Homily for Christmas (Children’s Mass – 7pm)
As I was preparing for Christmas Eve Mass I came across this poem written by a woman named Sarah Hale. The poem is called “Mary had a little Lamb”. This poem is probably one of the best known and best loved children’s poems. When I was a child I had to memorize this poem. Many of us remember it. It goes like this:
Mary had a little lamb; its fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.
Today we celebrate the birthday of the baby Jesus. In the Gospel today we hear about the birth of Jesus. Often we call Jesus the “Lamb of God” and since Jesus is the Son of God and the son of Mary I thought I would take parts of this poem and turn it into a kind of Christmas carol.
Now this short version may never be as popular as the original poem but it might help us to remember the true meaning of Christmas. (to be sung)
Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb.
Mary had a little lamb, He was born on Christmas Day.
She laid Him in a manger bed, manger bed, manger bed.
She laid Him in a manger bed, to sleep upon the hay.
Angels filled the night time sky, night time sky, night time sky
Angels filled the night time sky, and they began to sing.
He came to give us joy and peace, joy and peace, joy and peace.
He came to give us joy and peace and take away our sin.
Why do I love this precious Lamb, precious Lamb, precious Lamb,
Why do I love this precious Lamb, because He first loved me.
Now we shouldn’t have to use songs like this and other gimmicks to remember the real meaning of Christmas but you know what? It seems that each Christmas we have a hard time remembering whose birthday it is and what it is that we are celebrating.
It seems that the whole world starts to prepare for Christmas many weeks ahead of the big day. We listen to the ads on TV and on the radio telling us how many days are left in this Holiday Season and we should buy this or that present for someone else. Many times it is simply called a holiday and the word Christmas is hardly ever used.
Now many of us have heard the story of how the Christmas Candy Cane came to be. The stories may not necessarily be true but they do serve to teach the children about the Christ Child and can also remind each of us about the true meaning of Christmas.
The Christmas Candy cane. (show them the large candy cane) At Christmas time, everywhere we look we see them. They are used as decorations on Christmas trees not only because they look so good but they are also very popular Christmas treat, because they also taste so good.
First of all, if you look at a candy cane you can see that it looks like the letter J. Whose name starts with the letter J? Jesus’ name starts with the letter J. Every time we look at a candy cane it should remind us about the Holy Name of Jesus.
If you look at the candy cane when it looks like this (upside down J) then you can see that it looks like a shepherd’s crook. The shepherd used his crook to keep the sheep from wandering away from the flock and getting lost or eaten by wild animals. The Bible says that Jesus is my Lord. The Bible also says that the Lord is my Shepherd.
This candy cane should remind us that Jesus is my Lord. Jesus is my Shepherd. He will keep me from wandering away from the truth by the truth of His Word.
You notice also that the candy cane is mostly white. White is the colour of purity. Mary is the pure virgin who became the Mother of Jesus. Mary became the Mother of God.
White should also remind us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God – and when Jesus takes away our sin – our souls also become as white as snow.
The candy cane also has red stripes on it. Red is the colour of blood. The bible also tells us that before He was crucified for our sins, Jesus was beaten with a whip that left blood red stripes on His body. The bible says we are healed by those stripes. The red stripes on the candy cane should remind us that because of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross and His resurrection we might have eternal life with Him in heaven.
Some candy canes have also a green stripe on them. Green is the symbol of life. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life”. This green stripe should remind us of Jesus who is also called the “Bread of Life” who has come to earth as a baby to lead all of us to everlasting life.
To many people, the candy cane is just another holiday decoration or a piece of candy to be eaten and enjoyed. But to all Christians the candy cane should forever be a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is all about celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, our Lord and Saviour who invites you to celebrate His birthday. We do this first of all by attending Mass and praying for our family and friends. We also celebrate by putting up and decorating Christmas trees and by giving and receiving presents - We do this because each one of us is a child of God - and we want to celebrate Jesus’ birthday by enjoying each others company, enjoying good food and treats with our family and friends. It really is a birthday party so we should celebrate it and enjoy it. We just need to remember whose birthday it is that we are celebrating.
Dear Lord, we thank you that Jesus is the good shepherd, the Lamb of God who came to save us from our sins. We thank you that because of His suffering, death and resurrection we too will have life everlasting. Help us to remember this each time we see a candy cane this Christmas as we celebrate the birth of Your Son – help us to have fun with our family and friends but also help us to not forget the true meaning of Christmas - Jesus’ birthday.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Deacon Bernie Ouellette