The Nativity of the Lord
Mass During the Night — December 25, 2021
Isaiah 9:1-6, Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13, Letter of Saint Paul to Titus 2:11-14,
and Luke 2:1-14
"Behold, I proclaim to you Good News of great joy that will be for ALL people. A savior has been born for you who is Christ the Lord."
There are three separate sets of readings for the Christmas Mass liturgies: Mass during the Night, Mass at Dawn, and Mass during the Day. I chose the Mass during Night readings for a particular reason.
In 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas aired on T.V. for the first time. Interestingly, the 'Peanuts' creator, Charles M. Schultz, had to battle the CBS network executives nervous about sacred scripture being included in a prime-time network presentation. Fortunately, for countless millions, Mr. Schultz stuck to his guns. The result is one of television's most beloved and popular Christmas specials.
You may recall when Charlie Brown shouts, "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" and then Linus recites Luke's Gospel passage for the night Mass. I found myself marveling at the power of this captivating Gospel. What is it about Luke's telling of the Nativity that makes it so enduring and endearing? Century after century, we are drawn to this story and moved by it over and over. It is, for many of us, "The" Christmas story.
I believe it is the cast of characters Luke assembles. As the only evangelist who was not a Jew. He is the evangelist for the outsider and the outcast, so his Gospel is beautifully inclusive. He mentions Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, angels, and even Caesar Augustus. The only significant characters missing are the Three Wise Men, and we will hear about them during the feast of the Epiphany. In Luke's narrative, EVERYONE is welcome at the stable. No matter the century, or year, we recall this heavenly event, and we, too, are welcomed at the stable.
Beyond the setting and the emotional sentiment, a truth strikes at the heart of every believing Christian—a reality that defines Christmas and defines us as Catholic Christians. It is right there in the middle of the Gospel narrative, in the first words spoken by the angel to the shepherds, which are, "Do not be afraid." The angel continues, "Behold, I proclaim to you Good News of great joy that will be for ALL people. A savior has been born for you who is Christ the Lord."
Dear friends, these are the words we have been waiting and longing to hear. With this moment, the course of human history will change forever. God has become one of us! The Savior's very name proclaims the incredible truth that no one ever thought possible, "Emmanuel, God With Us!"
My prayer is that this beautiful Gospel narrative of Saint Luke resonates in your hearts today and throughout the year. Christmas is about redemption, and it is also about God's overpowering love for us. It is His reassurance to a troubled, frightened, war-torn world that He is indeed with us—yesterday, today, and forever. He dreams with us, struggles with us, and hopes with us. So, DO NOT BE AFRAID!
In the immortal words of the great philosopher Linus Van Pelt, after he recited the words of Saint Luke, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown!"
A Blessed and Merry Christmas to you and yours!