December 25, 2015

Christmas

December 25, 2015:  Christmas Day

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From Handel's Messiah
Pope Francis
Midnight Mass homily:  Tonight a great light shines around us, the light of Jesus’ birth.  Our heart was joyful awaiting this moment; now that the promise is fulfilled, our joy overflows. Joy is a sign tonight's message is from God.  There's no room for the indifference of those who can't love because they fear losing something.  The Child Jesus brings comfort to every heart.
The Son of God is born, and everything changes.  The Savior takes on our nature; we're no longer alone.  Light has come to illumine our lives often beset by the darkness of sin.  We discover who we are!  We've been shown the way.  Now we must put away fear and dread.  We can't stand idle.  We must set out to see our Savior.  We've been given the mission of making the Prince of Peace known and becoming his servants.
Let us be silent, let the Child speak, and take his words to heart.  If we let him embrace us, he'll bring us peace.  The Child teaches us what's essential in our lives. He was born into our poverty; there was no room in the inn for him and his family.  He found shelter and support in a stable and was laid in a manger.  And yet, from this nothingness, God’s glory shines forth.  The way of liberation and redemption is open to all the simple of heart. This Child, whose face radiates the Father's goodness, mercy, and love, trains us to reject godless ways and the world's richness, to live temperately, justly, and devoutly.
In a society often intoxicated by consumerism, hedonism, wealth, extravagance, appearances, and narcissism, this Child calls us to act soberly and simply, balanced, consistent, capable of seeing and doing what's essential.  In a world often merciless to the sinner and lenient to the sin, we need to cultivate a sense of justice, to discern and do God’s will.  Amid a culture of indifference which can turn ruthless, our life should be devout, filled with empathy, compassion, and mercy, and drawn from prayer.  Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too gaze upon the Child, Son of God.  And may our hearts pray, “Show us your mercy, and grant us your salvation.”
Urbi et Orbi message:  Let us rejoice in the day of our salvation!  Open your heart to receive the grace of this day, Christ himself, the radiant “day” that dawned on humanity, a day of mercy, when God revealed his tenderness to the world.  A day of light that dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety.  A day of peace, that makes for encounter, dialogue, and reconciliation.  A day of joy for the poor, the lowly, and for all people.  Jesus the Savior is born of the Virgin Mary.  Like the shepherds, may we too set out to see this event.  Christmas is renewed in every family and community that receives God's love made flesh in Jesus Christ.  Like Mary, the Church shows everyone the “sign” of God:  the Child she bore who is Son of the Most High, Savior, Lamb of God.  With the shepherds, let us worship God’s goodness made flesh, and allow tears of repentance to fill our eyes and cleanse our hearts.  Only God's mercy can save us, can free humanity from the evil that selfishness spawns.  God's grace can convert us and offer us a way out.

Where God is born, hope and peace are born.  Where peace is born, there's no room for hatred or war.  But tensions and violence persist, and peace remains a gift to be implored and built.  To all who are persecuted for their faith, may Jesus grant consolation and strength.  Where hope is born, persons regain their dignity.  Yet many are deprived of their dignity and, like Jesus, suffer cold, poverty, and rejection.  May our closeness today be felt by the most vulnerable, especially child soldiers, women suffering violence, and victims of human trafficking and the drug trade.  May God repay all who work to provide assistance and welcome to migrants and refugees, who flee poverty or war, traveling in inhumane conditions, helping them build a dignified future and be integrated in the societies that receive them.  May the Lord grant hope to all without employment; may he sustain the commitment of those with public responsibilities, that they pursue the common good and protect the dignity of every human life.
Where God is born, mercy flourishes.  Mercy is the most precious gift God gives us; we're called to discover our Father's tender love.  May the Lord enable prisoners to experience his merciful love.  Rejoice in the day of our salvation, and gaze on Jesus' open arms...
Read

Night
  • Is 9:1-6  The people in darkness have seen a great light; they rejoice.  A son is born to us:  Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
  • Ps 96: 1-3, 11-13  "Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord."  Sing a new song of God's salvation; the Lord comes to rule with justice.
  • Ti 2:11-14  God's grace has appeared, saving, training us to live temperately, justly, and devoutly as we await the appearance of the glory of Christ.
  • Lk 2:1-14  Mary gave birth to a son.  An angel appeared to shepherds and said, “Fear not; I proclaim news of great joy for all:  a savior, Christ, and Lord has been born for you.  You'll find an infant in a manger.”  “Glory to God, and peace to those on whom God's favor rests.”
Dawn

