The Nativity of the Lord

The Nativity of the Lord
Scriptures for the Four Masses:
Vigil Mass:  Isaiah 62:1-5  + Acts 13:16-17,22-25  +  Matthew 1:1-25
Mass during the Night:  Isaiah 9:1-6  +  Titus 2:11-14  +  Luke 2:1-14
Mass at Dawn:  Isaiah 62:11-12  +  Titus 3:4-7  +  Luke 2:15-20
Mass during the Day:  Isaiah 52:7-10  +  Hebrews 1:1-6  +  John 1:1-18

And the Word became flesh / and made his dwelling among us, / and we saw his glory ….

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references to the Catechism of the Catholic Church cited for this Sunday by the Vatican’s Homiletic Directory:

CCC 456-460, 466: “Why did the Word become flesh?”
CCC 461-463, 470-478: the Incarnation
CCC 437, 525-526: the Christmas mystery
CCC 439, 496, 559, 2616: Jesus is the Son of David
CCC 65, 102: God has said everything in his Word
CCC 333: the incarnate Christ worshipped by the angels
CCC 1159-1162, 2131, 2502: the Incarnation and images of Christ

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When we live for so many years as Christians, we can become numb to just how strange an idea Christmas is:  two thousand years ago, the God who created the heavens and the earth was born as a human being.  We might appreciate this mystery better if we described Christmas as a celebration of love being born as a human being.

Love is something that all of us want in our lives, and all of us pursue love throughout our lives.  The difficulty with love is that so many people define love in so many different ways.

Often when we try to offer love to others, we find ourselves at cross-purposes.  Love, for many, is an idea that we have in our minds.  Unfortunately, it often doesn’t serve as the anchor of what we say and do.

God, however, is always straightforward in what He says and does.  On this Christmas Day, He proclaims to the world, “A child is born in your midst, and He is My Son.”  To Mary and Joseph, God entrusted Love incarnate in a manner that they could see, hear, and hold in their arms.  It was the vocation of Mary and Joseph to care for this treasure as He grew up in Nazareth.

It was the vocation of Mary and Joseph to care for Jesus as He drew closer to the purpose of His life on this earth:  the revelation upon Calvary of God’s love as Divine Mercy.  This is a love that is given not only to relatives and friends, but a love that is given to sinners.

“Love” is the definition of God.  St. John tells us in his first letter that “love consists in this:  not that we have loved God, but that He has loved us, and has given us His Son as an offering for our sins” [1 Jn 4:10].  The Love who is born in the flesh on Christmas Day is the Love who offers His life for us on Good Friday.

By sending His Only Son to be become one of us, God the Father is proclaiming to us our destiny.  He is revealing to each of us how much He longs for us to live forever as His adopted daughters and sons in Heaven.  The means loving others as God loves us.

While we might not usually think of Christmas this way, at Christmas God the Father is reminding us that we humans are sinners, and that we cannot live on our own.  This is the second mystery revealed by calling Jesus “Emmanuel”.  When we say that Jesus is “God with us”, we believe not only that God became an infant.  We also believe that He came for our sake, to reveal true love to us in His Divine Mercy.

He’s not only God with us:  He is God for us.

Nativity - Rembrandt