December 25, 2019


December 25, 2019:  Nativity of the Lord

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Legend below

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

Christmas [Eve] Night homily:  God’s grace brings salvation to all and shines on our world tonight.  This grace is his love, that changes lives, renews history, liberates from evil, and fills hearts with peace and joy.  This love is revealed to us as Jesus:  the Most High made himself tiny, so that we might love him.  In a world where everything seems to be about giving in order to get, God came down freely; his love is non-negotiable.

God continues to love us all, even the worst of us, because we're precious in his eyes.  His love is unconditional.  How often do we think God is good if we are but punishes us if we're bad?  But his love is patient and faithful, not fickle.  Grace and beauty are synonyms.  In the beauty of God’s love, we discover our beauty, for we're God's beloved, beautiful for what we are, not what we do.

Contemplate the Child and be caught up in his tender love.  Ask, “Do I allow myself to be loved by God? Do I abandon myself to his love?”  Accepting grace means being ready to give thanks.  Draw near the tabernacle, the crèche, and say thank you.  Receive the gift that is Jesus, and become gift like Jesus, give meaning to life, and change the world.  Jesus didn't change history with words but by his life.  He didn't wait until we were good before loving us.  Similarly, we shouldn't wait for people to be good before we do good, for the Church to be perfect before we love her, for others to respect us before we serve them.  When we accept the gift of grace, we begin with ourselves.  At Jesus' birth, shepherds hurried to the stable with gifts, but there was one who was poor with nothing to give. Seeing that embarrassed empty-handed shepherd, Mary put Baby Jesus in his arms.

Urbi et orbi message:  “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”  The light of Christ is greater than the darkness in human hearts, greater than the darkness in personal, family, and social relationships, greater than the darkness in economic, geopolitical and ecological conflicts.

Lord, comfort the beloved Syrian people who see no end to the hostilities.   May governments and the international community find solutions that let them live together in peace and security, and end their sufferings.  Bring consolation to Iraq in its tensions and Yemen in its humanitarian crisis.  May the Babe bring hope to the American continent, where many nations are in upheaval.  May the beloved Venezuelan people receive the aid they need.

May he bless those who promote justice and reconciliation and work to overcome the crises and poverty that offend the dignity of each person.  May the Redeemer bring light to Ukraine, which yearns for an enduring peace.  May the Son of God protect and sustain all forced to emigrate.  May the Redeemer console all who suffer because of violence, natural disasters, or disease.  May he comfort those persecuted for their faith, especially the kidnapped, and to victims of attacks.

May Emmanuel bring light to all the suffering.  May he soften our hearts and make them channels of his love.  May he bring his smile, through our faces, to all children, to the abandoned, and those who suffer violence.  Through our hands may he clothe those with nothing to wear, give bread to the hungry, and heal the sick.  Through our friendship, may he draw close to the elderly and lonely, to migrants and the marginalized, and bring his tenderness to all and brighten the world's darkness.



  • 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:  Many call for putting Christ back in Christmas because Jesus' birth has been sentimentalized to the point that it's just a non-threatening story of an innocent baby drawing shepherds and angels to a stable to announce peace and goodwill.  But for others, the message of salvation is hidden behind packages under a tree and the Light is obscured by twinkling lights.  Do we sing the “new song” to announce the Lord's salvation?  How can that Baby rule the earth with justice?  Are we really prepared for God's saving grace?  What if we were confronted by a light so bright that we'd be struck by fear?  Can we grasp the good news that comes to all in the birth of Christ?  Can we grasp the power of light so bright that it illuminates God's justice, brings judgment and peace, illuminates the Lord's glory, what he can do for us, and what we can do in response?  Each child born into poverty can be the face of God.  The Baby comes to all forced to conform to unjust laws and migrate away from their homes.   The Light helps us see the face of God in all parents who struggle to provide safety and a future for their children.  That light strikes fear in us when we consider that what we've seen calls us to action.  May we be struck by great joy and inspired by hope as we gaze into the Light and share its peace with others....
    Birth of Christ mural/ Bjorgen
    (more Nativity art)
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Footprints":  Parents spend much time gazing at their babies.  Jesus took flesh and became a Baby so we may relate to him as we couldn't before.  As you contemplate Baby Jesus, reflect on his beautiful feet.  He traveled dusty roads to proclaim the Good News.  He let the penitent woman wash his feet so we'd know love overcomes a multitude of sins. He let his feet be pierced and nailed to a cross and bleed for our salvation; his feet pushed painfully upon the nails as he breathed to speak his last words.  Choose the better portion:  sit at his feet and listen.
  • Passionist"Softening of heart":  We may still be praying, “ransom captive Israel” as :  for the disparity of wealth grows deeper, and terrorism, violence, and political turmoil continue.  Throughout Advent we've pondered the paradox of wolf as lamb's guest, desert blooming with flowers, and crooked ways made straight.  Imagine insignificant Bethlehem in a violent Rome-dominated world, a young refugee couple giving birth in a stable, transforming the world, and a threatened monarch ordering a massacre of infants.  As often as we celebrate Christmas amid fear and insecurity, the root of Jesse, beacon of hope for all, calls us.  Today I pray for a softening of heart.  “I can be the change I want to see in the world” (Gandhi).
  •  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

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