This is the key to our salvation. Today, the day when children run to see their presents under the tree, we are reminded that this is day when God gives to us the greatest present, Himself in the flesh. This great gift, God Incarnate, is given to us. He will die on the tree of the Cross, to free us from the sin committed under the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
Let us take time today, please, to sit in wonder. Not at the presents, not at the credit card bill. This day is so often marked by human problems and sin as people fight, or drink or eat to excess. It is up to us Christians to bring human minds back to the source of this day: Jesus is born of the Virgin Mary; Jesus is God in the flesh; Jesus will give Himself completely at the Last Supper under the forms of bread and wine (not grape juice!); Jesus is wrapped in white linens, foreshadowing the wrapping of His body after His death on the Cross which He goes to willingly in order to completely save us; Jesus will rise from the dead in a glorified body, but still the one which He acquired from the Virgin Mary, in order to lead us to divinization; Jesus will send the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and lead us forward in faith.
The Infant blesses with His right hand, spelling out His Name in the Greek initials ICX: Jesus Who will save His people from their sins; Christ, the Anointed One.
The very first prayer of Matins says: Glory and praise to Christ our God Who is born on earth and deifies the human race. St Athanasius dares to write: “The only begotten Son of God, wanating to make us sharers in His divinity, assumed our nature, so that He made man, might make us gods.” Thus the writings of the Apostles are fulfilled: John 15:1-4, 1 Corinthians 12, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Peter 1:4, Galatians 4:5-7, 1 Corinthians 6:15, Romans 8:7, Catechism of the Catholic Church: 1129, 1265, 1988, 1391.
Unlike the Protestant reformers who taught that man is corrupt through original sin, because the tendency to evil (concupisence) is insurmountable, the Catholic Church has taught us always that baptism erases original sin, and imparts the life of Jesus’ grace and turns us back to God as we embark on the spiritual battle to become one again with God! (Catechism 405, 406, 409,457-460.
O joyful Mother of God! Pray for us on this great feast of the birth of your Son, Son of Mary and Son of God, that we will fulfill His plan for us: to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit and be made new in Him so as to partake of the Holy Eucharist and be one with Him. Blessed Mother of God, O Theotokos: guide us on the way to true life in Jesus Christ, your Son, so that we may open His gift to us today, this day of gift-giving and gift-receiving throughout the world, and become one with Him, through the Sacraments/ the Holy Mysteries of Confession and Eucharist, and participation in His grace, His energies!
O Saint Joseph, protector of the Virgin and the Son of God, your foster-son: show us how to do the will of God immediately as you did so very well (Matthew 1:24, 2:14; 2:21. Ask your foster-Son, who you protected from His enemies and Who you guided to full manhood, teaching Him so well,
-that those who need work in this the Great Recession, will find it, you who are the patron of all workers through your work which was holy in the eyes of God;
-that those struggling with purity and chastity will observe it, through your example of respecting the purity of the ever-virgin Mother of God;
-that those who are close to death will find peace in your example and intercession, you who died in the embrace of Jesus and Mary.
The shepherds were cut off from Israel because they could not fulfill all the obligations of the Law in their constant wandering caring for the flocks but they are the ones whom the angels entrust today with their message: to not only go and find the Babe wrapped snugly in swaddling clothes, and to worship Him, but to do as you did, and joyfully and in the power of God go forth and announce Him to the world as you did to all around Bethelehem (Luke 2:8-17).