A Royal Baby is Coming!

Homily at St John Lloyd, for the Vigil Mass of Christmas, 2012

Clipart representing a newspaper

Read all about it! Read all about it! News! Good news! A Royal Baby is coming!

A few weeks ago, the newspapers were filled with baby-talk. Medical experts discussed different kinds of morning sickness. Fashion editors mulled over maternity-wear. Royal correspondents speculated on the kind of reign this future King, or Queen, might expect. Much of British society was excited watching and waiting, and supportive citizens have already sent cards and romper-suits to Buckingham Palace!

The Duchess of Cambridge’s baby matters because it will be a royal baby, and represents hope for the future. It may be many years before this child comes to the throne; I am now 39, and perhaps this child won’t become King, or Queen, until I am dead and buried. But we fully expect that this child will, in the fullness of time, take up their destined role. This child brings us stability. This child brings us hope. This royal child roots us to the future!

We’ve gathered in this church tonight to celebrate the birth of another royal baby. Tomorrow is the official birthday of Jesus Christ, King of the line of David, and Son of God. It was a coming glimpsed by the Prophet Isaiah in ancient Israel. If they’d had newspapers in Isaiah’s day, the headlines after he wrote his prophecy would have said:

Scroll and Bible

Read all about it! Read all about it! News! Good news! A Royal Baby is coming!

At Christmas, we celebrate this gift of new life. Baby Jesus matters because he is not only a King, but God among us. We proclaim his status by singing carols like Once in Royal David’s City. And he is not only our King but our Saviour, our Rescuer, our Redeemer.

In some parts of Britain this week, floods have trapped ordinary people who have needed to be rescued by boat. But many are trapped by a different kind of flood, a flood of insecurity, a sense that we don’t have complete control over nature, the knowledge that we are limited and our life on earth is finite. Some of us may be struggling with guilt over some foolish action. Many of us may be burdened by a sense of shame, that we are not as good as we ought to be – an ought imposed on us by a parent, or teacher, or society at large.

The angel spoke to Joseph: “You must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people.” The very name Jesus means God-who-saves us. And this is what the Christ-child came to do – Jesus comes among us with a mission to proclaim God’s good will to all mankind. He came to tell us that whatever wrong we may have committed, God is willing to forgive us and offer us a new beginning. He came to tell all who feel deep guilt that God does not hold us responsible – the punishment for our sins would be lovingly borne by none-other than the Christ-child himself. He came to show those of us who doubt ourselves that we are loved, and loved by God. He points us to a Heaven beyond this earthly life which never ends, and where he has gone before us. He is truly our Saviour, our Rescuer, our Redeemer, and he loves us!

Bible, black with gold words

Read all about it! Read all about it! News! Good news! A Royal Baby is coming!

We in the Catholic Church have a communication problem. Half of our message gets through clearly – we’re well known for being a church with clear DOs and DON’Ts. But the other half of our message is a well-kept secret: we are a church for people who don’t always get things right. We call Jesus the Prince of Peace, because he has the power to heal the mind, and to restore the body, too, for those humble enough to seek God’s help.

For a brief and beautiful moment, the media saw the beauty of a 12-week-old child in the womb for what it is; a human life. No newspaper reported that the Duchess was carrying a royal foetus, or a pre-human embryo. Because the child was a wanted child, because it represented the hope of a nation, there was no hesitation in calling it a child and pondering its royal status. Not all children receive such recognition.

Perhaps there’s someone here tonight who, in a moment of darkness, has hurt another human being – a friend, a parent, or an unborn child – and doesn’t know how to find peace. If that’s you, then know that the Prince of Peace wishes to offer you healing, through the Church. There are paths to peace of mind through prayer and counselling. If you ask for help, the Church will not condemn you, but will help you to find the peace which only Christ can bring.

This is news worth shouting about. This is truly Good News. It’s better than a royal baby, better than Britain’s performance in the 2012 Olympics. The great news is that whoever we are, whatever we have done before tonight, God WANTS US! Yes, us, warts and all. Sins and all. Each and every one of us is invited to be a member of the Royal Court – to be a follower of Jesus.

Not to follow Jesus on Twitter – though you can find Pope Benedict there as @pontifex.

Not to follow Jesus on Facebook – though this parish launches there soon.

But to follow Jesus to the altar, where he commanded us to “do this in memory of me”. At Christmas, at Easter, Sunday by Sunday, here in St John Lloyd Church, we do what Jesus asked us to do, we explore his words and message, and we are nourished by his Body and Blood. This church, and every church, is the Royal Court of the Saviour.

You have come here this night to celebrate the birth of a royal child. The stable door is open, the light is on, but you can only experience the full peace and healing which the Christ-child offers if you remain with him to be filled with that light. He is the humble child in the manger, the one who will be your King on the last day of your life. Will you choose to be his companion?