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“Today in the town of David a Savior has
been born to you,
who is Christ the Lord.”
Each Christmas we are
privileged to offer three Masses; at midnight, at dawn, and during the day
itself. Each of the three Masses has its own separate text; a proper
Epistle, Gospel, and so on for each. And each one presents the birth of our
Lord from a slightly different perspective.
At midnight, we hear of
His coming from the perspective of the angels, who announce His birth to the
shepherds in the fields with the hymn, “Glória in excélsis Deo—Glory
to God in the highest.”
In the Mass at dawn, we
look through the eyes of the shepherds who came to see the Christ Child, and
who left Him praising God and announcing His birth to all whom they met.
In the third Mass, St.
John's Gospel—the one usually read at the end of Mass—is read as the main
Gospel. It is quite appropriate, as we hear of the Word, the second Person
of the Blessed Trinity, being with God at creation and now becoming one of
us; taking human flesh and dwelling amongst us. It was written, by the way,
to explain this fundamental aspect of Christianity to intellectuals and
philosophers. Greek philosophy already spoke of the creative principle of
the universe as the “Word”—the Logos, by Which chaos was made
There is also a fourth
Gospel; one that is read as the last Gospel during the third Mass. It
speaks of the Magi, those wise and wealthy kings who came to pay tribute to
our Lord shortly after His birth.
I mention these various
Gospel "perspectives," because the birth of our Lord should be a joyous and
holy event for all of us, no matter what our background. It doesn't matter
if we are holy and ascetic people, almost like the angels. Or if we are
concerned with the cares of the world, as were the shepherds. It doesn't
matter if we are wise men or intellectuals like the Greek philosophers. It
doesn't matter if we are simple people like the shepherds in the fields. Or
if we are wealthy like the Magi, or poor like the Holy Family. The point is
that, no matter who or what we are, today Christ is born for us.
If we are man or woman,
old or young, married or single, alone or with friends—it makes no
difference, for Jesus Christ is born for us personally today. It is a day,
as Pope Leo the Great tells us, when it should be unlawful to be sad, for
whatever our condition, today we are one “great step” closer to our
The Son of God, second
Person of the Blessed Trinity, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, did not
hesitate to become one with His creatures; putting aside the glory of
heaven, and exchanging it for a stable, a humble carpenter's shop, and
ultimately for the Cross on Calvary. At great price, He came unto His own,
and to those who receive Him, He gives the power of becoming God's adopted
sons and daughters.
“To as many as received
Him….” That is an important phrase, for the Gospel implies that if we don't
receive Him—if we are more concerned with the “will of blood,” or the “will
of the flesh,” or “the will of man,” we will not receive Him (and He will
not receive us), and we will miss out on our divine adoption.
Now, about this time of
the year, people are wont to make “resolutions”—little promises to
themselves about what they will do to improve themselves in the following
year. The best resolution that any of us can make is to resolve to get to
know Jesus Christ better during this coming year. And as we have seen, it
doesn't matter who we are or what kind of person we are; rich or poor,
saint or sinner, smart or simple; it doesn't matter whether we study Him,
or do great things in His name, or just keep Him company in prayer; there
is something in Jesus for each of us. We too can receive Him according to
the will of God.
So, today then, is a
day for rejoicing—a day on which no one may be sad—it is the feast of our
adoption—for today, Jesus Christ is born!