CHRISTMAS REFLECTIONS READINGS FOR THE LITURGY OF THE WORD
Mass during the Day And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us • Isaiah 52:7-10 [All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God. /v.10] • Psalm 98:1 / 2-3 / 3-4 / 5-6 [All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.] • Hebrews 1:1-6 [God has spoken to us in His Son.] • John 1:1-18 [And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.]
What would this child be? Whenever a child is born in every other culture, one of the principal curiosities is: What kind of a child is it? It is often not enough to know if it is male or female. What would the child become? The question does not only imply the moral behaviour of the child. It also envisages the kind of fortune this new born will carry with him into the world. Each one hopes that the child would be a blessing not only to his parents or relatives but also to the society and to the whole world. There is no doubt that Christ was a blessing to the whole world and still is. The Liturgy of today draws our attention to the expression of Isaiah: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. Eternal is his sway”. The new born Jesus is born so that we might benefit from the graces, the blessings He brings. He is born “unto us”, He is a gift ‘given unto us” and His influence, His leaning towards us on earth will be an eternal one with all the blessings this implies.
Why are we rejoicing at Christmas? Today, we are called to manifest our joy in this mystery. It is about God who has left His glory and majesty to pitch His tent among us. The prayers and readings of our celebrations at night and during the day highlight basically two aspects: They supply reasons why we are to rejoice and tell us how this joy is to be manifested. In our prayers for the celebration during the day, we celebrate the fact that our joy has everything to do with the history of why God created humankind. From the beginning, God had in mind this great plan of our salvation which today He unfolds and makes places it in human time. He set out to fulfill this by sending His Only Begotten Son. The Son will live among us in humility and will, through His life, death and resurrection, bring fallen humankind to a renewed life, first on this earth: through our Christian response to the call to perfection, then in the life to come where we shall, like adopted sons and daughters enjoy full participation in His Divinity.
The basis of our joy – Eternal Happiness in Heaven! This is the basis for all our joy. It is for this that we live and it is for this we were created, for God made us to be happy with Him forever in heaven. To be happy with Him forever, the Penny Catechism indicates that we must know Him, love Him and serve Him all the days of our lives here on earth and in the world to come.
What Christmas peace is not! We said a while ago the Liturgy supplies reasons why we rejoice today. Let us ponder for a while the purpose of this vocation to rejoice. We are called to celebrate joyfully because true PEACE has come down from heaven. Peace is a priceless gift, but not any kind of peace. We are talking of the kind of peace that the world cannot give. How is this peace like? Negatively, it is not the product of the so called “Road Map” which has characterized and pacified the turbulent relationship between nations of the Middle East. We are not talking about the shadow tranquility that may result from a devastating experience of war, be it war against terrorism, intertribal or religious conflicts, political rebellions and civil strife, often marked by some suspicious ‘cease-fire’ which more often than note only serves as a temporary halt for parties to flex their muscles and return to the battle ground with more zest and vigour. It is not even the peace that results from the silencing of those who challenge us when our oppressive measures promote marginalization, discrimination and mental distress. XMAS PEACE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF WAR
True Christmas Peace! Positively, we are thinking of a situation that is capable of bring together without any fear of partiality, the lamb and lion; the playful child over the hole of a cobra. The language of enmity does not exist in such a state. This kind of peace will put an end to brother betraying brother to death, or father taking a stand against the son, daughter against the mother, for they will be all gazing at one direction. If this will ever be possible, it will be thanks to our new Sovereign – The Lord, the Infant Babe in the Manger. Today is the day for those who did not know where to go for counsel to realize that we have “The Wonderful Counselor”. Our peace will flow when we keep to the counsels He will dish out. Our joy is great today, since we have been given a Saviour.
Celebrating the Gift of Salvation! In which sense are we to celebrate this gift of salvation in our liturgical thoughts? It is certainly not about political liberation even when He may be implored to influence meaningful political changes in a world when oppression is rife. It is not about the betterment of the economic situation of a world, for, Christ came more than 2000 years ago, yet, famine, poverty, slavery political oppression and so on still exists. Yet, the social agenda the Son of God will embark on will provide spiritual guiding principles that would lead to a more improved economic and social wellbeing of all, when the common good is placed at the fore.
The Uniqueness of the Infant Jesus! What then is this liberation Christ brings? It is about the return of the Lord of Zion. This is typical of the figure who is to bring consolation to his people. What kind of consolation could this be: active or passive? We are rejoicing because before us, stands one who bears with Him the true sense of justice: fruit of His love; fruits of His kindness and mercy. This day is one of great joy because we now have one whose role is to lead us to the full revelation of who God is. So far, we have been having a mere glimpse of the God we mean to worship eternally through the preaching and witnessing of the prophets. We are talking about the one who is the radiation of God's glory. He is consubstantial with the Father. Through Him, the Father sustains all things by the power of His Word. The Christmas Son of God will purify us from our sins and upon His return inglory will lift up fallen humankind higher than the angels. These reasons for rejoicing are worth more than attaining silver or gold, food or drink, for the Kingdom He brings means righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Christmas – Feast of the True Light! Today our rejoicing is given, because the light that dispels our darkness is born. We are called to approach this light and to let go our own darkness. John the Evangelist, meditating on who the new born Child is, prefers to refer to Him as ‘the Word’. He presents this Word in the light of the whole mystery of Christ. Before His birth, the Word, was with God, the Father, and was God. Today He is born or rather, He assumes Human flesh and takes on His mission as Light of the world, as the Truth, He comes to His own world, created in and through Him, yet the reception of the True Word from above is not cordial. Some reject Him, others accept Him. Our reason to rejoice lies in the fact, that for those who accept Jesus, the Father makes them His sons and daughters too. Jesus opens them up to the glory of the Father.
Christmas – Time to celebrate! The second aspect of the Liturgy of today regards how we are to manifest this joy. We find the clue in the Psalm. We are to sing a new song to the Lord. There is no question of going back to the old. It is to be a new song. Our whole life from now own must become a new hymn of praise to the Lord. Day after day, we are to tell among the nations that we have One who has been born to us, and He is our Saviour. It is often said that good news is better than bad news and that goodness diffuses itself. Announcing the Good news about the birth of a Saviour to the nations is a task we accomplish when we celebrate. To express our joy at His birth, we are to celebrate His mystery in the Liturgy, in the sacraments, by our active participation in the assembly of the faithful, by our constancy in following the ‘WAY’. Finally, we are to bear witness before the peoples that Jesus is our joy, by our way of life, a life that opens us to the practice of the faith and to Christian charity. With such a way of looking at Christ's birth, let us rejoice and exult with songs of joy as we celebrate Christmas.
May the Incarnate Word dwell in us forever! Et incarnatusest….Et homo factusest: He was incarnate… and was made man ! May the Incarnate Word live with us forever in hearts freed from the stain of sin and guilt, leaving us with a joy the world cannot give.