Vigil Reading, Matthew 1: 1 – 25
The celebration of Christmas is our celebration of God’s love for us. He humbled himself out of love for us to be born into the world as one like us in all things but sin. His birth ushered the Kingdom of God in this world, Jesus’ death and resurrection completed our redemption, and the Gift of the Holy Spirit Confirmed God’s continued guidance. The genealogy with which the Gospel of Matthew begins makes clear the human lineage of Jesus. The genealogy goes from Abraham to Jesse, David to Josiah, and Jechonia to Jesus. Each name listed is identified as the son of his predecessor and then father of his successor. This ends with the last three names; “Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Jesus is the father of no one, for he is the brother of us all. The genealogy ends with all of us being united with our brother Jesus. This unites us to someone who is brother, not with an ancestor a multitude of generations from the past. This makes the love of Christ and the presence of Christ real and personal for us as we celebrate Christmas.
We celebrate Christmas with our Nativity Sets at Home, Nativity Plays in our church’s and parochial schools, and Christmas Cards that depict the real meaning of this day. It is a holiday, or more correctly put, a Holy Day, of joy. In the midst of the busyness that has become more and more a part of Christmas it is important for us not to lose sight of what we are doing. We might wish people, “Merry Christmas,” and put “Christmas Lights” on our houses, but be careful not to get this holy day out of focus. Let us not trivialize the beautiful Gospels we hear on Christmas that speak to us of the birth in the little town of Bethlehem, in a manger in a stable, and the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. The accounts of Shepherds, Angels and Magi all paint a colorful picture of this humble birth. It is not just the joy of recalling the birth of Jesus two thousand years ago, it is also the joy of celebrating Jesus’s presence with us today, it is the joy of God the Father adopting us as sons and daughters, making us brothers and sisters of his only begotten Son, and filling us with the Holy Spirit. Jesus is called Immanuel, a name that means, “God is with us.” This is in the present tense, and not God was with us, Jesus God has come into the world and into our lives. He is with us. On Christmas we celebrate this great mystery and act of God’s love for us.
Christmas is more than a day, it begins a season for us to remember and celebrate how loved we are by God. Begin celebrating Christmas by removing anything in our lives that stands in the way of our being able to accept this love. Put aside feelings of animosity, jealously, inadequacy, unworthiness of God’s Love, and let the reality of God’s love take their place. This will hopefully lead us to rediscover that the unconditional love for us, is being poured out upon everyone. We can welcome the presence of Jesus in 2016, and throughout 2017 by sharing the unconditional love given to us with all those around us. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Light of the World. May his light shine brightly within us, and may it shine forth from us.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.