The Face of the Child
Christ’s Peace be with you always!
Let me share with you my Christmas Homily for the 4:00 pm Christmas Eve Mass in the Shrine:
Pope Francis offered the following thoughts on the last Sunday of Advent, “The Church is like Mary, we are also awaiting a birth. So like Mary, believers, with all their hearts, should say to Jesus: ‘Come, I want to see your face’.”
Tonight we celebrate that moment when the Face of the Child is revealed. Our Prayer has been answered. Christ is with us. At the end of Mass you can walk over to the Shrine of the Nativity and, with Mary, look at the Face of the Child.
Actually, you have been gazing on that Face for weeks as Christmas cards arrived at your door, as you did your own decorating in your homes. In every direction you encountered The Face of Jesus.
This evening in our Scripture readings we recall those who first encountered the Face of the Child. There were angels, shepherds, some say even a drummer boy and eventually the Magi. You need only to glance at the picture behind me to see those gathered along with the stable animals gazing at the Face of the Child.
If we all met at the front of the Church before the shrine of the Nativity and shared how we felt and what we saw as we looked into the crib, we might hear stories about the birth of your own children and what it was like to finally see The Face of your new born. I would think that it would be among the best moments in your life. If I asked you how often you glanced to see that newborn Face you would find it difficult to arrive at a number. Tonight in our celebration of Christmas we once again join Mary in looking again and again at that Face.
A question often asked at the birth of a child is who do they look like? Take a good look at the Face of this child and answer the question. The Face looks like all of ours. Jesus took on the human Face so in the here and now we might see God and be touched by God. Through his becoming one of us, we have seen the Face of God and experienced the embrace of God.
The image of the Christ child comes out just once a year but the Face of Christ is present to us every day of the year and that is one of the challenges of the Christmas mystery to reflect on the many, many Faces
that mirror the face of this child.
Where do we encounter glimpses of Christ’s Face every day? Certainly in the love and charity that is all around us. In history there are the stories of the great Saints who lived exemplary lives and bore witnesses in great ways to the presence of Christ in the world. Our own St. Vincent and other community Saints and Blesseds are among them. Many of us are blessed to have lived as contemporaries of Mother Theresa. A woman heralded by believer and non believer to have born the Face of Christ. A woman who reminds us that the Face of Christ is seen most clearly in the faces of the poor. The poor who need the embrace of Christ and with whom we share the Face of Christ. The poor shepherds were among the first to gaze upon his Face and their faces were among the first that he gazed upon.
Each of us here, as we gather to celebrate this Feast of Christmas, is called to be people who mirror the Face of Christ in our daily lives. Before we come to the front of the Church to glance into the crib, we should be able to turn to the person next to us and see the same face that we see in the crèche, the Face of Christ.
Tonight we celebrate because Christ is born and God is with us to show us his love and care and invite us to a life that lasts forever. Jesus coming was promised in the Old Testament and the promise is now fulfilled in a stable in Bethlehem. Our God came among us in the most unexpected of places and some few were granted the opportunity to share that moment and with Mary and Joseph gaze upon that Face.
May each of us be blessed to see that Face and to be that Face every day.
A Blessed Christmas to you!
Mike Carroll, CM