Posted by: matt25 | December 25, 2009

Relection on Christmas Day Scriptures

In John Shea’s book “The Hour of the Unexpected” he shares a little story called Sharon’s Christmas prayer:

She was five, sure of the facts, and recited them with slow solemnity convinced every word was revelation. She said…

They were so poor that they only had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat and they were a long way from home without getting lost.

The lady rode a donkey, the man walked, and the baby was inside the lady.

They had to stay in a stable with an ox and an ass (hee-hee)… but the three rich men found them because a star lited the roof.

Shepherds came and you could pet the sheep but not feed them.

Then the baby was borned. And do you know who he was?

(Her quarter eyes inflated to silver dollars.) The Baby was God!!!

And she jumped into the air whirled round, dove into the sofa and buried her head under the cushion which is the only proper response to the Good News of the Incarnation.

I love the way this story helps to illustrate the joy that we can feel if we allow ourselves to “enter in” the Christ event. An event so momentous that even the calendar we use to measure the passage of time marks this moment as its starting point.

Christmas should cause our eyes to grow large just by thinking about it, and if we get it… We should leap in the air and whirl around with joy!

But this is a mystery that can’t be conveyed easily. I wrestle with it every year and continue to see new connections even though I will never understand it completely.

The selection of the readings for Christmas masses reflects that as well. If you went to the Vigil or the Midnight Mass you were blessed to hear from Luke about the birth of Jesus. How there was no room at the inn so he was laid in a manger and the shepherds came to see this incredible sight as the angels sang: “Glory to God in the highest”. Then the shepherds “went out and made known the message that had been told them about this child.” and “all who heard it were amazed…”

We need to have this historical understanding of the incarnation. If we didn’t… we could not hope to understand that famous verse from John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”

But the incarnation is much richer than just a historical event that was so important we measure time in relationship to when that happened.

So at the Christmas daytime mass we hear something different, we hear something that is a bit harder to grasp, because it is not framed in familiar images of barnyard animals, shepherds, or a baby. At this mass we hear the prologue of the Gospel of John.

Those who are just a little older than I am will remember that the Tridentine Mass had two Gospels: the Gospel of the day and what was called the Last Gospel. Our church found this particular scripture so profound that after the final blessing, the priest recited the prologue of John quietly in Latin from a permanent Mass card. John 1:1–14 concluded most Tridentine Masses with some exceptions (feasts, vigils, Lent) until the 2nd Vatican Council modified things.

This Gospel is huge in the development of the dogma of the Incarnation. It begins with the words “In the beginning,” a reference to the creation account in Genesis 1. God spoke creation into being, and Jesus was as close as his very Word. And we hear, “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.

Wow!

No wonder our first reading calls us on Christmas Day to be like the sentinels who, “shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion.”

In our second reading from Hebrews we hear how God gave us this Jesus, “who is the refulgence (or the bright shining light) of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.”

Wow!

Did you notice something here? This scripture is not phrased in the past tense. It proclaims “Who is” and “Who sustains” these are present “happening-now” phrases. Could it be there is more to this incarnation of The Christ than a baby born a couple thousand years ago?

There must be….. Jesus can never be relegated to history alone. “What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” In Genesis after there was a heaven and earth, what was the first thing God created? Light… and Jesus is “the light of the human race” the light which is life itself. The true light, which enlightens everyone. to those who believe in his name, he gave the power to be children of God.

So what does that mean to you and me in our daily affairs? It means that in one very real sense, the incarnation is alive in you. You and I are called by our baptism to the very essence of Christmas. To be the light of the world which the darkness will never extinguish. You are called to be the hands and feet of Christ at work and home and school. You are called to stand up for what you know is right in the face of a culture that tries to marginalize you if you live your faith out loud. You are called speak out and defend others who are powerless to defend themselves. You are called to ask What Would Jesus Do.. because He has no body now on earth but yours and if He is going to do anything, it is going to be by living in, and doing it through, you.

But I’m too weak to do this on my own strength. And I would bet that you are as well. How can we live as Christ in the world? Where can we find the strength to continue on?

We find our strength here on Sunday when we feast on the Word of God in the scriptures.

We find it in the Eucharist where we are fed in a special way by Jesus with His Body & Blood, Soul and Divinity.

We find the stamina to endure, in the Christ we find in each other in this community of faith.

In our families.  In the Christians that we are friends with. In our prayer life…

The world will be done with Christmas tonight. As a faith community we will celebrate Christmas not as a single day but as an entire liturgical season. But what will we do with Christmas empowered by a deeper understanding of the incarnation? Will we become the essence of Christmas all year long? This is our challenge. This is our calling. This is the reason and purpose for our lives. To be the light of the world which the darkness will never extinguish. Each and every day.

God Bless you and Merry Christmas!

In John Shea’s book “The Hour of the Unexpected” he shares a little story called Sharon’s Christmas prayer:

She was five,

sure of the facts,

and recited them

with slow solemnity

convinced every word

was revelation.

She said

They were so poor

that they only had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat

and they were a long way from home

without getting lost.

The lady rode a donkey, the man walked, and the baby was inside the lady.

They had to stay in a stable

with an ox and an ass (hee-hee)

but the three rich men found them

because a star lited the roof.

Shepherds came and you could pet the sheep but not feed them.

Then the baby was borned.

And do you know who he was?

(Her quarter eyes inflated to silver dollars.)

The Baby was God.

And she jumped into the air

whirled round, dove into the sofa

and buried her head under the cushion

which is the only proper response

to the Good News of the Incarnation.

