On behalf of Fr. Ron and all of our One in Christ staff and leadership, I pray for you a most blessed Christmas to you and your loved ones! What does one say about Christmas joy and hope that has not been said thousands of times before, by far more eloquent voices? But then, it is new for each of us, every time we celebrate this Birthday of Life, because God loves each of us uniquely, across the span of life, and even into eternity.
Scripture is clear that the birth of Jesus affected people in different ways – or not at all. Luke tells us that all those who heard the shepherds speak of their remarkable experience of angelic choirs and the sight of the newborn Messiah “were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds” (Luke 2:18). Herod and “all Jerusalem with him” were greatly troubled and Herod, furious at the potential loss of his throne and troubled by fear and doubt, massacred the Holy Innocents (Matthew 2:3, 2:16). The Magi, though this may have been considerably later after a long journey, were “overjoyed” and offered their gifts to the Child (Matthew 2:10-11). Carols, art, tradition, and speculation about the life and times of people in Jesus’ era have given us the animals, likely from Luke’s mention of the “manger” in which Jesus was laid, the feeding trough used by animals. How many and of what type are not described in the Gospels. But the rich connections of Jesus, “the new Adam” (see Romans 5:12-18) with the first Adam in the Book of Genesis, to whom God brought all the animals that he might name them (Genesis 2:19-20) have been drawn out by theologians and spiritual writers, a foreshadowing perhaps of Isaiah’s vision of the coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 11:6-9). Luke also tells us that Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart (Luke 2:19; see Luke 2:51), a contemplative believer and a devoted mother. Other than the mention of the finding in the Temple twelve years later, Joseph disappears from the Scriptures. The shepherds return to the fields; the Magi return to their own countries; Jesus grows to adulthood in Scriptural silence.
Most of the world, even those in Israel at the time, knew nothing about all this. No news media, no Internet, no phones or email. Word of mouth was all they had; and that very limitation is a lesson from Christmas, the poverty and humility of the way in
which God comes personally and humanly into the world. What will Christmas mean to you? When we place Jesus at its heart, the Lord’s birthday, it becomes a moment of joy, consolation, peace, and reassurance that does not fade with the passing of the season. That is my prayer for each of us … Emmanuel, God-With-Us, has come, and He prepares for each of us the Way to join Him, now and forever. May Jesus bring you the gift of serenity and hope today, and all through the New Year.