Too Good to Be False
The following is an excerpt of a homily delivered by the late Fr. Horacio de la Costa, SJ, at the old Ateneo de Manila College of Law chapel in the mid-1950s. This version was published in the March 1980 issue of The Philippine Jesuit.
De la Costa served as Associate Editor of The GUIDON in 1931, and then as one of its Editors-in-Chief from 1931 to 1935.
As we mark another Christmas season amidst troubled times, de la Costa’s homily invites us to remain steadfast in our hope.
Glory to God in high heaven, and peace to earth to men that are God’s friends. (Luke 2:14)
Christmas is when we celebrate the unexpected; it is the festival of surprise.
This is the night when shepherds wake to the song of angels; when the earth has a star for a satellite; when wise men go on a fool’s errand, bringing gifts to a Prince they have not seen in a country they do not know.
Night of all nights
This is the night when one small donkey bears on his back the weight of the world’s desire, and an ox plays host to the Lord of heaven. This is the night when we are told to seek our King not in a palace but a stable; and although we have stood here, year after year, as our fathers before us, the wonder has not faded not will it ever fade; the wonder of that moment when we push open the little door, and enter, and entering find in the arms of a Mother who is a Virgin a Baby who is God.
The homeless God
Chesterton has said it all for us; the only way to view Christmas properly is to stand on one’s head. Was there ever a house more topsy-turvy than the House of Christmas, the Cave where Christ was born? For here, suddenly, in the very heart of earth, is heaven; down is up and up is down; the angels and the stars look down on the God who made them and God looks up at the things he made. There is no room in an inn for him who made room, and to spare, for the Milky Way; and where God is homeless, all men are at home.
Gift we don’t expect
We were promised a Savior, but we never dreamed that God himself would come to save us. We knew that he loved us, but we never dared to think that he loved us so much as to become like us. But that is the way God gives. We can only dream of things too good to be true; God has the habit of giving things too good to be false.
What we need
That is why our Catholic faith is a faith in the unexpected, a religion of surprise. Now more than ever, living in time so troubled, facing a future so uncertain, we need such faith. We need it for ourselves and we need it to give to others. We must remind the world that if Christmas comes in the depth of winter, it is that there may be an Easter in the spring.