Mass in the company of heaven, anonymous engraving

Fr Neil’s homily for the Second Sunday after Christmas, 2 January 2022

He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.¹

The wisdom of God speaks in the midst of the assembly to make known the praise and glory of God. It unfolds the mystery of the gospel of God that calls all creation to fulfil its vocation by reaching the fullness of life in obedience to His will.

Creation was called into being when the Word spoke, “let there be…”² That very Word through whom all things have their being becomes flesh.³ The creator enters into the very thing he brings into being, to enable creation to reach its final destiny.

This extra-ordinary act of God is a mystery beyond our comprehension.⁴ Yet he illuminates the minds of humanity as the Light of the world. With the Fall, humanity has fallen into darkness, lost its way and is bound and blinded by sin and death.

Yet as Isaiah promised; “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.”⁵

This light the darkness has not and cannot overcome.⁶ It reveals the mystery to which we are called and illuminates the way of the blessed. This way of wisdom is more than just knowledge, but it reveals a movement of the heart and soul to a place of adoration and surrender to the majesty of our Creator in an act of thanksgiving. That act of thanksgiving should be at its most clearest and profound in the celebration of the mass. The mystery of his divine love and mercy is overwhelming as he enters our world so that we might take our place in his new creation.

It reveals that we, and all creation, were in the mind of God even before we came into existence.⁷ It tells us that he has an intimate interest in our present state of life each and every day. He makes known his desire for our healing and wholeness, the desire that our final destiny might be in heavenly glory with Our Lady and all the saints — his body, the Church glorified.

Christ’s incarnation sees the redemption of matter and unveils the mystery that what we do in the body has eternal significance. Heaven and earth are brought together and a unity between the spiritual and physical reveals something of the nature of the end times.

We engage with the spiritual most profoundly in prayer. The life of prayer is not left until we have shuffled off this mortal coil, although we do have the consolation of Our Lady and all the saints interceding for us. Prayer must be integrated into the fabric of our being and be a natural aspect of living out our life here on earth. How Christ himself prayed shows the necessity of prayer in living out a life here on earth which seeks to fulfil the will of the Heavenly Father.

Prayer has a several core elements: adoration, praise and thanksgiving are central; then the acknowledgment of our struggle with sin, seeking God’s grace and healing. Finally there is petitionary prayer that first desires the coming of the kingdom and then asks for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming.

This is to unite oneself in the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit manifested in his body the Church. Via prayer, the vocation of every baptised Christian is to see the full manifestation of the Kingdom of God on earth. We are pre­destined to reproduce the image of God’s Son made flesh⁸, who is the image of the invisible God and Father of us all.⁹

How then in my life of discipleship am I, via God’s grace, to make real the sacred? What stands in the way? What do I need freeing from to make incarnate the ways of holiness and salvation more clearly in my life? How might my life become an icon of God to a world gripped by a culture of death that is in desperate need of a way to wisdom and light?

We need to wrestle with these questions daily but a good starting point is to trust that “he destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”¹

¹ Ephesians 1:5–6
² Genesis 1
³ John 1:14
⁴ Cf 1 Timothy 3:16
⁵ Isaiah 9:2
⁶ John 1:5
⁷ Cf Psalm 139(138):15–16
⁸ Cf Genesis 1:27
⁹ Colossians 1:15–16