The ancient Greeks had two different ideas of time: chronos and kairos.
Chronos is time the way that we think of it - minute after minute, moving forward. Chronos is "how many minutes until I'm done with work for the day?" or "there is only one more day until Christmas" or "I am 34 years old."
Kairos, on the other hand is about God's time. The word kairos literally means "opportunity," and it describes the way that God acts in our world. An example of kairos would be a person saying, "I met my spouse at just the right time in my life."
One of the best kairos moments for us should be when we come to celebrate the Mass: we step out of the normal flow of our lives and enter into this little pocket of eternity.
That's why you don't see a clock up here in the sanctuary. It's why I personally don't like celebrating Mass with a watch on - coming to Mass isn't the same thing as putting in 8 hours at work or doing a 30 minute workout. When we are in the liturgy, in a real way, we step out of time. We stand in eternity with God as He comes to us. We enter into kairos time and we shouldn't allow our ordinary way of thinking to take away from that.
It's so easy, because of the pace of our lives, to become blinded to kairos - to the way God shows Himself, the way kairos breaks into chronos. That's a normal struggle that all of us will face - but tonight/today is an opportunity to step away, to stand in a moment of eternity and see what God has for us in this opportune time; because today we celebrate when God came to us.
What we celebrate at Christmas, what we commemorate with lights and carols and Nativity scenes, is eternity breaking into time. We remember that, one night, two thousand years ago, God was born as one of us.
That's an astounding thing to say. In every other religion from ancient times until now, gods may have interacted with humanity or spoken to humanity but only Christians proclaim that God has taken on our humanity.
The One who created the universe is with us - as a helpless baby, born in poverty and homelessness.
The One who chose, out of love, to create creatures like Himself now makes Himself vulnerable to them, dependent on them, and lives with them.
As we can read at the beginning of the Gospel of John, "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
We can never sing enough songs to celebrate this. We can never put enough enough lights to point out this truth.
God has given Himself to us. That is the real gift of Christmas.
So, how do we respond? What do we offer back to such a gift?
If God has chosen to pour Himself out for us, then we can do the same.
Jesus came into the mess of our world - let's invite Him into the lives, even when they are messy.
I encourage you to find a moment tonight/today - just a few minutes - when you can sit quietly. Put your phone on "do not disturb," shut off your tv, and open up your heart and mind to the God who loves you.
He came into this world for you - and still offers Himself. At this very Mass, He becomes present in a tangible way in the Eucharist because He wants you.
Don't take that gift for granted. Don't let it disappear into the busyness of every passing moment. Choose it. Accept it. Say yes to Him.
The God behind everything, the one who is, who was, and who is to come - He is the one who gives Himself to you tonight/today. He came long ago as a child and He still comes with that endless, vulnerable love. This Christmas, let us once more turn our hearts to His and love Him back.