Forty years ago, in his Christmas homily, Archbishop Oscar Romero reminded the people of El Salvador that with the birth of Christ, God’s reign is inaugurated in human time. He told them:
On this night, as we Christians have done every year for twenty centuries, we recall that God’s reign is now in this world and that Christ has inaugurated the fullness of time. Christ’s birth attests that God is now journeying with us in history, that we do not go alone, and that we can hope and work for peace, for justice, for the reign of divine law, for something holy, because the builder of a reign of justice, of love, and of peace is already in the midst of us. (Christmas Homily, December 25, 1977)
Romero’s homily, written in a time of great personal and social darkness, is an important reminder of where our joy this evening comes from: God has entered human history in order to join us on the journey of life, on a new path that slowly leads toward an enduring peace.
Ever since he became pope, Francis has been encouraging us to “go forth” in faith. We go forth in imitation of many who have gone before: we imitate the simple faith of shepherds seeking the child Jesus, we imitate the spontaneous generosity of the three kings. We imitate the quiet courage of Mary and Joseph who went forth in faith despite the forces that threatened the safety and well-being of the child Jesus. We go forth, to be, as the angels proclaim, ambassadors of God’s peace—to make peace real for the hungry and homeless, for migrants and those seeking safety, for all who have been deprived of their dignity or hope. We go forth, knowing that we do not walk alone. We walk with the One whose love gives life and guides our steps as we share the journey toward a more humane way of life, toward a way of being that mirrors God’s own generous self-sharing that we know in the birth of Jesus.