25 December: Christmas Day, Year A, B, C
Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10; Heb 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
About two thousand years ago, while silence covered the little town of Bethlehem, something extraordinary happened. A child was born of the Virgin Mary. That is why at Christmas we joyfully celebrate the Good News announced by the Angel that night: "Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord". We join millions of Christians around the world in celebrating this joyful event of Christ in our midst, the Son of God, who assumes our human flesh, born of the Virgin Mary. When we receive a precious gift, we rejoice because it is a sign that someone loves us. God’s gift of himself to us in the Incarnation is therefore clear evidence of God’s love and goodness for us. During the last 4 weeks of Advent, we have prepared ourselves for Christmas, the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in the first reading of the Midnight Mass. "For there is a child born for us, a son is given to us". That is why at Christmas we rejoice because the salvation promised us is now ful¬filled; our Saviour is born; a Saviour who brings light into the world. "The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone”.
The readings for this Mass generally proclaim the “cosmic dimensions” of Jesus’ birth. All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of God. In former times, God spoke in varied and partial ways through the prophets; now he has spoken to us clearly by his Son. The gospel is the prologue to John’s Gospel: From all eternity, the Word exists with the Father. All things were made through him, for him, and unto him. Everything that comes to life, lives because of him. This eternal Word of God becomes flesh! He empties himself to become one of us in order to save us! God humbles himself to be born as a baby in the back streets of Bethlehem. Yet this child who is born in a manger is the Lord of all things. Christ left his heavenly glory to become one of us to save us. The Gospel passage is a beautiful way of speaking about Jesus as the Word who was with God from the beginning, and through whom all things were made. Gradually John introduces us to his theological style of using contrasting pairs: life and death; light and darkness; acceptance and rejection. One verse that captured my immagination is the following: “From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace.” Jesus comes not only to save us from sin, but also to bring us, from the abundance of God, grace upon grace. One possible way of understanding grace upon grace is to imagine a moment when we all live the spirit of Christmas. If every one of us opened their hearts so that Christ may be born in our lives, that would be “grace upon grace". Let me finish with a quote from Blessed Mother Teresa that seems to capture that meaning. Referring to Christmas she once said:
"It is Christmas every time you smile to another person
and hold his/her hand.
It is Christmas Every time you keep silent
to listen to another person.
It is Christmas Every time you hope
with those in despair.
It is Christmas Every time you allow God
to be born in you and after you give Him to others.
Then, every day for us will be Christmas.” (source unknown)
©2007 John M. Mbinda