December 25, 2017


December 25, 2017:  Christmas

See about 3 dozen connections with today?
Legend below

From Handel's Messiah
    Christmas psalms
Jason Silver renditions
For future Christmas season celebrations
Pope Francis

Homily:  Mary gave us Jesus, Light of the world.  Everything that night became a source of hope.  Because of the Emperor's census decree, Mary and Joseph set out, leaving their people, home, and land, to be registered. They were full of expectation because of the child to be born but weighed down by uncertainty and danger.  They found a land not expecting them with no place for them.  Where everything was a challenge, Mary gave us Emmanuel.  Amid the gloom of a bustling city turning its back on them, the revolutionary spark of God’s love was kindled; a chink opened up for those who have lost land, country, and dreams; even those asphyxiated from isolation.  Many other footsteps are hidden in Joseph and Mary's:  families forced to set out today, driven from their land, leaving loved ones, to survive today's Herods, who see no problem shedding blood.

Mary and Joseph are the first to embrace the One who comes to give us our papeles, who in poverty and humility demonstrates that power and freedom are shown in honoring and assisting the weak.  The One who had no place to be born is proclaimed to those who had no place at table or in the streets:  the shepherds who had to live on the edge of society.  Unable to observe the prescriptions of ritual purification, they were considered unclean, kept at a distance, and feared.  Their skin, clothing, smell, speech, and origin betrayed them and generated mistrust.  They were considered pagans, sinners, foreigners.  But the angel says, “Fear not; I bring you news of great joy:  to you is born the Savior, Messiah, and Lord.”  God has embraced pagans, sinners, and foreigners and demands we do the same.

Our faith shows God's presence where we think he's absent:  in the unwelcome visitor who rides our buses and knocks on our doors.  Faith impels us to not fear new forms of relationship, in which no one has to feel there's no room for them.  Turn fear into charity, power for a new imagination of charity with courage to offer hospitality.  “Fear not!  Open wide the doors for Christ!”  In the Child, God comes to meet us, make us active sharers in life, and offer himself so we may lift and embrace him and not be afraid to raise up and embrace the thirsty, strangers, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned.  God invites us to be messengers of hope, sentinels for all bowed down by closed doors.  God makes us agents of his hospitality.  O Babe, may your crying open our eyes to the suffering.  May your tenderness help us see you in all who arrive in our cities, histories, and lives, and be agents of hope and tenderness.  Full text

Urbi et orbi:  Jesus was born of Mary by the gift of our Father's love.  Today we relive the mystery of the God who comes, assumes our mortal flesh, and becomes lowly and poor to save us, so great his tenderness.  The humble, watchful shepherds, who recognized the angels' sign and adored the Child, are an example for believers:  don't let Jesus' poverty scandalize you, but like Mary trust in God’s word and contemplate his glory.  Before the Word made flesh, confess, “We've beheld his glory, as of the only-begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Christmas invites us to focus on the Child and recognize him in children's faces, especially those for whom “there's no place in the inn.”  We see Jesus in children who suffer because of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.  We pray for peace for Jerusalem and all the Holy Land.  We pray dialogue may resume, a solution be negotiated, and the land find harmony, justice, and security.  We see Jesus in Syrian children marked by war.  May Syria respect the dignity of every person and rebuild society.  We see Jesus in Iraqi and Yemeni children torn by conflict.  We see Jesus in suffering children of Africa.  We see Jesus in children wherever peace and security are threatened.  We pray confrontation be overcome on the Korean peninsula.  We entrust Venezuela to Baby Jesus that it may resume dialogue.  We see Jesus in children who suffer from violence in Ukraine; may the Lord soon grant peace.  We see Jesus in the children of unemployed parents who struggle to provide a secure, peaceful future, and in those who have been forced to work or be enrolled as soldiers.  We see Jesus in children forced to leave their countries in inhuman conditions and become an easy target for traffickers.  Jesus knows the pain of not being welcomed and how hard it is not to have a place to lay your head.

The sign of Christmas has been revealed to us: “a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes.”  Like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, may we welcome God's love made flesh and commit ourselves to making our world more human and more worthy for all children.  May the Savior's birth renew hearts, awaken the desire to build a future of greater fraternity and solidarity, and bring everyone joy and hope.


  • 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.”