(brief pause, allow them to enjoy the image)

I love the way this story helps to illustrate the joy that we can feel if we allow ourselves to “enter in” the Christ event.  An event so momentous that even the calendar we use to measure the passage of time marks this moment as its starting point.

Christmas should cause our eyes to grow large just by thinking about it, and if we get it…

We should leap in the air and whirl around with joy!

But this is a mystery that can’t be conveyed easily.  I wrestle with it every year and continue to see new connections even though I will never understand it completely. The selection of the readings for Christmas masses reflects that as well.

I know that some of you have attended all 3 masses for Christmas and so you were blessed to hear from Luke about the birth of Jesus.  How there was no room at the inn so he was laid in a manger and the shepherds came to see this incredible sight as the angels sang: “Glory to God in the highest”.  Then the shepherds “went out and made known the message that had been told them about this child.” and “all who heard it were amazed…”

We need to have this historical understanding of the incarnation.  If we don’t how could we ever hope to understand that famous verse from John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

But the incarnation is much richer than just a historical event that was so important we measure time in relationship to when that happened.  So at this mass we hear something different, we hear something that is a bit harder to grasp, because it is not framed in familiar images of barnyard animals, shepherds, or a baby.

At this mass we hear the prologue of the Gospel of John. Those who are just a little older than I am will remember that the Tridentine Mass had two Gospels: the Gospel of the day and what was called the Last Gospel.

Our church found this particular scripture so profound that after the final blessing, the priest recited the prologue of John quietly in Latin from a permanent Mass card, (facing the altar on the left.)

John 1:1–14 concluded most Tridentine Masses with some exceptions (feasts, vigils, Lent) until the Council modified things.

This Gospel is huge in the development of the dogma of the Incarnation. It begins with the words “In the beginning,” a reference to the creation account in Genesis 1. God spoke creation into being, and Jesus was as close as his very Word.

And we hear, “All things came to be through him,

and without him nothing came to be.

Wow!

No wonder our first reading calls us on Christmas Day to be like the sentinels who,

“shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion.”

In our second reading from Hebrews we hear how God gave us this Jesus,

“who is the refulgence (or the bright shining light) of his glory,

the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word.”

Wow!

Did you notice something here?  This scripture is not phrased in the past tense.  It proclaims “Who is” and “Who sustains” these are present “happening-now” phrases.

Could it be there is more to this incarnation of The Christ than a baby born a couple thousand years ago?

There must be…..  Jesus can never be relegated to history alone.

“What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;

the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

In Genesis after there was a heaven and earth, what was the first thing God created?

Light… and Jesus is “the light of the human race” the light which is life itself.

The true light, which enlightens everyone.

to those who believe in his name, he gave the power to be children of God.

So what does that mean to you and me in our daily affairs?

It means that in one very real sense, the incarnation is alive in you.

You and I are called by our baptism to the very essence of Christmas.

To be the light of the world which the darkness will never extinguish.

You are called to be the hands and feet of Christ at work and home and school.

You are called to stand up for what you know is right in the face of a culture that tries to marginalize you if you live your faith out loud.  You are called speak out and defend others who are powerless to defend themselves.  You are called to ask What Would Jesus Do.. because He has no body now on earth but yours and if He is going to do anything, it is going to be by living in, and doing it through, you.

But I’m too weak to do this on my own strength.  And I would bet that you are as well.

How can we live as Christ in the world?  Where can we find the strength to continue on?

Ø We find our strength here on Sunday when we feast on the Word of God in the scriptures.

Ø We find it in the Eucharist where we are fed in a special way by Jesus with His Body & Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Ø We find the stamina to endure, in the Christ we find in each other in this community of faith….

Ø In our families….

Ø In the Christians that we are friends with…

Ø In our prayer life….

The world will be done with Christmas tonight.

As a faith community we will celebrate Christmas not as a single day but as an entire liturgical season.

But what will we do with Christmas empowered by a deeper understanding of the incarnation?  Will we become the essence of Christmas all year long?

This is our challenge.  This is our calling.  This is the reason and purpose for our lives.

To be the light of the world which the darkness will never extinguish.

Each and every day.

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Responses

  1. Yes you are truly correct. We need to elebrate the whole season. Not just one day

  2. Very good, you can’t know
    Christmas unless you look through the eyes of a child. I like the part where the little girl dove under the pillows. your message to be the joy to the world and the light challenged me. Thank you.
    Don McFarland

  3. Likewise, May the blessings of Christmas be yours.

  4. De Colores! God loves to hear us praising Him and serving Him, because once u’r serving God it must always be in gladness,it’s not because you have to but it is with gladness,let us drew nearer to the Lord not just bec. we need to do so bec. we’re expecting prayers to be answered but as a temple of the Holy Spirit let us use this temple thru our apostolic deeds and HIS glory…Merry Chrismas…

  5. This definitely resonated with me, I was recently the catechist in our RCIA program for the Incarnation and Paschal Mystery. I found John 1 to be perfect, but certainly not easy, for the lesson. I asked the candidates before speaking on the Incarnation – “Who do you say that I am?” I need to ask myself the same question every day. Kids seem to grasp it so much better than adults.

  6. The heart of your HW…Amen

    How can we live as Christ in the world? Where can we find the strength to continue on?

    We find our strength here on Sunday when we feast on the Word of God in the scriptures.

    We find it in the Eucharist where we are fed in a special way by Jesus with His Body & Blood, Soul and Divinity.

    We find the stamina to endure, in the Christ we find in each other in this community of faith.

    In our families. In the Christians that we are friends with. In our prayer life…


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