The following bilingual homily was delivered by Bishop Jaime Soto at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in downtown Sacramento on the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (at the Mass during the Night):
Acercándonos al pesebre, nos ofrece la dicha oportunidad de contemplar la manifestación de la gracia De Dios. Antes de caer en un romanticismo navideño, reconozcamos la pobreza y humildad con que Cristo aceptó la naturaleza humana. Así, el Señor Jesús no solo hizo su morada entre nosotros. El Señor comenzó a configurar nuestra humanidad a la imagen de su divinidad. Fue precisamente por la humildad que el hijo de María se nos presentó como hijo de Dios.
Las tribulaciones de la pandemia nos han aleccionado severamente. Las arrogancias y vanidades de una humanidad convencida de su propia capacidad de controlar el curso del mundo sin ninguna necesidad de Dios han sido aplastadas por un virus inescrutable. El COVID-19 a infiltrado a muchas de nuestras familias, ha terminado muchos empleos, ha inundado a muchos hospitales, y ha matado a una multitud de hombres y mujeres.
Arrodillémonos frente al Nacimiento Navideño, para mejor unirnos a la humildad del Señor Jesús y la sagrada familia. La humildad de Cristo nos enseñará la sensatez y la paciencia necesarias con que nos cuidemos mejor y respetémonos unos a otros como Cristo nos ha amado y nos ha servido siéndose humano como nosotros.
La humanidad de Jesús nos ha enseñado el mejor camino para una humanidad fatigada por las mentiras ilusorias del mundo. Adorando a Cristo y caminando con Cristo alcanzaremos una nueva humanidad iluminada y purificada por la divina misericordia.
Mary gave birth to the Lord Jesus under circumstances beyond the control of her or Joseph. Required by a Roman decree, they left their home in Nazareth and went to Bethlehem. There they found no room in the inn so Mary, upon giving birth to Christ, laid him in a manger, a feeding trough for animals. Their closest neighbors were shepherds in the fields outside of town keeping the night watch over their flocks. None of this was planned or anticipated. All of it was as God intended. Mary and Joseph humbly trusted that the divine mercy by which they had been chosen would provide for them.
In choosing to assume our human nature, Jesus embraced it completely from the moment he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Even in those most vulnerable and impoverished circumstances, the Lord Jesus revealed his divine nature by fulfilling all that the Father asked of him, his mother Mary, and Joseph. As the prophet Isaiah had prophesized, “Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.” It was a divine light shining through the humble, fragile humanity of Jesus.
St. Paul told his companion Titus in the second reading this evening, that the grace of God revealed in the humanity of Jesus saves us and trains us to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age. Jesus, the Son of God from all eternity, still saves us and teaches us as the Son of Mary. The more we imitate the humanity of Jesus, all the more will we come to share in his divinity.
The arrogance and vanity of human ambitions has been smashed by a persistent, prowling pandemic. So much upon which we have come to rely or expect has been disrupted and overwhelmed by the viral contagion that has creeped into many families, crippled hospitals, closed numerous businesses and killed many lives. The frustrations, resentments, and denials of human pride collapse under the weight of suffering and sorrow sown by the resistant germ.
So, we come kneeling before the Nativity of our Savior, Jesus Christ, to find a new humanity, a new way to be as God created us. In his image and likeness he created us. In the humanity of Jesus, we find again the likeness to which we were called and with which we were created, a humanity crafted from humility, patience, mercy and prayer.
As Paul told us, Jesus is the image of the unseen God, the firstborn of creation. This Christmas may the Lord Jesus redeem us by recreating us in his image. May his holy mother Mary wrap us in the mercy of God and cloth us in heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Col. 3.12) May Joseph watch over us and all the Church. May his strong silence still the restlessness in our own hearts so to hear God’s wisdom guiding us through the gloomy uncertainty and drawing us to the light of Christ.
The vulnerabilities we feel, the restrictions we face, and the many hardships we endure reveal the feebleness of the human condition. More than ever before, we recognize our common humanity and the weaknesses we all share. This commemoration of the Nativity of the Lord Jesus teaches us not to fear our human frailty. In the lowliness of Christ’s birth is found the godliness of charity, the goodness of considering others first, and the gracefulness of patience.
To the shepherds in the field huddle together on a cold night, the angel boldly declared, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy.” Jesus comes to us now, the glory of his divinity revealed by his humble humanity. Inspired by radiant beams of divine mercy found in the face of Jesus may we reverence our Lord in the company of Mary and Joseph accepting with humility, patience and joy our common tasks of caring for one another, protecting each other, and leading one another to Christ.