Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Nativity of our Lord—25 December AD 2008
“The Lord himself shall give you a sign.
Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and his name shall be called Emmanuel.”

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English

    We hear these words from the Old Testament prophet Isaias, spoken roughly eight centuries before the birth of Christ.  “Emmanuel (לאונמע)” in Hebrew means “God is with us.  And after all those years transpired, the Immaculate Virgin did indeed conceive by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, did bear a Son, and God is indeed with us.  This is, of course, the meaning of Christmas:  God is with His people.

    On Christmas we are privileged to celebrate three Masses:  one at midnight, another at dawn, and a third at mid-morning.  The Church provides three separate texts for these Masses, each with its own proper readings, chants, and prayers.  In the first and second Mass, we read of the birth of our Lord at Bethlehem.  Mary and Joseph journeyed to the city of David, found no room in the inn.  Jesus was born in a stable, placed in a manger, and adored by angels.  Obviously a fitting narrative for the birth of our Lord as man.

    But in the third Mass, the Church reads us a Gospel that is intended to show us our Lord’s birth from another perspective.  Saint John tells us about the second Person of the Holy Trinity, who was God and who was with the Father before all ages.  That is to say that the second Divine Person did not come into being with the Annunciation or with the first Christmas—He existed even before anything material or spiritual was created—an eternity of ages before speaking through the prophet Isaias.

    The Child born on Christmas day was unique in having both human and divine nature.  The Creator so loved his creation—man and woman—that He became one of us to redeem us from original sin.  Man had sinned through Adam, with the cooperation of Eve—and only man could make amends—the new Adam, with the cooperation of the new Eve, in the person of Mary of Nazareth.

    But in the sin of Adam, mankind had offended the infinite God.  The insignificant creature had offended the infinite Creator.  The creature possessed nothing with which to make amends.  It is for this reason that God took on lowly human nature, becoming for us the God‑man.  Jesus Christ, true God and true man was no insignificant creature—indeed, He was the Creator.  Born of a Virgin, sinless from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, our Lord was like us in all things but sin.

    We might ask “why did God do this for us?”  He knew in advance that His birth would not be under comfortable conditions.  He knew that His entire life would be lived under marginal conditions, and would end in the excruciating pain of crucifixion.  So, why would He do this?  Why did He find it necessary to become man at all?  The answer, of course, is that He loved us.  That is the most important aspect of Christmas:  that we understand the love that God has for us—that we return that love—and that in doing so we develop a love of fellow man.  If God loved each and every one of us—and He did—we must also recognize something lovable in each and every one of us.

    Christmas has always been a season of good will—filled with singing, and feasting, and card sending, and gift giving.  And that is good—we should share a certain mutual joy in this day and throughout the Christmas season.  Pope Saint Leo I—Leo the Great—went so far as to say that that “it would be unlawful to be sad” on Christmas day, “for today is life’s birthday”![2]

    But I urge you to remember that our love should be directed primarily towards God—that above all, beyond any of the hustle and bustle of the season, Christmas is the birthday of our Savior.  So, when you leave Mass today, leave knowing that Jesus Christ loves you as both as He is man and as He is God.  Return that love, and share it with those around you—share it in the peace that only the love of Jesus Christ can bring.

“Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and his name shall be called Emmanuel.”
God is with His people!


[1]   Isaias vii: 14.

[2]   Pope Saint Leo I, Sermon on the Nativity, second nocturn of the Feast.





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