Is 52:7-10 Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6 Heb 1:1-6 Jn 1:1-18 or 1:1-5, 9-14
Whenever our family gathers together to celebrate birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, baptisms, weddings and funerals we always arrive at a point where we begin to share the stories of our lives together. All families have stories that are told in which we remember our history, in which we recall what has happened to make us the kind of family that we are. At the same time, when we recall these stories we remember that God has been good to us, has blessed us, and has been with us. Today is no different because today as a Church we gather together and remember the stories about the birth of Jesus.
Now that’s a Birthday Party!
The Church celebrates with a lot of color, grandeur and festivity. At Christmas, we gather as a family – the sons and daughters of God to remember the birthday of our brother Jesus. We retell the stories about Jesus’ birth and try to come to a deeper understanding of the meaning of this event for the members of our family. For this reason the Church celebrates the birth of Christ through four different masses, one at sundown on Christmas Eve, keeping with the Jewish roots of our family where the new day begins at sundown. Then, at midnight we celebrate the coming of Christ in vigil, waiting up through the night for the advent of this great day. We gathered again at dawn to announce the coming of Christ to the world at first light, and then finally, now in the light of day.
Genealogy – Christ came to heal what was broken
At each mass we retell the story of Christ’s birth, and we are invited to reflect on the events of this miraculous day. The first mass of Christmas is the mass on Christmas Eve, right after sundown. The readings of this mass celebrate the birth of Christ from Matthew’s Gospel – Reading the genealogy of Christ that emphasizes the point that Christ really became man – He really chose to enter into the flesh of our human existence. We read also of St. Joseph’s response to the angel to take Mary as his wife. In this we see that Christ entered into this genealogy to heal what was broken, to set right what had been corrupted, to make our family whole again.
Angels announce, Shepherds respond
Then we celebrated the mass at midnight where we entered into the most beautiful part of the Christmas mystery. In our celebration we heard from the Gospel of Luke, where the angels came to the shepherds who were watching their flocks at night announcing the birth of Christ – the Messiah. We followed this early in the morning when we celebrated the mass at dawn, hearing how the shepherds responded to the angels tidings; how they went to Bethlehem (which means the house of bread) and found Christ lying in a manger where they bowed down and did him homage. Their reaction to this first encounter with Christ was to make “known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds…Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.”
The fourth part of our celebration this day is to hear from the beginning of John’s Gospel, where we see how John responded to this event as he wrote down the story at the end of his life. John talks about giving testimony, of announcing that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”
Christ is inviting us to be His heralds
The readings for our liturgy invite us to become heralds to the truth. We are invited today to announce to those we live with that Jesus has come to heal and bring us to the peace of God the Father.
What is a herald?
A herald is one who tells the story. As Christians, we tell the story by living the story, and so we enter more deeply into our own relationship with God, and through our own personal relationship we proclaim the good news that is announced to us this day. Isaiah the prophet describes heralds when he says “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, “Your God is King!” Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion.”
Are we living so that we can really be heralds? Do we see what God is doing in our lives and in our world? Do we allow God to establish His Kingdom in our lives by living according to His laws so that he is able to swiftly and silently come to visit our souls?
Today is a new day
In a way it does not matter how we answer these questions. That is the joy of our celebration today, because today is a new day. Today we are invited to a new encounter with God. It does not matter what I did yesterday, it does not matter what has occurred in my life up until this point, because today we have heard – perhaps for the first time that God has a profound interest in our lives. Jesus came to earth this Christmas to get to know you and I. He comes to heal what is hurt in our hearts and souls. He took on human flesh so that we could enter into eternal life with God the Father. Today we celebrate that Christ is God with Us – He is Emmanuel.
Share the Story that God is with us – Be Christ’s Herald!
This is why today is a new day. Today we receive the invitation to come to know Christ more fully so that we can enter into a true relationship with God. It is in our relationship with God that all of our desires can be satisfied. This is what today is about – that God became man to bring us into right relationship with Him. When we find ourselves in right relationship with God then we are able to experience the love that He has for us in the depths of our hearts.
- Today is a new day for us because today, Christ invites us to enter into the story, just as he invited the shepherds on the day of his birth 2000 years ago.
- Today, we encounter Christ in the Word, as we share the scriptures, the stories of our family.
- Today we encounter Christ in the flesh as we share in his Body that was broken for us to unite us with God the Father.
- Today, we are invited to become Heralds of the Good News – that Christ is born to us; that He is the Way to the Father, so that we can be embraced by His loving arms and be filled with His peace.