Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
by Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD,
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Based on the Scriptural Readings for vigil Masses Midnight and and Christmas Day 2009
These words of the well know Christmas Carol written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
“Joy to the World, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing” could not express the feeling we all should be having this blessed day nor the mission we have been called to live by the birth of this infant child called Jesus of Nazareth.
On Christmas day there are three sets of readings, one for the Midnight Mass, another for the mass at dawn and the third for the later mass of the day. There is also a special reading for vigil masses held earlier in the evening of December 24th.
When you combine them all they provide us with the very powerful truth and reason for living according to God‘s will.
John 1 begins with these words “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
These words remind us that Christ came from God, and is God and that He took on the human form in the same manner as every other human being ever born or to be born, as an infant. He came into this world in the same way as well, being born of a woman.
Let us try to understand the darkness that seems to encompass so many today.
I believe that God chose this way in order to let us know that we are all created in His image and we all have a job do to in this world for God.
God has given us free choice therefore we can not accept the job He wishes us to do if that is our choice.
There is so much symbolism in the miracle of Christmas. God chose simple people, not the rich and famous. Christ was born in a poor stable filled with the animals of the farmers and travelers.
The announcement of Christ’s birth was not to the great and mighty or the High priests but to simple shepherds. God did this to let us know that he calls everyone not just the rich and famous.
Didn’t Christ say “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:23-25
The readings also provide us with the purpose of Christ’s coming to earth; “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”. We are called to live sensibly, to be generous, kind, and not to discriminate. Somehow that message seems to be lost on many people today.
Everywhere we hear of news of people who steal, rape, murder and let us not forget wage wars all in search of money, power and domination at the expense of others.
We are supposed to be the caretakers of God’s creation but many do not take that God given responsibility seriously.
We have been charged by God to care for this planet earth and all God’s creatures yet we are destroying the ecosystem that God created because it is cheaper and more profitable than using alternative energies that are possible.
“Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and encourage and reprimand all authorities. Let no one take no notice of you.” Titus 2:11-15
Jesus told us the way we should live and that message was “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and body and love your neighbor as you love yourself”
God so loved the world that He gave His only son to us. There is no greater gift anyone could ever receive so what gift are we giving God on this His birthday?
The perfect gift would be to be kind, considerate, loving, caring, forgiving, charitable, and respectful of the differences that God has created in all things. We might worship God more and talk with him which is called praying.
The reading from Hebrews lets us know that even the angels are to worship Christ and that His kingdom will last forever.
"Let all God's angels worship him. In speaking of the angels he says, He makes his angels winds,
his servants flames of fire. But about the Son he says, Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,
and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Hebrews 1:6-9
On this Christmas day of 2009 let us follow the directions of the angels who announced the Good News to the shepherds watching their flocks. “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
Let us try to be persons God will be pleased, so that we can fully enjoy the peace and joy the birth of God’s son celebrated this day.
Let us return God’s gift to us by being more tolerant of the differences in others, charitable in giving to organizations and people in need. Let us be concerned about the homeless, sick, poor, aged and disabled of the world.
Let us speak out against injustice, war, and greed. In short, let us make a difference in the world and make it a better place tomorrow than it is today.
By doing this we will affirm that indeed there is “Joy in the world because the Lord has come and instilled in us His way so that we have become His instrument here on earth to bring about the promised peace of Christ.”
May the promise of Christmas fill you with comfort and peace and may that peace be extended from you to all you encounter.
Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus
All Materials are copywriten (c) Franciscans of Divine Mercy