Christmas—25 December A.D. 2016
Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
There is one small change in the Mass at Christmas—one which
occurs at only one other time of the year; on the feast of the Annunciation on
March 25th—that is that when we sing or recite the Nicene Creed, we kneel
instead of genuflecting at the words: “And He Was Made Man—Et homo factus est.”
The fact that this occurs only on these
two feast days is not a coincidence. In fact both days celebrate pretty much
the same thing. Both on March 25th and December 25th we are taken by the fact
that Almighty God—who is so far away and above us, took up human nature and
became one of us. On both of these days we celebrate what we call the
“Incarnation”—that the Son of God took a body of human flesh and bone and
entered human history by uniting His divinity with our humanity.
Most of the major feasts of the year
honor some significant characteristic of our Lord or of our Blessed Mother. For
instance, we honor Him on the occasion of His Resurrection from the dead, or His
glorious Ascension into heaven, or perhaps His Transfiguration into a state of
We honor Her for her Immaculate
Conception, her bodily Assumption, or under any one of a great number of titles
which reflect her prerogatives and achievements.
In all cases, we are grateful for the
divine favors granted to us here on earth—but the emphasis is usually on
honoring our Lord and Lady.
This feast of Christmas, the feast of
our Lord's Incarnation, comes about as close as is possible to honoring
mankind. For certainly we are the ones honored by our Lord's becoming one of
us. This action of our Lord, in taking human nature and human flesh, is not
something to be taken lightly. It has a profound significance, in that it
indicates something about the way in which our God regards us.
There is an unfortunate tendency for us
to view humanity from its worst side. Not only do we acknowledge the fall of
mankind through Adam and Eve—but we tend to view our situation as hopeless.
There is the temptation to “sin, and sin mightily,” (as Martin Luther said)
because we don't see that we can ever do any better than that.
We are tempted to break the Commandments—and to keep on breaking them—because we
fail to see that with God's grace, we can do better.
But fortunately, our Lord knew that
there was some good left in the human race. Even though we had fallen into
sin—through Adam and Even and through our own personal sins—He felt that we were
worth His while. He felt that we were worth redeeming—that we were worth the
trouble of becoming one of us. “… That we might become partaker of His
divinity, Who humbled Himself to become partaker of our humanity.”
This ought to be the thing that brings
the most joy to us during this celebration of Christmas. This is indeed a time
for optimism; for feeling good; for renewing the bonds of friendship and family.
Indeed some 1,600 years ago, Pope Saint
Leo the Great went so far as to say:
It would be
unlawful to be sad today, for today is Life's Birthday the Birthday of that
Life, Which, for us dying creatures, takes away the sting of death, and brings
the bright promise of eternal gladness hereafter.
It is a time for feeling good because
our Lord Himself has demonstrated that great things can come from the human
race. This is not a time of penance, not a time of gloominess, not a time for
doubting our abilities. It is a time for rejoicing, and a time for joining our
Lord in the holiness which He brought to humankind by His Incarnation.
Pope Leo continues:
Rejoice if you
are a saint: You are drawing nearer to the palm of victory! Rejoice if you are
a sinner, for your Savior offers you pardon! Rejoice even if you are a Pagan:
for God calls you to life!
“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt
Today we know that our Lord Jesus Christ became one of us. Let us rejoice, and
be one with Him. He has demonstrated that He knows that we are capable.
Let us rejoice and be holy with Him.