Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Reflection

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Christmas is a very special time in the universal church and one of the two celebrations where there are more than one set of reading. The celebration begins with the vigil mass the evening before Christmas Day, and then the Midnight Mass, the Dawn Mass and the Masses during the day. Each of these masses have a separate set of readings and combined they give a full telling of the prophesies foretelling the coming of the redeemer or Promised one and the events leading up to the actual birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Isaac Watts who lived from 1674-1748 wrote the following words; “Joy to the World, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing” I cannot think of any more appropriate words to express the feeling we all should be having this blessed day or the mission we all have been called to live our lives daily by the birth of this infant child called Jesus of Nazareth. As I stated at the beginning of this reflection, Christmas day there are three sets of readings, one for the Midnight Mass, another for the mass at 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.” John reminds us that Christ came from God, and is God and that He took on the human form in the same manner as every 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. God gave us free choice therefore we can refuse to accept the job He wishes us to do if we so choose. There is so much symbolism in the miracle of Christmas. God chose simple people, a carpenter and a humble Jewish woman, not the royalty or the rich and famous. Christ was born in a poor stable filled with farmer’s animals which were the source of his warmth on a bed of hay laid out in a feeding troth. The announcement of Christ’s birth was not to the great and mighty or the priests of the temple but to simple shepherds. God did this to let us know that he calls and loves everyone as he created them and not just the powerful, rich and famous. Christ even told us “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 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 against one another for any reason. Sadly, somehow that message seems to have been lost on many people today. People seem to be motivated more for material things than for Spiritual gifts. Everywhere we hear of news that depresses us and causes to wonder where God is in all this like the terrible tragedy that occurred in Newtown Connecticut and of people who steal Christmas gifts from people especially gifts that have been collected for those who are in need, and we hear of wars that seem to be raging in order to gain wealth, property, money, power or domination at the expense of others. Rest assured, God is here, he is near but we need to seek him out and not be ashamed to express our trust, faith and love of him. We need to always make time for God in our daily lives not just when tragedy strikes. Christ came into this world to clear up the mess that humans in their frailty and imperfect state have made of God’s creation and will. 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 when 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 in these words; “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 we can ever receive than the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of everlasting life we gained by Christ’s coming into the world and his wiliness to suffer, die and resurrect in accordance with the scriptures. Now I ask you, what gift are you planning to give Christ 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 involve God more in our daily lives by talking with him often called praying. In the reading from Hebrews we read 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 servant’s 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 2012 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 people God will be pleased with, so that we can fully enjoy the peace and joy the birth of the son of God that this day celebrates. 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, unemployed, sick, poor, aged and disabled of the world. Let us raise our voices 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 for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. By doing this we will affirm there is “Joy in the world because the Lord has come and instilled in us His way so we have become His instrument here on earth working hard 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.

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