The Nativity of the Lord
Book of the Prophet Isaiah 9:1-6; Psalm 96
Letter of Saint Paul to Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14
The Adoration of the Shepherds by Agnolo Bronzino, circa 1539
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light." "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."
For more than two-thousand years, these phrases of hope have been proclaimed worldwide on Christmas Day. The fulfillment of an infant child, born to a poor Jewish girl and her carpenter husband has come to pass, and the world would change forever!
This is the gift of Christmas: The God who brought into being a vast universe, a universe so immense and so amazing and magnificent that one can only stand in awe at the might of its creator. And now, this God comes to us in the presence and form of an infant human being.
This is the Gift of Christmas: As we gaze in our prayer on the face of this infant, born into poverty, into a world with no room for Him in its hotels or inns. This child enters our human time then and now to bring light to people who walk in the darkness of fear; to give hope to those who can see no end to suffering and difficulty; to bring courage and strength to those who know themselves to be weak and helpless.
This is the Gift of Christmas: God the Father in His unlimited mercy has seen His only begotten Son into a time and place – both then and now; into the world of sin and death – both then and now; into grief and sorrow, terror and shame – both then and now. God the Father has mingled time and the fullness of eternal joy into the person of the human and Divine Jesus. God has entered and will continue to enter fully into the time and place for us – all of us –because we are God's holy people. God brings salvation from all that destroys us. Today, in this our town, our city, in farmlands and deserts, and all over the earth, our Savior is born to us.
This is the Gift of Christmas: This is a day when each one of us who takes the time to do so can gaze into the face of the infant and see the light of hope, the power of courage, and the energy to take up life and live it fully as God meant it to be. This is the day to gather with family and friends, to sing carols, to renew friendships, to play games and tell stories, to break bread and share the good things life has to offer; but above all to notice one another, and to gaze lovingly into the faces around us and see God's holy people; the people who walked in darkness but who now see a great light.
This is the gift of Christmas: We thank our Father in heaven for revealing His love for us in Jesus, that He who is so big and so powerful became so small and so vulnerable for us. In humility, He became one of us, to help us be more like Him and to have the gift of life and faith through Him. As we look upon baby Jesus in the manger, we see that He is the answer to the world's problems in which we live. The devastating effects of war, violence, domestic and international terrorism, social injustice, addictions, the tragedy of abortion, the division between people in our own country, families, and neighborhoods are widespread. As we look upon baby Jesus in the manger, instead of violence, we see gentleness. Instead of hatred, we seed tenderness and mercy. Instead of selfishness, we see love.
This is the Gift of Christmas: Our gift on Christmas Day, and every day is Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the answer to all our needs and desires.
From all of us at Saint Mary Magdalen Parish, may this gift beyond measure be yours today. Have a blessed and Merry Christmas!
Prayer: "I proclaim to you, Good News of great joy: today, a Savior is born for us, Christ the Lord. Alleluia, Alleluia."