Readings for Christmas
Isaiah 62:1-5; Ps 89 Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord; Acts 13:16-25; Matt 1:1-25
Isaiah 9:1-6; Psalm 96 Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14
Mass at Dawn
Isaiah 62:11-12;Ps 97 A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us; Titus 3:4-7; Luke 2:15-20
Mass during the Day
Isaiah 52:7-10; Ps 98 All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God; Hebrews 1:1-6;John1:1-18
There is a lot to take in on this celebration of the birth of our Savior. Take some time to read the readings and let the fullness of the meaning enter your heart and soul.
It is true to say that nothing changes us like a baby.
A baby's presence transforms people lives both for the good and bad. Husbands and wives become fathers and mothers. Sons and daughters become brothers and sisters. Parents become grandparents. Uncles and aunts arrive on the scene when a baby is born anew into the world.
Nothing changes us like a baby.
Enemies becomes friends. Agendas are seta side. Attention is put where it has always needed to be in the first place. Houses become homes, sanctuaries of cleanliness and sanitation. Everything is sharpened and becomes more alive because of this deep sense of alertness that comes with a child being born into the world.
Nothing changes us like a baby.
Will we let this baby born to us transform us as we move into the new year.
For as we sing in the song, O little Town of Bethlehem, "Our hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."
We will we let this child become the gravitational pull in which our hopes and fears finally have a resting place?
In this season we renew our old customs and traditions with our family and friends. There is togetherness and laughter. Generosity abounds in this season of light and joy where we look for ways to manifest that generosity of goodness usually in gifts wrapped and brought and delivered to express our affection in concrete ways for we know words don't seem to be sufficient.
Joy and goodness echo from earth upward into the heavens and like a boomerang it comes back to fill our hearts and minds.
This is what we look for this season. Along with this we look for peace.
I was in a bank earlier and found myself singing along to a christmas carol: Have your self a merry little christmas. As I was singing the tellers were rooting me on. Then I got to the verse that struck me in my heart: "Let your heart be light, from now on your troubles will be out of sight...have your self a merry little christmas...make the yuletide gay..from now on your troubles will be miles away.."
I thought to myself, will there be a moment that our troubles will be out of sight or even miles away.
Then instantly the words of the song little town of Bethlehem flooded my soul: hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight."
Look at the words of the second reading from midnight
St Paul tell us, "The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devout in this age,a s we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ..."
We are empowered by Christ not so much to be free from trials and tribulations but to journey through them with great hope. We no longer have to be bound by worldly desires but for once, our life can be lifted high and our spirit can soar with things of real importance and consequence.
This is why the angels sing that great hymn: glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
On whom does his favor rest?
The obvious answer is on this child born to us: Jesus himself bears the weight of God's favor for all of humanity. Jesus is the one with whom God is pleased. Jesus lives completely oriented toward the Father, focused on him and in communion with him. For us who share the attitude of Jesus, being confirmed to the Son, we are united to God's good pleasure.
Grace and freedom become totally interwoven. We could not love have we not been loved. God's grace precede us in the race, embraces us and carries us. But it remains true that we must love in return. This is God's good pleasure revealed to us in this Christmas celebration.
We have a choice we can create space for this child to enter into our lives not just for a moment but thoroughly or we can be like the inn keeper and refuse to create space and crowd him out.
No one remembers the inn. But the place that received Mary and child remains a vibrant a part of our rich tradition. It is marked with a silver star and is decorated with a exquisite basilica. We remember the place that welcomed him. Even the shepherd fields are highly decorated for their response to the angels message. Yet, the inn remains gone from our memory.
Which will we choose? Remember the words of the prophet "The ox knows its owner, and the ass its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people does not understand." Isaiah
In this season of presents, we seek to imitate God who gives us himself. The only worthy response is to return the favor and give him ourselves as well.