  • Is 62:11-12  God proclaims, your savior comes!  They shall be called the redeemed of the Lord.
  • Ps 97:1, 6, 11-12  "A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us."  Rejoice; the Lord is king.  Light dawns for the just.  Be glad in the Lord, and give thanks.
  • Ti 3:4-7  When God's love graciously appeared, he saved us through rebirth and renewal by the Spirit, poured out on us through Jesus Christ, so we might be justified and become heirs of eternal life.
  • Lk 2:15-20  Shepherds went to Bethlehem and found Mary, Joseph, and the infant.  They made known the angel's message, the hearers were amazed.  Mary reflected on this in her heart.  They returned, praising God.
Daytime
  • Is 52:7-10  How beautiful those who bring glad tidings, announcing peace and salvation.  Sing out, for the Lord comforts and redeems his people.  All the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.
  • Ps 98:1-6  "All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God."  The Lord has revealed his salvation, justice, kindness, and faithfulness.  Sing praise!
  • Heb 1:1-6  Before, God spoke through the prophets; now he's spoken to us through the Son, heir of all, imprint of his being.  He's now at the Majesty's right hand, superior to angels.  Let all God's angels worship him.
  • Jn 1:1-18  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  All life came to be through him, and this life was the light of the human race, and darkness hasn't overcome it.  God sent John to testify to the light, so all might believe.  The true light came to what was his own.  The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  From his fullness we've received; while Moses gave the law, Jesus Christ brought grace and truth.  No one has seen God; the Son, at the Father’s side, revealed him.
Reflect
    • Creighton:  The good news came first to shepherds, who slept with their sheep and had waited centuries for the Messiah to save them.  The “people who walk in darkness” faced wars and brutal governments and wondered whether they'd ever be safe, but the Lord through Isaiah promised them hope and light.  The gospel tells of the government-ordered census.  Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem, leaving family and friends, and stay in a stable, where the humble shepherds straggled in.  We find “peace on earth” and Light in our lives if we embrace humility.  Imagine yourself in the midst of the smell and noise of the stable and shepherds, meet our Savior, and rejoice!
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Keep Christmas in Christ":  Jesus, born in a stable, laid in a manger, emptied of glory, and suffering, continues to be rejected.  Will I notice, even worship, him?  Will I put Christ ahead of Christmas and let him disrupt my life?
      Birth of Christ mural/ Bjorgen
      (more Nativity art)
    • Passionist:  Luke is the only synoptic gospel to develop the nativity event, and the only one to use the term “Savior.”  Mary and Joseph have to leave Nazareth for Bethlehem, about 80 miles, for the government census.  Israel was a land of anguish and destruction, forced deportation, filled with outcasts.  There was no room in the inn, a fenced in area for animals and their owners; the implication is that Mary and Joseph chose to stay in a stable, where there would be more privacy.  The first to know about Jesus' birth were shepherds, social outcasts, considered dishonest, lumped in with prostitutes and tax collectors.  The Shepherds announced to Mary and Joseph what the angels told them.  They proclaimed the good news to all they met and were filled with joy.  They were the first to preach the Good News of the Incarnation, poor, despised outcasts.  We're all called to hear and share the Good News.  Jesus was born in need, a prerequisite for the Reign of God.    Like Mary and Joseph, we get to Bethlehem by our routine family responsibilities.  Like the shepherds, we need to listen for God's messengers.  Through the Incarnation we're rescued from sin and restored to wholeness.  Through us God is made present to the outcasts.  Jesus saves us from destruction and self-isolation.  “The Incarnation is God’s search for humankind” (Barth).  We continue the search as we live out the mystery of God taking on human nature.  This continues Christmas.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "The shepherds glorified God for all they had seen":  Jesus' birth was good news!  The first to hear it were not the rulers and leaders but the humble ready to receive a king born in poverty and lying in a manger made for animals.  "Heaven and earth are united today, for Christ is born!  God has come upon earth, and humankind gone to heaven.  The invisible one is seen in the flesh.  Let us glorify him and cry, glory to God, and on earth peace!...   Light has shone on those in darkness, exalting the lowly.  Beholding fallen [Adam], Jesus and came down, taking up his dwelling in a virgin womb, that he might refashion him..."  (John the Monk, Stichera of the Nativity of the Lord).  We needed a savior to reconcile us with God.  "He became flesh for our sake and for our salvation."  The Word took flesh to show us God's love and mercy.  Today we celebrate present realities (Jesus our redeemer who reigns in heaven and who also lives and reigns in our hearts) and past events (Jesus' birth and manifestation), we thank and bless God for saving us, and celebrate the birthday of our King and Savior.  God wants to fill our hearts with joy and gratitude for the gift of his Son.  We praise and thank God for the Son's assuming human nature to accomplish our salvation.  Make haste like the shepherds to adore Jesus.  Christ  is our good shepherd who guides and cares for us and gives us life and union with God.  Heaven joins with all believers in a song of praise.  Christmas joy is eternal, not just for a day or season; it's the joy of Jesus himself made present in us through the Spirit.  The Lord gives us joy that no pain nor sorrow can diminish, and which nothing can take away.
    Dress legend


  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  They name him Prince of Peace (night 1st reading); how beautiful those announcing peace and saying... (day 1st reading)
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  • 'Crown' tie bar:  ...“Your God is King!” (day 1st reading, dawn psalm); Child confirms/sustains his kingdom (night 1st reading)


  • 'Olympics' tie pin:  All the ends of the earth will behold/have seen the salvation by our God (day 1st reading/psalm); the Lord proclaims the Savior to the ends of the earth (dawn 1st reading)

  • 'Musical note' tie pin:  Sing to the Lord a new song (day psalm, night psalm)

  • 'Hand' tie pin:  The Lord's right hand has won victory (day psalm)

  • 'Angel' pin:  To which angel did God say, You are my son...; Let the angels worship him (day 2nd reading); angel appeared to shepherds (night gospel)

  • 'Christmas lights' tie:  Life came through the Word, the light of the human race, shining in darkness (day gospel); A light will shine on us this day (dawn psalm); the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light (night 1st reading)

  • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  He saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Spirit (dawn 2nd reading)

  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  Shepherds:  "Let us go to Bethlehem..." (dawn gospel); there were shepherds in the fields (night gospel)

  • 'Mary,' 'girl with heart' pins:  Mary kept these things, reflecting on them in her heart (dawn gospel)

  • St. Nicholas suspenders

  • 'Happy birthday, Jesus' pin:  Nativity of our Lord!

  • 'No-L' pin:  Christmas!

  • 'Tree' pin:  Trees shall exult for the Lord comes (night psalm)

  • 'Abacus' tie pin:  Census (night gospel)