~Christmas Day Children’s Sermon

Gospel. Luke ii. 1-14. At that time: There went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the whole world should be enrolled. This enrolling was first made by Cyrinus the governor of Syria: And all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem: because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child. And it came to pass, that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger: because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night-watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them, and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people; for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will.
Noel
Who does not rejoice with a holy joy on this great feast, when we celebrate with the Church the appearance of the Son of the eternal Father, our most amiable Redeemer! Behold the expectation of ages has at last made His appearance among us! Come then, all ye Christian nations, to see the new-born Messias, and prostrate yourselves in adoration before Him. Adore Him with Mary, His Virgin Mother; with St. Joseph, His foster-father; with the angels who surround the manger, and sing “Glory to God in the highest.” O mystery of divine love, that a God should descend from heaven and become man for us! St. Francis of Assisi, while giving a discourse on this very subject, was so moved that he could not utter another word, and he and his audience wept floods of tears. My dear young people, I also feel moved on this subject, and would rather give a sermon in tears than in words, when I think that God so loves the world that His eternal Son became a mere infant for us. O what can I do to set your hearts on fire for Him? I confess I am not equal to the task; but with the aid of the Child Jesus, I will relate in a few words the history of His birth, and make some humble and loving comments on it. Who knows but that you will be touched by the great condescension of our good Lord, and may offer Him a few tears of gratitude!Let us go, my dear young friends, to Bethlehem, and ask the shepherds who were so privileged as to hear the first news of the birth of Christ from the angels, what they saw and heard. “Oh joy and gladness!” they will say. “We have seen the new-born King, we have seen the Child, the most beautiful of the world, wrapped in swaddling-clothes; we have heard His childish cries, and falling down in adoration we have kissed His sacred feet with the greatest veneration. O if you could see how beautiful He is! His rosy cheeks, His golden hair, the pearls of tears in His eyes: all more beautiful than an angel of paradise. Above the Child hover angels, His servants, praising Him, singing hymns of glory and announcing peace to men of good will. We have seen Him born and the choirs of angels praising God.” And where is that divine Infant to be found, in a house or in a palace? Oh, He is to be found in a poor stable; He is laid in a manger, wrapped in swaddling-clothes and exposed to the cold air! Two animals, an ox and an ass, keep Him warm with their breath and seem to recognize their Creator. A man with a radiant face, weeping tears of joy, and full of wonder, adores Him. A young mother, in ecstasy, is busied about the little Child’s necessities; she covers Him with what she has about her, to keep away the cold, she kisses His little feet as a recognition that He is her God, and then His face to show that He is her Son. The little Infant holds out His hands toward His Mother, and looks at her with a joyous smile.

Happy shepherds, what were the gifts that you brought to this divine Infant? In our poverty we had but little that we could give; we brought Him fruit, milk, cheese and a young white lamb. If you could have seen that dear Child, with a smile and a grateful look, receive these poor gifts; He appeared to thank us with His cries and to ask us to give Him our hearts with our other gifts. We could hardly tear ourselves away from that dear Child. This is what these poor, simple people would say. But you, my dear young people, what are your thoughts about that holy Child? This poor Child, who is only a few hours old, is the Son of the Most High. Before there was a heaven or an earth, He existed; the home of that Infant is heaven. Though you see Him wrapped in swaddling-clothes, His vesture is a mantle of purest light; though you see Him between two animals, His usual companions are the angels of heaven. This beautiful Child is God; these small members are the strong arms of a God. But if He be God, why is He in such poverty? He is born poor because He wants it so, and to gain our love and confidence. He might have come into the world in a palace, surrounded by servants; but He preferred a manger for His cradle and a little straw for His bed. He wished to begin His infancy in tears. “Oh, truly happy tears,” cries out St. Thomas of Villanova, ” which obtain for us the pardon of our sins; when we were all lost to God, this Child comes to save us.”

But what does this Child of infinite love ask of us in return? He asks gratitude, acknowledgment and love. The shepherds adored Him indeed, but the rest of mankind did not recognize Him. All the inhabitants of Bethlehem turned Him from their doors; “the foxes have holes and the birds of the air nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head.” The prophet says, “The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master’s crib, but Israel hath not known Me.” Even in our time many Christians do not give Him the honor which is His due; they heap insults on Him, blaspheme His sacred name, and live in enmity with Him, or do not believe in Him.

Yes, my dear good children, you understand now that the Child Jesus, in return for the great love He showed us, should have gained all hearts on this earth. How many sinners are there in the world and how many sins are committed by them still! Does this look as if Christ had conquered our hearts? Perhaps more sins than usual are committed on Christmas day. The feasts of the Church seem to give occasion for sin, such as going to places of amusement that are dangerous to morals. But let me beg of you, my dear young people, no longer to be ungrateful to the Child Jesus. See, this little Child God has already begun to suffer for you; He is doing the penance which you refused to do, and which you should not omit. Do you hear the cry of the Child? He is already making reparation for those wicked conversations in which you sometimes indulge. Go now to the manger in which Our Lord is placed, and take a good look at Him. See in what poverty He is placed all for you, and then give yourself up to God. Will you not give your heart, your affection to Him?

Love this little Jesus with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul; no longer give yourself to the devil; be sorry for the past, throw yourself at the feet of Jesus, and make an entire offering of yourself to Him, saying, “Here we are, dear Infant Jesus, at your feet, with our gifts in our hands, the gift of our hearts; but such miserable hearts, that the gift is unworthy of Thee. But, dear Infant, Thou art omnipotent; Thou canst, if we co-operate with Thy grace, make them pure, holy, and acceptable in Thy sight. Thou canst fill them with virtues and then they will be fit gifts for a God that is in search of souls. We volunteer to give our own souls first, and then we will go forth and gather many others. We now leave our hearts at Thy feet; do not despise them. Thou didst not despise the poor gifts of the shepherds; then take also this gift of our hearts, keep them and make their entrance into heaven sure.”

 
by Fr. Raphael Frassinetti, 1900

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