  • 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.
  • 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:  God’s coming is past, present, and future.  We're not just hanging out till God comes in glory.  Jesus’ arrival was the beginning of our maturing relationship with God as we learn to be people of peace and justice.  In Jesus, the birthing of God arrives for all time and space in the wonder-full ordinariness of a young Jewish woman.  God comes to us in a small gift, a vulnerable baby who invites our maturing in ordinary places like home and work; notice small things like the desire to forgive and reconcile.  We might look to those who need refuge, shelter, food, and work.  How can I make a difference in someone’s life?  “If Christ is growing in us, if we're at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it He is forming himself; if we go with eager wills, ‘in haste,’ to wherever our circumstances compel us, because we believe He desires to be there, we'll find we're driven more and more to act on the impulse of His love.  And the answer we'll get from others to those impulses will be an awakening into life, or the leap into joy of the life within them.  It's only necessary to give ourselves to that life (growing within us)…to pray without ceasing... by a growing awareness that Christ is being formed in our lives from what we are. We must trust him for this…” (Houselander, The Reed of God).  May Christ find a welcome home in our hearts today and beyond.  Celebrating, Desires, On the manger, Prayers
    Birth of Christ mural/ Bjorgen
    (more Nativity art)
  • One Bread, One Body:  "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation" We can have peace and harmony through God's salvation.  The God-King is also the Infant-King, our Peace and Savior, become Son of Man so we may become God's children sharing the divine nature when we accept him on his terms as Savior, King, Lord, and God.  "Any who accepted him he empowered to become God's children."
  • Passionist:  My favorite image of the Annunciation is a painting by Tanner:  Mary glances with fear and wonder at a shaft of light; the bedclothes are disheveled, perhaps mirroring Mary's doubt, confusion, and assent to the messenger’s request.  Incarnation is a present reality; God’s Light wants to pierce our darkness this Christmas, now, here.  See those around you as icons of the Body of Christ; expand your world with the Incarnation of God’s love again, here and now.
  •  "The shepherds glorified God":  Jesus' birth fulfilled the prophecy that the Messiah would descend from David and be born in Bethlehem.  The first to hear the news of the savior's birth were not the rulers and leaders but the humble ready to receive him. Just as God chose lowly shepherd David to become shepherd king, so Jesus chose lowliness and came as the shepherd king to lay down his life for us.  After the angels sang in the shepherds' presence, the shepherds adored the newborn king and sang.
"Heaven and earth are united, for Christ is born!  God has come upon earth, and we've gone up to heaven. The invisible one is seen in the flesh.  Glorify him and cry, glory to God, and on earth peace!  I hear the angels:  glory to God whose pleasure it was that there be peace!  The Virgin is more spacious than the heavens.  Light has shone on those in darkness, exalting the lowly:  Glory to God!  Beholding Adam who was in God’s image but fell, Jesus came down, taking up his dwelling in a virgin womb, that he might refashion Adam fallen in corruption, and crying out, glory to your epiphany, my Savior and God!" (John the Monk, Hymn of the Nativity of the Lord)
We needed a savior to reconcile us with God. The Word became flesh for us to show us God's love and mercy for us sinners.  We celebrate Jesus Christ our redeemer who reigns in heaven and in in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and we commemorate the birth of the newborn Messiah King. We praise God for how he saved us by sending his son.  God wants to fill us with joy and gratitude for the gift of his Son.  God freely assumed a human nature to save us.  Jesus came to release us from slavery to sin and open heaven's gates. The Spirit invites us to adore Jesus our King, our good shepherd, who guides and cares for us and gives us everlasting life and union with God.  Today heaven joins with all believers in a song of praise.  "To you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord."  Christmas joy isn't just for today or the season; it's forever.  It's the joy of Jesus given to us through the Spirit; no one can take it away, and no pain nor sorrow can diminish it....
Dress legend
  • 'Blood drop,' 'fire' pins:  Every cloak rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for flames (night 1st reading)
  • 'Boundless mercy' button:  God's generous love appeared, not because of any righteous deeds but because of his mercy (dawn 2nd reading)
  • 'Alps,' 'feet' pins:  How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings (day 1st reading)
  • 'Eyeball' pin:  Your sentinels see, before their eyes, the Lord restoring Zion (day 1st reading)
  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  They name him Prince of Peace (night 1st reading); how beautiful those announcing peace and saying... (day 1st reading)
  • '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 salvation... (day 1st reading, psalm); the Lord proclaims the Savior to the ends of the earth (dawn 1st reading)
  • 'Clef' 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); the Son took his seat at God's right hand (day 2nd reading)
  • 'Angel with trumpet' 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); sing before the Lord with trumpets... (day psalm); the angels went away from them to heaven (dawn 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); the Lord's glory shone around the shepherds (night gospel)
  • 'Dove' pin:  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); shepherds were keeping watch over their flock (night gospel)
  • 'Mary,' 'heart' pins:  'They found Mary, Joseph, and the infant..."; "Mary kept these things, reflecting on them in her heart" (dawn gospel)
  • 'Happy birthday, Jesus' pin:  Nativity of our Lord!
  • 'No-"L"' button:  Joyeux Noël!
  • 'Tree' pin:  Trees shall exult for the Lord comes (night psalm)
  • 'Abacus' tie pin:  Census (night gospel)
  • White shirt:  Liturgical color of Christmas

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