Birmingham: Midnight Mass homily by Archbishop Nichols

 Christmas Midnight Mass was broadcast by BBC Radio 4 live from St Chad;s Cathedral, situated in the centre of Birmingham. During his homily, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham said: "With solemnity and joy, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. His birth brings into our world, in a new and definite manner, the eternal love of God, a love for all people, a love without end. "In the simplicity and poverty of his birth in Bethlehem we behold the glory proclaimed by angels and seen by shepherds and wise men. "Yet already the scene is tinged with sadness. We know what lies ahead for the Son of God made man. How often have painters of the nativity scene included in it the symbol of the cross? "Certainly Raphael did so, in those wonderful pictures on display in the National Gallery. The cross is there, pointing to the plan of God unfolding in the birth of Jesus and to the suffering that lies ahead. "The fizz of champagne doesn't last long and the pudding soon becomes stale. But a deeper secret is there to be found, and when found it touches our deepest needs. "Listen again: 'Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.' How easily the words trip off the tongue! How difficult it is to grasp their true meaning! "This is the birthday of Life itself, the birthday of our lives in all their fullness. In him, at last, we know not only the truth about God but also the truth about ourselves. "Now we know how to guide our way on earth, how to judge wisely the things of this world, how to guard our hearts so that they are not coarsened. Now we can look forward to an eternal future with the loved ones we miss so dearly at this time. "Indeed, we can say that just as we have put real effort into getting everything ready for our Christmas celebrations, so too they are preparing that eternal banquet for us to enjoy together one day!" Archbishop Nichols ended: "This night, heaven stoops down to earth, earth is raised to heaven as the Creator of all, he who built the starry skies, lies in a manger. The whole world is riven with angels singing. God and his people are one again, in the birth of this child, in the mystery of the Incarnation."

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