Tuesday, December 23, 2008

December 25 ~ The Nativity of the Lord (Mass at Midnight)

Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).

Luke 2: 1-14

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”


There is one message for me this Christmas ~ Humility. Simplicity. Surrender.

When the decree went out for all to be counted, St. Joseph packed up Mary and went on his way. He obeyed the law whether it was convenient or not. He wasn't even married to Mary, but he took her with him, to fulfill what was prophesied. To me, this shows a tremendous respect for authority, a hint of the respect St. Joseph had for the authority of God, and reminds me to surrender myself to His will as humbly as St. Joseph whether it is convenient or not.

When they finally did get to Bethlehem, there is no room at the inn. Was Joseph upset? Did he complain that they had traveled SO far and demand a bed for his betrothed? I don't think so. He humbly accepted what was given to him, a dirty, smelly, damp cave where the Savior of the World was born. We have all imagined that night, giving birth in the hay, nursing among the animals. It is far from what we would expect, but it is exactly the way God planned it to be.

The shepherds in the fields hear an unbelievable story. Angels appear and explain that the Savior has been born, but the sign will be that he is wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in manger. Can you imagine the confused looks on the shepherds' faces? It's like saying, God has been made man, and He is in rags in a feeding trough. But, those shepherds believed. Perhaps in blind faith, they went to worship Him in all of His Poverty and Simplicity.

Christmas should bring us great joy, as the angels declare. We should deck the halls and feast and be merry! Just don't forget that Jesus Christ came to save you and me as a helpless newborn baby in a barn in the middle of the night.

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