Feast of the Birth of Our Lord
The third section of Isaiah supplies the first lesson. To understand the reading, it helps to be aware of the historical context surrounding the composition of this part of Isaiah. God’s Chosen People had been through very much in the past century or so. Their land, regarded by the devout as sacred because God gave it to the people, was conquered by invading pagans and defiled.
The ensuing turmoil destroyed the social structure. Political independence was gone, totally. Untold numbers of people were killed. Many survivors were taken to Babylon, the capital of their Babylonian Empire, where they languished for four generations, far from their homeland and compelled to live in an atmosphere greatly unfriendly to their religion, scornful of all that they cherished.
At long last, this enforced exile ended, but returning to the Holy Land was a hollow achievement. The land was poor and unproductive. Misery reigned.
For much of this time, personal want and abuse defined this misery. Despair, deprivation, and rage were everywhere. The prophets, such as the author of this writing, saw deprivation in another dimension, gnawing distress within human hearts longing for genuine peace, hope, and a sense of strength and worth resulted from sin.
This piercing anguish was not inevitable, believed the prophet. Relief followed realizing the reality of the almighty God of Israel, the source of all peace, joy, and hope, and by living accordingly. Nothing else worked.
For its second reading, the Church offers a passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews. This epistle is a marvelous revelation of God as the Trinity, and of Jesus, as Son of God, the true and full reflection on earth of the Father.
In the third reading, the Church presents the first eighteen verses of the Gospel of John. Each of the four Gospels has its own literary majesty, and in particular, inspired insight into the reality of Jesus and salvation, but none outdoes John for eloquence, and few passages in the long Gospel of John excel the literary glory of these first eighteen verses.
These verses, read in today’s Masses, are magnificent because of the soaring and profound wording by which they present the person and mission of Jesus. He is God’s wondrous gift to humankind, given in God’s eternal and unending love. He reigns in a realm far beyond the human ability to comprehend.
Only in Jesus does existence have meaning, order, purpose, and a future. He is the light of the world. He is eternal. He is life. He is everything.
No holiday in this society, or in many others, equals Christmas, not Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, or Memorial Day.
When all the celebrations have ended, and all the gifts opened, it is good to pause and to ask if Advent had any effect on me? Am I closer to the Lord? Does Jesus, born 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, live in me, in my behavior, words, and thinking?
Usually without much thought, many people during this season, and on this day, proclaim their dedication to Christ and their belief that the Precious Blood of Jesus, shed on Calvary, rescued them from eternal death, that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, by wearing red coats, or shirts, or scarves, or caps.
Red is the Christian color, symbolizing Christ, crucified for the salvation of all. Red has no reference whatsoever to a baby boy, or Bethlehem, yet it is the primary color of Christmas.
Celebrating this unique day, ask why is Christmas so special? Do we wear the Christian red sincerely? Is Christ truly my Savior, and Lord, born for me in my time?
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