Christmas: The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The demons of “political correctness” have worked feverishly over the past few decades, attempting to remove not only Christ from Christmas, but Christmas itself from the calendar. Perhaps this trend will be reversed when the merchants discover that Christians do not spend money to celebrate the meaningless replacement of the Nativity which they call “The Holidays.” But for the moment, it may help for us all to spend a few moments considering the events which Christians celebrate surrounding the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is not a coincidence that the feast of the Immaculate Conception falls in December, during the season of Advent. In the third chapter of Genesis, in what the Church calls the “proto-Gospel,” we read about the fall of mankind from grace, the inheritance of original sin, and God’s promise to send a Redeemer who would once again make it possible for man to share eternal life with God according to His original plan. Even in that early day, the “proto-Gospel,” spoke of the good news of Redemption. God told the devil that he would put enmity between the seed of the woman, and the seed of the devil. “She shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” Later, God renewed His pledge, making a covenant with Abraham and the Patriarchs. The four weeks of Advent remind us of the thousands of years spent by the faithful people of the Old Testament awaiting their Savior
The woman whose seed would crush the head of the devil was the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Virgin predicted by the Prophet Isaias, who would “conceive and bring forth a Son and call His name Emmanuel.”[i] To be a fit dwelling place for our sinless Redeemer, the Virgin herself was conceived in the mind of God before all creation; a women of perfect humility and spotless purity; “through God’s prevenient grace, preserved from every stain of sin ...through the foreseen death of her Son” on the Cross.[ii] Conceived in time, the daughter of Joachim and Anne was thus free from original sin from the very beginning of her existence.
In the fullness of God’s time, He sent the Archangel Gabriel to make His plan known to His Immaculate Spouse: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee, and the Holy One to be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”[iii] And to Joseph, her espoused protector: “Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son: and thou shalt call his name Jesus. For He shall save His people from their sins.[iv] And then, in Jerusalem, “when the days were accomplished that she should be delivered, 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.”[v]
It must be clearly understood that Mary’s Son was no mere mortal man. He was the Son of Joseph only in the legal sense, but not according to the flesh. He was the true Son of Mary, from whom He received the entirety of His physical humanity at the moment of the Annunciation. But, far from being created at that moment, He was the true Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, “begotten not made” from all eternity. “In the beginning was the Word: and the Word was with God: and the Word was God. All things were made by Him: and without Him was made nothing that was made.”[vi]
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”[vii] Christmas, the birthday of Jesus Christ, was a day of great public joy, as it should be in our own time. God’s angels made Jesus’ birth known first to the humblest of the Old Testament Jews, the shepherds of the field: “I bring you good tidings of great joy that shall be to all the people: For, this day is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.... And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest: and on earth peace to men of good will.”[viii]
But Jesus was born not just for the people of the Old Testament, but for the multitudes as well: “Magi came from the East to Jerusalem ... having seen His star in the East, they came to worship Him ...and entering the house they found the Child with Mary His mother, and falling down they worshipped Him ... offering gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.[ix]
He was born as well for the people of our time, the multitudes of every race and nation and tongue. Rejoice for this day is born to us a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord! Merry Christmas! Holy Epiphany!
[i] Isaias 7: 10-15, First Saturday and Ember Wednesday of Advent.
[ii] Collect and Secret of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th.
[iii] Luke 1: 26-38, First Saturday and Ember Wednesday of Advent.
[iv] Matthew 1: 18-21, Vigil of Christmas.
[v] Luke 2: 1-14, Midnight Mass of Christmas.
[vi] John 1: 1-14, Third Mass of Christmas.
[viii] Luke 2: 1-14, Midnight Mass of Christmas.
[ix] Matthew 2: 1-12, The Epiphany (manifestation) of our Lord.