For almost 200 years men and women sharing the idealism of the young have gathered at Georgetown to celebrate Christmas, to make welcome the Lord. As in the past, we look this year to the young now with us, in their strength and cussedness, their beauty and puzzlement, their vulnerability and hope. Undergraduates are at work tonight in the District of Columbia for an organization called SOME, "So Others May Eat". Like the infant Jesus, their touch is material, but their giving calls us back to our center, the compassion of Christ.
Faculty and students from the schools of medicine and nursing celebrate Christmas tonight in a jungle; they hear gunfire rather than angels, as they care for refugees in Cambodian camps. They give their high skill as healers, but their love calls us back to our center, Christ. Tonight 10 young graduates in the hills of Nicaragua, at work in parishes, schools and dispensaries, know Christmas in a troubled tropic land, very far from home. They offer their strength, their energy, and their care. They too preach to us of our center, Christ.
There are more famous followers of the infant Christ at work in the world tonight, like Mother Teresa in Calcutta, Father Bruce Ritter in Times Square, but none are closer to this old house, as once again it knows not only the joy and beauty of Christmas but its stern reminder. Shepherds and kings, the famous and the unknown, come and go. What abides in this hallowed night of grace is its soul-sized event. Christ's birth recalls to us the center of our being, the ground of our beseeching, the meaning of our lives.
The birth of Christ says again that our great dignity is spiritual, that our only lasting work is spiritual, that the center even of nature lies in grace. It reminds this great nation that we are built on the knowledge of God; that we have grown great as a religious people; that our appeal to all the world rests not on power or success, but on our spiritual goods of freedom, compassion and hope. Angels call us and shepherds lead us to the infant Christ. There is our home, for eternity as in time. This night, as always, "Home is where we start from."