The Nativity of the Lord: Mass During the Day. Dec. 25, 2022

 

The Nativity of the Lord: Mass During the Day. Dec. 25, 2022

Isaiah 52: 7-10; Hebrews 1: 1-6; John 1: 1-18

 

Theme: The Newborn Jesus is God’s Word Made Flesh

There are four Masses prescribed in this solemnity of the Nativity of our Lord: On Saturday vigil, Saturday night, Sunday dawn, and Sunday Day. The liturgy of Christmas Mass during the Day that we celebrate is, in some way, the climactic liturgy of all four Christmas Masses. We already resolved to take Mary who carried our salvation in her womb into the homes of our hearts and families as the angel of the Lord commanded to Joseph and each one of us. (Gospel of Christmas Vigil Mass). We offered to the Blessed Mother Mary our hearts and families as the “Bethlehem” and “manger” (the feeding place) and Jesus has been born into. The first persons to whom the angel of the Lord revealed “this good news of great joy” were not the “arrogant of mind and heart” but you and me, the shepherds of our time, meaning the lowly, poor, and hungry in spirit. (Gospel of Christmas Mass during the night). The shepherds went in haste to visit the Newborn Jesus. Then, they made known to the surrounding countryside the message that had been told them by the angel of the Lord that they confirmed with their personal experience during their visit. Finally, they returned home glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. We understood that we are the shepherds of our time, and our mission is to always visit Jesus in haste at every Mass (especially Sunday Masses). Then, we need to go to announce to the people where we live Jesus whom we hear in the Word of God and experience in the Eucharist. And finally, we learned that, in all our lives, we are called to praise and glorify God for choosing us, “the shepherds of today”, to be the first witnesses of the nativity of our Lord (Gospel of Christmas Mass at dawn).

Now, the liturgy of this Christmas Mass during the day invites us to meditate on the theology of the mystery of the Incarnation that we experienced during the previous three Christmas Masses. The prologues to the Hebrews (second reading) and the Gospel of John tell us that this Newborn Jesus is the Word of God through whom God created the universe. He existed before all creation. Isaiah’s prophecy (first reading) calls Israel including you and me to be the heralds who announce the message of salvation to the people and tell them that our God is King.

Our first reading is to be situated in the context of the return of the people of Israel from exile in Babylon to Zion, their land. Isaiah commences his oracle by describing a herald who announces “good news” of salvation to Zion. Ancient Greek translates the verb euaggelizo “evangelize” to “announce good news” which is the “Gospel”. Here the prophet predicts the beginning of the proclamation of the Gospel. In the context of this text, this Gospel is that God of Israel is King, and he has come to bring salvation to Zion, to rebuild Jerusalem, and restore it. The Church reapplies this passage to the Christmas event. The Baby Jesus who is born today is the God-King of Isaiah’s prophecy. As the God-King led the people of Israel from the exile of Babylon to Zion, he is born today to lead us from the darkness of this world to the light of everlasting life in the glory of heaven. The birth of Emmanuel, God-with-us, marks the beginning of the rebuilding of New Jerusalem. Jesus himself is the cornerstone (Matthew 21: 42), and the twelve tribes of Israel who were the foundation of ancient Israel are replaced by the twelve apostles (See Revelation 21: 14) and all their successors including all believers (See 1 Peter 2: 4-5) who are all the foundation of new Jerusalem. As Isaiah invited his contemporaries to break out together in song and shout for joy for the restoration of ancient Jerusalem, (Isaiah 52: 8-9), we too, in this celebration of the nativity of our Lord which marks the beginning of our restoration, let us break out together in song and sing with joy because the “Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” as Saint John reveals it to us in our Gospel.

The Evangelist John commences his Gospel with this expression: “In the beginning” in reference to the first word of the Bible in the book of Genesis: “In the beginning, when God created the heaven and the earth…” (Gen. 1: 1). In that passage of Genesis, when God spoke, things came into existence. He created everything with his word. Then notice how Saint John in our Gospel defines Jesus as the Word who was with God in the beginning. (v. 1). He tells us that the Word that God the Father spoke to create everything in the book of Genesis is Jesus. (v. 3). John’s aim is to let his readers know that with the coming of Jesus Christ into our lives, the world has experienced a new creation. In the first creation, we had the first man Adam who lost us the right to divine sonship (filiation). However, in the new creation, we have the Son of God Jesus Christ who preexisted before Adam and who was the Word through which God the Father created everything. With him, we have regained our right to divine sonship with God.

Our Evangelist indicates that the True light, Jesus, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world but the world did not know and accept him. (John 1: 9-11). Pay attention to how he uses the term “world” which has different meanings in this Gospel passage. In vv. 9-11, He places before us the symbol of Christ as the true Light of the world and the devil as the symbol of darkness. By saying that the world did not know and accept Jesus (here the term “world” represents all those who are under the influence of the darkness of the devil), the Evangelist John already predicts the rejection, passion, and death of Jesus by his own people. Today, the people continue to reject Jesus as their light. Devil and his lieutenants are trying to bring darkness into our societies. All virtues that the Bible teaches are now seen as vices, and those that the Bible condemns are what the people see as virtues. For instance, the Scripture tells us that God created male and female in his image and likeness. (Genesis 1: 26- 27). When God thought that it was not good that man should be alone, he created, not another man to be his partner. Rather, he created a female as a partner of the man. (Genesis 2: 18). And he added, “Therefore, a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and become one flesh.” (Genesis 2: 24). God did not create another sex except these two: male and female. He did not say that the male will cling to another male, nor the female will cling to another female in the sacrament of the marriage to become one flesh. Devil’s aim is to bring darkness into our societies to make the people lose their image and likeness of God and transform them into his (devil’s) image and likeness.

Also, the Church teaches us that “Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 51). The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” (CCC., no. 2270). “Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (CCC., no. 2271). But the devil brings the darkness of abortion and thousands of innocent unborn children are being killed every day in our societies. There are many more immoral cases that bring darkness into the world that God created.

The Church holds on to the hope that Jesus Christ, whose nativity we celebrate today, is the human race's light. He shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1: 3-5). All baptized Christians are the “other Christ”. So, in this celebration of the nativity of our Lord, you and I are called to continue spreading Jesus’ light in this world that the devil is trying to darken. We need to shine our Christian light everywhere we live to eradicate the darkness of the devil among God’s people and bring them back to their original image and likeness of God. Through the example of our faith and the different ministries that we render in our parish, we help the people strengthen their own faith in Jesus and so regain their divine identity of being “children of God”. (See John 1: 12-13).

The infant Jesus who is born today is the Incarnated Word of God who made his dwelling among us. We saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1: 14). In our second reading, the author of the Hebrews even makes it very clear that the Newborn Jesus is God’s Word made flesh. This passage reading affirms that in times past, God spoke through the prophets but now (and it is the last way), God speaks to us through his Son Jesus who is born today. Jesus is the heir of God; through him, God created the universe. He is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, says the second reading. (Cf. Hebrews 1: 1-6).

To show that we have accepted Jesus and believed in him, we must regularly respond to his invitations when he calls us to unite with him in the celebration of Masses (especially on Sundays). During Masses, the “Word of God made flesh” speaks to us through the scripture readings, listens to us through when we bring to him our intercessions, and offers us his Body and Blood in the sacrament of the Eucharist. From the celebration of Mass, which is Christ’s fullness, we receive “grace in place of grace”. (John 1: 16). Let us allow Jesus who reveals God the Father to us (John 1: 18) penetrate our innermost selves and let him lead us as it fits him. Amen.

Merry Christmas!

Rev. Leon Ngandu, SVD  

 

 

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