, of the struggle with God and with neighbor, the passion of love.
It’s understandable – all that is real, after all, and nothing quite grabs our attention like suffering. But we have to remember that these are not the ultimate realities. And the whole business of giving our lives over to God, of echoing Mary’s fiat, of giving Christ room to grow to full stature—this is not so we can live our lives nailed to a cross!
It is so we can live our lives in perfect joy and gladness. It is so that we can move steadily towards that day ‘when the whole world sends back the song, which now the angels sing.’
Heaven is all joy, all song, all light and love. It is so utterly crucial for us to get this: a life lived for God and God alone is a good life. It is a joyous life. It is a beautiful life. This is so utterly opposite to so much of our modern thinking. To many, the happy joyful life is the life immersed in sensual pleasures or wealth or the exercise of power. But none of that really delivers joy, not real joy, not for long.
Joy comes with love. Joy and peace are the fruit of love, and the only way to live a life of joy and peace is to live a life of love. And yes, in this world love means sacrifice and at least some suffering, but that’s not the point of the exercise.
God is good for us. To worship God is good for us—factually, it is our good. And the song of the angels, the beauty of the manger scene, the adoration of the shepherds and the magi all show us the beauty and goodness of this truth. As we move on from Christmas into the following weeks, let’s not fail to learn what all these mysteries are trying to teach us.