Merry Christmas! On behalf of myself, Fr. Horkan and Fr. Rippy, I want to wish you all a blessed,
holy, joyful and merry Christmas. May Baby Jesus, His Blessed Mother Mary, and St. Joseph, keep
you in their care this Holy Day and throughout the Season. May it be filled with joy in the love of the
Lord Jesus and the happiness of the love of your family and friends. May the Peace of the Infant
reign in your hearts and homes.
Thanks. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to give us a beautiful Advent and Christmas. In
particular: the choir, the cantors, the musicians, the American Heritage Girls, the Trail Life boys, the
Knights of Columbus, our sacristans, the flower/decorating committee, the ushers, the Giving Tree
donors and volunteers, the altar boys, the lectors, and the extraordinary ministers of Holy
Communion. A few specific names I need to mention: Sheri Burns, Patrick O’Brien, Julie Mullen,
Marty and Nena Brennan, Phil Bettwy, Patty Pacheco, Barbara Aldridge and Christine Spengler. A
particular thanks to our parish staff: Elisabeth Turco, Joseph Mernagh (new organist), Jeanne
Sause, Joe Marquart, Maerose Naduvilekunnel, Mary Butler, Mary Salmon, Mary Hansen and
Virginia Osella; and to our custodial workers Luis Tapia and Dania Ochoa. And to my brother priests,
Fr. Horkan, Fr. Rippy, and Msgr. Dempsey. I’m sorry, I know I’m leaving out a lot of folks from
this list. Thank you and God bless you all.
Homily of Pope St. John Paul II, Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve
Sunday, 24 December 1978 (the first of his pontificate)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
- We are in Saint Peter’s Basilica at this unusual hour. Around us is the architecture in
which whole generations have for centuries expressed their faith in God Incarnate…: All our
surroundings speak with the voice of the two millennia that separate us from the birth of Christ. …In
these circumstances, in this context of time and place, let me go with you to the cave near the little
town of Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. Let us all be there rather than here—there where “in the
silence of the night” was heard the wail of the newborn infant, that eternal expression of the children
of the earth. At the same moment was heard the voice of Heaven, that “world” of God dwelling in the
inaccessible tabernacle of Glory. The majesty of the eternal God and mother earth making herself
known by the wail of the newborn Infant enable us to glimpse the prospect of a new Peace,
Reconciliation, and Covenant: “To us is born the Savior of the world,” “all the ends of the earth have
seen the salvation of our God.”
- Nevertheless at this moment, at this strange hour, the ends of the earth are still afar off.
They are pervaded by a period of waiting, far from peace. The hearts of people are filled rather with
weariness; people have fallen asleep, as have the shepherds in the Bethlehem valleys close by.
What is happening in the stable, in the rock cave, has a dimension of profound intimacy: it is
something between the Mother and the Babe to be born. No outside person has access. Even
Joseph, the Nazareth carpenter, is but a silent witness. She alone is fully aware of her Motherhood.
She alone perceives the special expression of the infant’s wailing. The birth of Christ is pre-
eminently her mystery, her great day. It is the feast of the Mother.
It is a strange feast: there is no trace of the synagogue liturgy, no reading of the prophets or
singing of the psalms. “Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body has thou prepared
for me” (Heb 10:5) seems to be what is said by the wailing of the one who, although he is the Eternal
Son, the Word who is of one being with the Father, “God from God, Light from Light,” has become
flesh (Jn 1: 14). He reveals himself in that body as one of us, a little infant, in all his frailty and
vulnerability. Dependent upon people’s care, entrusted to their love, undefended. He wails, and the
world does not hear him, cannot hear him. The newborn infant’s wail can only just be heard a few
- And so, Brothers and Sisters crowding this Basilica, I beg you: let us try to be more
present there than here. … The liturgy of Christmas Night is rich with a special realism: the realism
of the moment that we are renewing, and also the realism of the hearts that are reliving that moment.
All of us in fact are deeply moved, although what we are celebrating happened some two thousand
In order to have a complete picture of the reality of that event, in order to penetrate more
deeply still into the realism of that moment and the realism of human hearts, let us remember that
the event occurred precisely in the way it did: in abandonment and extreme poverty, in the cave
stable outside the town, because people in the town refused to receive the Mother and Joseph into
any of their homes. Nowhere was there room. From the beginning, the world showed itself
inhospitable towards the God who was to be born as Man.
- Now let us reflect briefly on the lasting meaning of this lack of hospitality on man’s part
towards God. All of us here wish it were different. We wish that everything within us men should be
open to God born as a man. It is with this desire that we have come here!
On this night let us therefore think of all the human beings that fall victim to man’s
inhumanity, to cruelty, to the lack of any respect, to contempt for the objective rights of every human
being. Let us think of those who are lonely, old, or sick; of the homeless, those suffering from
hunger, and those whose misery is the result of the exploitation and injustice of economic systems.
Let us also think of those who on this night are not allowed to take part in the liturgy of God’s Birth
and who have no priest to celebrate Mass. And let us give a thought also to those whose souls and
consciences are tormented no less than their faith.
The stable at Bethlehem is the first place for solidarity with man: for one man’s solidarity with
another and for all men’s with all men, especially with those for whom there is “no room at the inn”
(cf. Lk 2:7), whose personal rights are refused recognition.
- The newborn Infant is wailing. Who hears the baby’s wail? But Heaven speaks for him,
and it is Heaven that explains it with these words: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to
men who enjoy his favor” (Lk 2:14). Touched by the fact of the birth of Jesus, we must hear this cry
from Heaven. That cry must reach all the ends of the earth, all men must hear it anew.
A Son is given to us. Christ is born to us. Amen.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles