Christmas is a time when we remember the birth of a baby, a time of great joy for any family. The family in this case is the whole human race because God became man so that man might become God (CCC 460).
As Christians we rightly celebrate this time with the Mass of Christ, or Christmas. It is a time to gather together with joy, praising God and being thankful for the ‘Yes’ which Mary replied to the angel agreeing to bring the Child Jesus into the world.
Growing up in Glasgow, Christmases were often a time for Church, then heading to both sets of Grandparents for a quick visit before heading home to prepare for the Christmas Day meal. My brothers and I would mostly serve the Midnight Mass and be allowed to open one present before trying to get to sleep. Visiting my grandparents was important, even though we saw them most weeks. Looking back, I can see that my parents and grandparents made lots of sacrifices for us; going without things for themselves to enable us to have great memories.
When Mary said ‘Yes’ to the angel, she sacrificed her whole life, to enable all of mankind to not only have wonderful memories, but to have eternal futures. This time of year has probably had more films and plays written about it than any other, most of them secular. But even the secular plays and films highlight man’s humanity to one another. They highlight love, generosity and criticise selfishness.
The secular world, while trying to remove Christ from Christmas are unable to do so because God is love, and God’s love knows no bounds. Only the other day on a sewing programme on TV, I couldn’t believe it when one presenter asked another presenter what a shepherd and a sheep had to do with Christmas; he replied ‘the nativity’ and she just laughed. Clearly our media do a great job of making this time about time off work with lots of great food and gifts lavished on us.
The scriptures used for the Masses at this time are powerful and memorable. At the Vigil we have Mathew’s Gospel which describes the lineage of Christ and demonstrates that Jesus comes from a complicated family. We should take comfort that God uses even the messiest of families and relationships to be present in our world. As Christians we await His Second Coming, and yet Christmas can sometimes bring out the worst in us, (short tempers, envy, greed). The second reading at the Mass during the night (from St Paul’s letter to Titus) urges us to show self-restraint; this can be in our relationships as well as how we indulge ourselves, a message surely not just for Christmas.
St Luke’s Gospel used in the Mass at dawn we find Jesus placed in a manger, a food trough. Are we being encouraged here to see Jesus as food? Jesus is placed where the farm animals feed. Jesus Christ feeds us; this is repeated throughout Scriptures as Christ offers nourishment for life’s challenges. Can we see the Eucharistic gathering as our manger with God offering himself for us?
The Gospel used during the day is the prologue of John’s Gospel, here we are taken right back to the beginning of time and as fitting for a Mass during the day we hear about the light of God. God’s Light is the source of all life, it provides us warmth and allows life to flourish. The light of God enlivens us. This is a good time to ask ourselves how is God’s light enlivening me today? and where do I need God to shine a light in my darkness?
In our Mass of Christmas, we hear the return of the Gloria, which has been absent (except for Solemnities) for the past four weeks. Our Gloria echoes that of the angels who sang Hosannas in the fields around Bethlehem all those years ago. We rejoice at the birth of Jesus and celebrate this Holy Exchange in which Jesus; the Son of God; became man, allowing us as mankind to become like God.
I would like to wish you all a Happy and Holy Christmas, may the Peace of Christ fill you and your families at this time, wiping away every tear and filling you with love. Amen
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 456-460, 466: “Why did the Word become flesh?”
CCC 461-463, 470-478: the Incarnation
CCC 437, 525-526: the Christmas mystery
CCC 439, 496, 559, 2616: Jesus is the Son of David
CCC 65, 102: God has said everything in his Word
CCC 333: the incarnate Christ worshipped by the angels
CCC 1159-1162, 2131, 2502: the Incarnation and images of Christ
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Peace between all Nations.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those in business who have the power to make decisions to help the poor.
- All of our young people preparing for the Sacraments.
- Those attending our RCIA programme.
- Those for whom Christmas is a difficult time.