December 25, 2018

Christmas

December 25, 2018:  Nativity of the Lord

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

"Night Mass" homily:  'Bethlehem' means 'house of bread,' and Mary laid Jesus in a manger, as if he wanted to say, "Here I am, as your food."  Jesus gives himself to us, teaching us to live not by devouring and hoarding but sharing and giving.  We feed on Jesus, Bread of Life, and are reborn in love, breaking the vicious cycle of grasping and greed.  Humanity’s original sin was to take and eat forbidden food.  We became greedy and voracious, but the food of life is not material riches, gluttony, or ostentation but love, charity, and simplicity.  Jesus knows we need to be fed daily, so he offered himself every day of his life.  Today too, he becomes bread broken for us.  If we welcome God, history changes.  Once Jesus dwells in our heart, the center of life is no longer ego but the One born for love.  Jesus invites us to rise from the table and serve others, sharing our bread.

On Christmas night, shepherds welcomed Jesus.  An angel said, “Fear not.”  We hear that phrase so often in the Gospels because God knows we sinners are afraid.  Bethlehem is the remedy, because despite our no’s, God-with-us says yes.  God makes himself a child so as not to frighten us.

The shepherds were keeping watch, not sleeping, when the angel came.  Our life can be marked by waiting or wanting.  If we await the Lord amid our problems, we'll receive his life, but if we spend our lives in selfish want, we'll be closed to God’s light.  The shepherds set out immediately and took a risk by leaving their flocks unguarded.  After seeing Jesus, they proclaimed his birth.  Keeping watch, setting out, risking, and recounting the beauty are all acts of love.  The road to Bethlehem is uphill:  the heights of our selfishness need to be surmounted, and we must not lose our footing or slide into worldliness and consumerism.  Take me upon your shoulders, Good Shepherd; loved by you, I'll be able to love others....

Urbi et orbi message:  Halt in wonder like the shepherds, and worship.  The Christmas message is about a child who came to tell us that God is a good Father and we're all brothers and sisters.  Without Jesus’ gift of fraternity, what we do to build a more just world would be soulless and empty.  So my wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity.

I wish for fraternity among all.  Jesus revealed God’s face through a human face.  The variety and differences we experience are a source of richness, like the variety of tiles in the hands of a mosaic artist.  God binds us together and is the foundation and strength of our fraternity.

May Israelies and Palestinians resume dialogue and the path to peace.  May Syrians find fraternity; may those who have fled be able to return home.  May the Yemen truce hold and bring relief.  In Africa, may the King of Peace silence the clash of arms and allow fraternity to rise over the continent.  In the Korean peninsula, may fraternal bonds set in motion this year consolidate.  May Venezuelans recover social harmony so as to work fraternally toward the country’s development.  In the Ukraine, may the Newborn Lord bring relief the lasting peace possible only through respect for the rights of every nation.  May Nicaraguans see themselves again as brothers and sisters through reconciliation and building Nicaragua’s future together.

May freedom and identity be restored where compromised through modern forms of colonization....  May all live peacefully through respect for religious freedom.  May the Child watch over all children and every frail, vulnerable, and discarded person.  May all receive peace and consolation.  Through the Savior's birth we know the Father loves us.  May we realize we're all brothers and sisters and live as such.

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.
  • 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 side by side with their sheep, carrying their smell, and so would have been less than welcomed in the town market.  They were reassured (“Fear not”) and invited to seek out the baby and be the first to meet him.  Israel had been waiting for the Messiah who would save them from their hard life.  Isaiah writes of a “people who walk in darkness” and a “land of gloom.”  The people in Isaiah’s and Jesus’ times faced war and wondered if they'd ever be safe, but Isaiah promises them, and us, hope.  The gospel describes how the oppressive Roman government ordered a census.  Joseph and Mary made the journey, arduous for a pregnant woman, leaving family and friends to comply.  They had to stay in a stable, where, exhausted, Mary gave birth, and the dirty shepherds straggled in.  As we celebrate, may we too embrace humility and so find “peace on earth” and the Light shining into our lives. Jesus has come for the challenging moments as well as the wonderful ones.  When I'm disappointed, angry, or frustrated, may I remember how much Jesus longs to hold and love me; he's not waiting for me to behave better.  Imagine yourself amid the smell and noise of the stable and shepherds, meet your Savior, and rejoice.
    Birth of Christ mural/ Bjorgen
    (more Nativity art)
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Messenger from heaven":  Today we celebrate the feet of Jesus, Messenger from heaven, who gave us the good news:  divine revelation, and the Church, his Body.  In the past, people longed for news of loved ones but needed a messenger. We long for news from heaven but need the Messenger. Jesus is the One sent from heaven, who knows what he's saying . Believe him, sit at his feet, and listen to, believe, and obey him.
  • Passionist:  If today’s dinner were the last one with your family, what would you say?  It wasn’t accidental that our savior was born to a poor then-homeless peasant of an occupied country in an animal stall.  The Holy Family became refugees and had to flee their country because the most powerful political ruler felt threatened by Christ's coming.  How does the Light penetrate our darkness?  God isn’t stingy, miserly, angry, or grumpy; he wants to lavish us with light and love....
  • DailyScripture.net:  "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 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 the Lord before their eyes (day 1st reading)
  • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  They name the child 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); let the earth rejoice (night psalm)
  • 'Musical notes with "joy"' pin:  You have brought them abundant joy (night 1st reading); let the plains and all in them be joyful (night psalm); let the earth rejoice (day psalm); I proclaim good news of great joy (night gospel); your sentinels shout for joy (day 1st reading);
  • '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)
  • 'Prize' pin:  Here is his reward with him (dawn 1st reading)
  • 'Train' tie bar:  God's grace saved all and trains us to live temperately, justly, and devoutly (night 2nd reading)
  • 'Angel with trumpet,' 'horn' pins:  God's son is superior to the angels; let the angels worship him (day 2nd reading); angel appeared to shepherds (night gospel); sing to the Lord with trumpets and the sound of the horn... (day psalm); the angels went away from them to heaven (dawn gospel)
  • 'Christmas lights' tie:  Life, the light of the human race, came through the Word (day gospel); a light will shine on us (dawn psalm); the people have seen a great light (night 1st reading); the Lord's glory shone around the shepherds (night gospel)
  • 'Dove' pin:  He saved us through... 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); gladness dawns for the upright of heart (dawn psalm)
  • '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