The angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” God’s favor, his grace has entered humanity in a new way. It was promised that a savior would come, and when he did, what was it that he brought more so than anything to save us? It was grace. God’s favor is his grace; grace to know God, and grace to love God. Grace is what the Son brought through his first coming. Forgiveness… yes. Rebirth… yes. Forgiven and reborn so that an endless, living supply of grace could dwell in our hearts. Every Christmas we celebrate the human birth of living grace, the Son of God, into our world.
[*This homily is for the readings of midnight Mass available here.]
The first reading exclaims, “The Lord of hosts will do this… upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.” For those who had forgotten what true love was, the Son was born and became that light for us. From his conception to his death, what divine love is in human nature has been shown to us through Jesus.
Through Christ we have received the grace of knowing how to live, but we also need the grace of choosing it for ourselves. The second reading says that through his grace we now have an “eagerness to do what is good.” When humanity fell, we lost both our knowledge of the good, but also our inclination to choose it. With God becoming man, we again have the potential to live in the likeness of God who is love. The Son of God has returned to us not only the light to know, but the eagerness to love.
So when we wait for Jesus’ second coming, what are we waiting for? God’s glory. He has brought to humanity his grace. But at his second coming, he will bring to humanity his glory. We hear in St. Paul’s letter to Titus, “the grace of God has appeared, saving all, as we await the glory of our great God.” The angels themselves hint, “Glory to God in the highest, … and favor / grace to all on earth.” Through the birth of the Son, we have received this favor, this grace, and at his second coming we will receive his glory.
God gave us Mary, a human being to show us how to respond to God’s grace. She welcomed the Son into her womb. Through her yes, grace entered not only her but all of humanity. For God’s grace to be in us and to be shared with others, we must give our own consent. We must allow him to make our flesh his own; to allow living grace to dwell in us, and to be birthed into the world. Mary is our model, she welcomed this grace, and she has already received the fullness of God’s glory in heaven, her assumption.
The ancient people awaited the gift of his grace, to be able to know again with their consciences, to be able to love again with their wills. Through the Son becoming man, humanity became open to the divine light and the divine eagerness of God for goodness. He became small, adorable, unintimidating so that we might welcome him into our hearts, our lives, and our homes. Let us allow God’s grace to enter us and continually be born into the world, so that we may one day share in his glory. Let us thank God for the long awaited gift of his living grace. To humanity, first has come God’s grace, then will come his glory.