Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day

"A child Is Born"
(Feast of the Nativity)

here went forth a decree from Caesar Augustus, that the w3hole world should be enrolled.  This enrollment was first made by Cyrinus the governor of Syria, and all went to be enrolled, every one into his own city.  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary his espoused wife, who was with child.  And it came to pass,that when they were there, her days were accomplished, that she should be delivered.  And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  And there were in the same country shep0herds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.  And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of god shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.  And the angel said unto them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all the people: for this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.  And this shall be a sign unto you:  You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will (Lk. 2:1-14).

The message of Christmas is the sweetest story ever told -- " a Child is born"; and that Child is God, born of Mary ever virgin, a maiden espoused to a man named Joseph, the humble carpenter of Nazareth.

The message of birth is always an occasion for joy, but what greater joy could there be than the message of the birth of God amongst men.  For joy of this birth the angels sang, echoing over the hills of Bethlehem, a Gloria in Excelsis Deo, and the message;  "For this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.  And this shall be a sign unto you:  You shall find the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger." In the introit of the third Christmas Mass we read:  "A Child is born to us, and a son is given to us." The Christ Child is born for our salvation.  He is the Son of God!  He is given to us -- what a gift at Christmas!

Recently I spoke to a little six-year old school child whom I saw standing outside the school building shortly after 9 o'clock.  She was in great fear lest if she entered the school -- for she was late -- she would incur severe penalties from her teacher.  I offered to take her into the classroom to plead her cause, for she was in tears.  But she refused to let me do so and decided to return home again.  I imagine there was nothing so terrible at that particular moment for that little girl than to face her teacher.  And so it is with ourselves and the great God of heaven and earth.  Our troubles at Christmas time in a war-ridden world are more tumultuous to us than the raging seas, but I wonder if God does not see another side.  you may say, what could be more grave than the suicidal act of war -- brother killing brother.  Does God ridicule our ills as picayune?  No!  But God can see the ultimate end of it all -- that good will triumph after the world has been scourged at the pillar of suffering and has crucified its own pride and sensuality.  For we are but children to God; yes children of a larger growth, and what matters it at all if we are purged of our selfishness, our waywardness, our sinfulness here, so long as we gain the victory over our lower impulses and win life eternal?

Could nature talk to us on a beautiful night as the stars twinkle in the heavens and bombers block out momentarily the light of the moon, she would say to us, that which is small in you, you are magnifying, and that which is great in you, you are minimizing.  Your destiny lies beyond the stars, beyond the moon, beyond the earth.  your short span of earthly existence is so unimportant as compared with your eternal destiny that you are foolish to take anything serious in life except the saving of your immortal soul.  If the oxen in the cave of Bethlehem could only speak they would tell us that we would find Christ in a humble cave of the hillside and not in the inn of the world.  If nature against whose starry background the bombers fly and upon whose bosom of the sea the ships and submarines sport in war, if the very skies through which the jets speed their way could but utter a word, they would all sing, "Glory to God" and "Oh, how foolish are the sons of men who war in frenzied hate."

Ah, but the skies do speak, the stars speak!  Yes, and the oceans speak!  They tell us of God; of His power, His might, His beauty, His omnipotence!  For those who have faith the handwriting of God is seen in everything He has written, be it carved in the rocks, the brooks, the sky, or the sea!  "I see His blood upon the rose... His face in every flower," said Joseph Plunkett.

Look into the face of a child this Christmas, and you will see there the hope of the future world.  All your cares will have ceased a thousand times over when that child reaches maturity.  Look into the face of the Child in the crib, the virgin Mother, and Joseph, and you will find the message of Christmas Lift up you heart, as the priest at Mass reads:  "A Child is born," and sing "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men of good will."


Babe of Bethlehem, help me to minimize my worldly ills by placing them all at Your feet and help me to magnify in true perspective the Church's teaching that nothing counts so much as a good life.  Help me to be humble by placing all success at Your feet, that I may know true greatness consists in acknowledging that all I have is Yours, and You are mine, and I am the littlest child of God.

1 comment:

Soutenus said...

Lisa, thank you so much for sharing this. This has been an amazing resource!