Nativity of the Lord (Christmas) Mass During the Day
Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18
On behalf of everyone at Saint James, Father Oscar and the entire staff who work hard all year keeping the building and grounds as well as all the various programs, a very Merry Christmas to all. We all share the immense joy of the remembrance of the birth of our Savior and King.
We wish Father Oscar well as he begins shortly his annual vacation home to visit his family. May he have a safe trip and return here safely. We also welcome Father Gino again this year, and are very happy that he has made it here safely and can again fill in for Father Oscar.
In today's Gospel, we hear one of the greatest passages written in the bible, the evangelist John's great beginning of his Gospel account of Jesus. It comes after a series of Gospels that have been proclaimed in the Masses starting yesterday. At the vigil Mass last night, Saint Matthew's account of the birth of Jesus was read, which recounted the entire genealogy of his family from Abraham to King David to the Babylonian exile to Joseph. Matthew does not give an actual account of the birth in Bethlehem, other than saying it happened and then relating the visit of the Magi – that story is left to Luke, whose account of the birth of Jesus is proclaimed at the midnight Mass. Saint Luke gives us the account of the birth that we all know and love, with the shepherds and angels and the great Glory to God in the Highest. So, in other words, yesterday and last night, we heard the “how” of Christ's birth from Matthew and Luke. Today, we hear of the “why” from John.
The “why” actually starts in the first reading, where the prophet Isaiah announces the good news and tells us of the promise of God's salvation. The psalm is a song of thanksgiving for all that God has given to us. In the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, we hear that Jesus is that salvation, who will purify us of our sins and make us right with God. Then in the Gospel, we put this all together. Jesus Christ, the Son, the Word of God from before time, has now come into this world to be a part of the world. By so doing, he became the promised light to all of humankind so as to dispel the darkness and save those who believe. This is what we believe, that by our baptism we have joined ourselves to the promises made by God, that he will save us, not through any of our own merit – we could never merit this on our own – but because of his infinite grace if we will only do his will.
Christmas is not the full story – it is just the beginning. We will work our way through this year and continue to learn and practice what the newborn baby will teach as when he grows to be a man like us. And because he was a man like us, he too experienced the joys of life such as we now feel at Christmas, as well as the sorrows of life such as the death of friends like Lazarus and his own passion and death. And we celebrate the beginning knowing the end – the death, resurrection, and ascension, all part of the story of our salvation. But let us today celebrate the beginning, with all of the wonderful traditions that we have. Let the gifts we give each other bring the joy we have to each other, in the spirit of love of God and love of neighbor. Let the salvation of our God promised today guide us in our efforts this year to fully understand what Christ taught us, that we one day might forever live in the light of the presence of God in heaven. Merry Christmas.