December 25, 2014


December 25, 2014:  Christmas Day

  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  They name him Prince of Peace (1st reading n); how beautiful those who announce peace (1st reading midday)
  • 'Tree' pin:  The trees shall exult for the Lord comes (psalm night)
  • 'Abacus' tie pin:  Census (gospel night)
  • 'Sheep' tie bar:  Shepherds in the fields (gospel night, dawn)
  • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  He saved us through ... renewal by the Holy Spirit (2nd reading dawn)
  • 'Angel' pin: God spoke through the Son; to which angel did God say...? (2nd reading midday)

From Handel's Messiah

Pope Francis
Christmas midnight homily :  “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”  “An angel appeared and the Lord's glory shone.”  Tonight's liturgy presents the Savior's birth as light piercing and dispelling darkness.  The Lord's presence cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery and ushers in joy and happiness.  We've come to God's house, passing through darkness, guided by the flame of faith and enlivened by hope.  By opening our hearts, we can contemplate the child-sun.  Since the dark moment when envious Cain killed his brother, time has been marked by violence, hatred, and oppression, but God waited patiently.  The light reveals God's fidelity is stronger than darkness.  This is the Christmas message.  God is always there, like the prodigal father, waiting to see the lost son returning.

Isaiah announced the rising of a light. This light is born in Bethlehem and is welcomed by Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. When the angels announced the Redeemer's birth to the shepherds, they did so with these words: “This will be a sign for you: you'll find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” The sign is God's humility taken to the extreme; it's the love that assumed our frailty, suffering, anxieties, desires, and limitations. The message was God's tenderness: God accepts our poverty, is in love with our smallness, and looks on us with eyes full of love.
How do I welcome God's tenderness?  Do I allow him to embrace me, or keep him from drawing close?  Allowing him to find and caress me is more important than seeking him.  Do I allow God to love me?  Do I have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties of those near me, or do I prefer impersonal solutions devoid of the Gospel's warmth.  The world needs tenderness!
Our response must be the same as God’s response to our smallness.  Meet life with goodness and meekness.  When we realize God made himself small to encounter us better, we can't help but to open our hearts to him, and beg, “Help me be like you, give me tenderness in difficult circumstances, give me the grace of closeness and meekness in the face of every need and conflict.”  “O Mary, show us Jesus!”
Urbi et orbi:  Happy Christmas!  Humble people hope in God's goodness and welcome Jesus.  The Spirit enlightened the shepherds to adore him and led elderly Simeon and Anna to to the temple to recognize him as the Messiah.  Jesus is the salvation for every person!
Savior, look upon our brothers and sisters in Iraq and Syria; bring them hope, as also to displaced persons, exiles, refugees, children, adults, and elderly, throughout the world. May the suffering receive help to overcome the rigors of winter and live with dignity. Open hearts to trust, and bestow peace on the Middle East. Protect all who suffer in Ukraine, give peace to Nigeria and the rest of Africa. Save victims of violence, objects of trade and trafficking, and people forced to become soldiers. Comfort the families of the children killed in Pakistan. Be close to all the sick.
My thoughts turn to children who are killed and ill-treated, be they killed in the womb, displaced due to war and persecution, abused, or massacred.
Holy Spirit, enlighten us, that we may recognize in the Infant Jesus, the salvation God has given each of us.  May Christ's power, which brings freedom and service, be felt in hearts afflicted by war, persecution, and slavery.  May God's power, by its meekness, soften the hearts of people immersed in worldliness and indifference.  May his redeeming strength transform arms into plowshares, destruction into creativity, hatred into love and tenderness.  Then we'll cry out, “Our eyes have seen your salvation.”

Wordle: Readings 12-25-14 midnight
  • 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.”

Wordle: Readings 12-25-14 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.
Wordle: Readings 12-25-14 daytimeDaytime
  • 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.
    • Creighton:  Night Mass:  Night Mass:  "a child is born for us" prophesy; gospel of finding no room in inn and giving birth in stable.  Dawn gospel:  shepherds who heard angels' message also go to the stable.  Daytime gospel:  John's prologue, how “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  A giver wants the receiver to receive both gift and his message.  Today's Giver, Sender, Revealer, Wrapper, Lover, came to us to be received; we're asked to unwrap what the Teller is saying about life.  When I take Jesus tenderly and seriously, I take myself and you tenderly and seriously too.  The Gift of Christmas is harder to take in than hankies or socks.  The Timeless took on time and space; let's time to receive just what we can, but there is always more to be unwrapped and received. Imagine that!
    • One Bread One Body:  On Christmas, we celebrate that God, already a human being inside Mary, was born.  He could be held, kissed, touched, seen, and heard—and hurt, rejected, and crucified.  We can still relate to Jesus personally:  we can love him, or refuse to make room for him.
      • Passionist:  Luke is the only synoptic gospel to develop the nativity event and to use the term "Savior."  Luke tells us that when it was time for Mary to give birth, there was no room for them in the inn (a fenced area for animals and their owners).  The implication is that Mary and Joseph chose to stay in a stable, where there's more privacy.  Luke tells us the first to know about the birth were shepherds, outcasts of society, classified with prostitutes and tax collectors.  They announced to Mary and Joseph what the angels told them.  They proclaimed the good news to all they met and were filled with joy.  The first to preach the Incarnation were these poor, despised outcasts.  We get to Bethlehem by our routine family responsibilities (like Mary and Joseph) and listening to God's messengers of God (like the shepherds did).  We're rescued from sin and alienation from God.  Through us God is made present to outcasts.  Jesus, who became one with us, saves us.
      •  We needed a savior who could reconcile us with God.  The joy of Christmas is eternal, not for a day or season. It's the joy of Jesus Christ made present through the Spirit who dwells in us.

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