Fr. Jolly’s Homily for Christmas, December 25, 2019

Christmas 2019

Sometimes just waving at someone with a smiling face, speaking a kind word of encouragement and doing a simple gesture of kindness can really brighten someone’s’ life! And, in fact that can be good news of great joy in their lives influencing them forever. I am recipient of good news of great joy by so many loving angels in my life. Today I like to share one of those occasions! 2004 September 26th was a difficult day in my life. That day I was flying to the United States for the 1st time. It was my 1st time airplane journey ever. Never traveled outside of my country before. My coming to the United States was totally unexpected and sudden. I was filling in for someone else. I was carrying two small suitcases and $ 200. I didn’t know a single soul here! I was assigned at OLPH Germantown. I had to sit at the pew with the congregation to watch and learn how to celebrate Mass in Latin rite; because I belong to an Eastern rite. Our celebration of mass is totally different! I did not speak much English! I didn’t have a car and I don’t drive in this country. I was feeling like a fish out of the water; lonely, sad and frightened! One Sunday as I was standing at the narthex, Less and Eve understood my predicament and came to me and said. “Could we pick you up after the mass”? My eyes lit up. They took me to an Indian restaurant and then onwards took me under their wing. They invited me to their house; explained to me many things in the new country. Took me around and showed me many things including a worship service at Al Greens’ Pentecostal church and even sky diving down the road! Whenever I was down and sad they always reminded me that I am appreciated and I can overcome all the obstacles! They were messengers sent from God to proclaim and good news to me to help me in my journey and here I am today!

Today we celebrate the Incarnation God in the person of Jesus, the Good News of great joy! God undertook the Incarnation of Jesus as True God and true man to save us from the bondage of sin. The Hindu religion believe in ten incarnations of God. The purpose of these incarnations is stated in their Holy Scripture, Bagavath Geetha or Song of God. “God incarnates to restore righteousness in the world whenever there is a large-scale erosion of moral values.” (“Dharma samstaphanarthe sambhavami yuge yuge.”). But the Bible proclaims only one Incarnation, and its purpose is given in John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He sent His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.” The Incarnation of Jesus is the greatest Good News because we have a Divine Savior. As our Savior, Jesus liberated us from slavery to sin and atoned for our sins by his suffering, death and Resurrection. So, every Christmas reminds us that we need a Savior every day, to free us from our evil addictions and unjust, impure and uncharitable tendencies. Christmas 2019 also challenges us to accept Jesus in the manger as our saving God and personal Savior and to surrender our lives to him, allowing him to rule our hearts and lives every day in the New Year.

What happened 200 years ago, when Jesus was born? Bible says the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and shepherds were struck with great fear. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Why God is choosing shepherds to share the good news? Back in the days being a shepherd means being alienated from family and friends. 24/7, they are on the go facing all the harsh weather situation. They are never able to attend any social events. They could have been sad, lonely and alienated! It was to them God sent angels to proclaim good news of great joy. They were in need of a savior and they were in need of good news!

But there was a problem when Jesus came and good news was proclaimed! The gospel of John chapter 3 says ‘this is the verdict that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God’. It is said that today more than 90% news is negative? Why is it that? There is nothing to report that is positive in the world? Are there any more good people left in the world or what? Everything about our country is wrong! All politicians are wrong! The church is wrong! Almost every minister in the church is bad! All the families are bad! All parents are doing a very poor job etc. etc. Is that the truth? Or is it that negative sells more than positive? The reason being of course the media, but not only the media! Try and look at the lyrics of songs, look at the movies currently in theatre. People are so focused on the negative today. Human beings are creatures of habits. According to a research, the average human being has around 70 000 thoughts per day, 80% of our thoughts are negative because of the media and 90% of those thoughts go to the next day. Therefore we live in an increasingly negative culture and it’s easy to be dragged down with all the discouraging and depressing events that flood our hearts and overwhelm our minds.

I believe today as we receive the good news of great joy, once again we as Christians have a huge opportunity to be counter-cultural missionaries in this dark days by demonstrating the positive power of the Gospel in our lives. But how is this possible? How do we maintain a positive life and witness in the face of so much negativity? Let me suggest 5 keys to help you overcome negativity in our families, and in our ministries:

  1. Attitude of gratitude

An attitude of gratitude will help you do everything in life far better than a critical, judgmental, and negative attitude. The Bible commands us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” A negative attitude is like a flat tire. You can’t go anywhere without changing it.

  1. Quiet time with God

When we spend time with the Lord, we are listening to Him who is always communicating positive message and slowly we become what we hear! Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. When we listen to God, we are not listening to Satan!

  1. Read your Bible

The Gospel of John Jesus prays for the disciples saying John 17:17 “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” Tiered of fake news; read the bible!

  1. Focus on your purpose

Our purpose in this life is going to heaven and taking as many as possible with us. When you stay focused on your purpose, not your problem you can be happy even when life seems to be falling apart.

  1. Keep a smile on your face

Proverbs 15:13 Promises us that “A glad heart makes a cheerful face.” Mathew 5 reminds us ‘let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and praise the father in Heaven’.

One of our tradition for Christmas is decorating a tree that is triangular in shape it represents the trinity — and from there came the idea that the tree should be a symbol of Christ and new life,” Let’s have the following Christmas resolutions! That will help us to share God’s life and spread the good news!

We need angels today! Angel simply means “messenger.” Spread the good news; not the gloom! Be an Angel- be a messenger to good news!