Mass During the Night
Psalm 96:1-2, 2-3, 11-12, 13 (Luke 2:11)
December 25, 2019
There is much joy in seeing so many people here at Christmas as we celebrate something very special, very sacred.
What makes this time of year so special?
It’s not just here in church. You can see signs of Christmas in many places and in many ways. Ever since Thanksgiving, there has been Christmas music on the radio. You can see Christmas in the decorations. Even before Thanksgiving, you could see Christmas in the stores.
Still, what is Christmas really about?
There are more and more people who celebrate Christmas without having any faith. For them, it is about the gifts and parties. For us, Christmas has a deeper meaning, something that draws many to Church looking for hope.
There’s nothing wrong with gifts and parties at Christmas as long as we remember why we celebrate Christmas. Christmas is the day we celebrate the gift God gives us, Jesus, the gift of love. Christmas gifts and parties can be expressions of love.
Christmas music can express what happened at the first Christmas for it was a holy night, a silent night. In the song, O Come All Ye Faithful, all are invited to participate in our celebration of the sacred event of Jesus’ birth.
Christmas decorations also point us to the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas trees are evergreen trees, evergreen reminding us of everlasting life. If you look at the shape of a Christmas tree, you can see an arrow pointing up to God.
Even the lights on the Christmas trees and on many houses finds their origin in the sacred meaning of Christmas. Think of the light of th star that guided the Magi. Jesus comes to be the light of the world.
Many people put up trees and decorations out of tradition without recognizing the origin and meaning of Christmas. However, we have one decoration that very clearly shows the sacred meaning of Christmas, the creche. We also call it a nativity scene or a manger scene. Whatever name you give it, it depicts the scene of Jesus’ birth, the story that we hear in our gospel for this Mass.
It is a scene that can warm our hearts. It brings us “peace” and “hope”.
We live busy lives. Leading up to Christmas, life becomes all the more busy with the preparations. I think the hecticness of the preparation makes us long all the more for the “peace” that Jesus brings. That’s why we are here.
In the ordinary events of life we might feel like we walk in “darkness”. When we see bad things in the world at large, we might feel like we are in a “land of gloom”. Jesus comes to be a great light to shine in the darkness and gloom.
So, what do we see in the creche? We see Jesus as a humble little baby. Jesus does not come in triumphant glory. He comes in humble circumstances. He isn’t even born at home for Joseph and Mary were traveling for the census when “the time came for her to have her child.”
They looked for a place to stay in Bethlehem (the place prophesized for Jesus’ birth) but no one let the Son of God into their homes. The only place available for Mary to give birth to the Son of God was a stable.
Once born, Jesus was not dressed in fine royal garments. Instead, he was wrapped in “swaddling clothes”, another sign of his emptying of his divinity so that He might come among us.
Let us not neglect what is at the center of the creche, Jesus but what is Jesus lying in? A manger.
A manger is no crib for a babe. A manger is a food trough for animals. It was no place for a babe but the symbolism is perfect when we see Jesus in the manger and realize He is the Bread of Life, the spiritual food that we need, the food that we can receive every Sunday at Mass, the Eucharist.
As a sign of who Jesus comes for, who was it that were the first to see baby Jesus? It was not kings or magi. They would come because Jesus comes to save all but, again in humility, shepherds were the first to here the “good news of great joy” that “today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.”
There was “no room for them in the inn.”
Is there “room” in your heart for Jesus?
Why should we make room for Jesus? I’ve already mentioned the “peace” and “hope” that Jesus brings us.
He gives us “peace” by giving us light to see the world differently than the rest of humanity.
He gives us “hope” when we know the purpose for which He came, to save us “all”. He came to give “himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness.” Thank you Jesus for the gift of salvation.
So, we need to make room for Jesus in our hearts and souls by rejecting “godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age.”
This is the way we show our gratitude as “a child is born to us, a son is given to us.”
This is what Christmas is all about. The gift of Jesus. It is a gift that began at the first Christmas but it is a gift we receive every time we receive the Eucharist. It is a gift that we receive in each of the Sacraments.
So, keep the real meaning of Christmas alive in your hearts. Take a moment on your own to look at our nativity scene. See Jesus and see the gift He is to us.