In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:1-14)
Once again, we are there. Suddenly the darkness of the night is illuminated by the brightest of lights. We instinctively step back and perhaps shield our eyes. But then we hear the most joyful words we could ever imagine.
“Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.”
The enormity of those words is followed by the sweetness of angelic voices behind us and we hear:
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
No matter where we are today, no matter what we are doing, that scene and those words are a soothing balm. That scene and those words force us to believe that there will be peace in our souls and to this world. That scene and those words bring us hope.
Our hearts are cradled by those words. We want that scene to be true. We want to know the reality of that birth in our lives.
In a year of darkness, we need that light to cast out the shadows of 2020. We want to hear the good news, the promise and the hope. Not just for us but for all – Blacks, Whites, Brown, liberals, conservatives, Muslim, Jew, Christian, immigrants, gay and straight – all of God’s children.
For Christmas is our communal recognition, our shared celebration, that God is with us still; God is still speaking, still acting in our lives and in the life of the world that God loves so well. God is still with us, as we celebrate, and we sing our carols this Christmas. But how will we continue to sing these songs, in the days ahead? How is this night not only unlike all other nights, but indeed like every other night of our lives?
We need to hold on to our belief that Christ comes to dwell in our stable. He asks for no luxury, no gifts, not even a host of angels announcing his entry. He asks for only one thing . . . he asks for our open hearts.
God wants to reveal His loving presence just like he did in Bethlehem all those years ago. We are not God, and yet God chooses us as instruments to convey His presence. St. Paul reminds us of this in Sacred Scripture. He says in his First Letter to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). Because God dwells within us, God can communicate His love in the most familiar of ways, the most simple of gestures, the kindness of one or two words.
Somehow that little manger in Bethlehem holds the creator of us all and by his manger you and I, every aspect of our lives, and all of creation are cradled in him. Today, the Creator is born and by his birth we, the created, are made anew, reborn, and recreated.
This Christmas, let us ask Him to touch our hearts with the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus, let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the baby Jesus, our Lord, who today once more comes to meet us.
May you have a Christmas filled with His blessings and may you go forth from your home to be His light.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord our God, with the birth of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, your glory breaks on the world. As we celebrate his first coming, give us a foretaste of the joy that you will grant us when the fulness of his glory has filled the earth.”
This day the Holy Spirit invites us to make haste – as the shepherds of Bethlehem did – to adore Jesus our King and Messiah. The Lord Jesus Christ is our eternal good shepherd who guides and cares for us unceasingly and who gives us abundant everlasting life and union with the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The joy of Christmas is not for a day or a season. It is an eternal joy, a joy that no one can take from us because it is the joy of Jesus Christ himself made present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (see Romans 5:2-5). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which no pain nor sorrow can diminish, and which neither life nor death can take away