Posted by: Fr Chris | December 24, 2019

CHRIST IS BORN!

Christ is born! Glorify Him! These words open the Canon of the Nativity in the Divine Office, and we use them for the next days to greet one another.

I want to look at all the familiar figures of the story tonight:

Star – heavens subject to God – this moving star leads the Magi directly to Bethlehem and the house where Mary and Jesus are found by them.

Census – Romans subject to God so that Jesus is born in the right town, to fulfill the promise of the Messiah.

Birthing a Godman - Nativity of Jesus

The animals in the Nativity Scene must include the  ox and donkey – fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy in 1:3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”

 The animals definitely know their master: what animal will Jesus ride on Palm Sunday: The colt of a donkey, one never ridden before. That colt also knows Jesus and does not buck or resist Him but welcomes Him.

Back to the stable: the other animals in the nativity are the sheep: the shepherds come with their sheep and dogs from the field where the wool of the sheep is used to make the vestments of the temple’s priests and lambs are raised for the Passover sacrifice, but the shepherds are kept on the fringe of society because they could not keep the complicated rituals of purity. Here they come, having seen the night sky lit up by angels who commission them to be the first Jews to behold the true Lamb of God, the true High Priest. They become the first evangelists, going from fringe to preachers, into the hill country of Judea, the region where the most devout Jews lived at the time, announcing the birth of a baby put into a manger.

Bible Stories Visit of Magi | Bible Vector - 10 Full Versions of the Holy Bible

Magi – They are foreigners who had interactions with Jews but would never be invited to a meal with them. But they are the ones who see this unique moving star, and when they see the Child and His Mother they prostrate in worship of this unique Infant Who is both God and Man.

Gifts of the Magi – gold for a king, frankincense to use in worshipping Jesus as God, myrrh for preparing the bodies of the dead but myrrh and frankincense also were used in healing medicines: this Child comes to bring healing to everyone, physical and spiritual, and will die so as to save the entire human race.

Beit-Lechem: The House of Bread | Ladder of Jacob

Bethlehem means:  “House of bread” because the town’s main industry was making bread for the residents of Jerusalem. Micah wanted the great cities to see the world differently, and most importantly, he wanted the cities to live differently. God does not work according to our plans.

 The greatest of all the rulers of Israel would come not from their ranks but from the least of the least of towns. In Chapter 5 of Micah, the prophet says:  But you Bethlehem are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come the ruler who will be the shepherd of My people, Israel.

One Prayer a Day: A Prayer for the First Sunday After Christmas

Jesus in the feed trough, Jesus in the hay that animals ate, is laying in that manger as a prefiguring of Him giving Himself to us as food, the gift of all gifts, the greatest present anyone has ever given to another person: His entire self, Humanity, Divinity, Body and Soul, His entire Personhood in the Holy Eucharist.  All that is lying in that wooden feed trough of a manger when Mary puts Him in there to keep Him warm, and that is exactly Who we will receive tonight in Holy Communion. Christmas is indeed CHRIST’s MASS!

On The Feast of the Holy Innocents, A Meditation on the Sins Committed Against Children ...

There is also violence in the story. Herod actually arranged for prominent men to be killed at his death so people would weep at his passing because the Jews hated him so much he knew that no one would mourn his passing. He’d gladly have some little boys killed the boys of Bethlehem and surrounding area so as to kill another opponent for His throne. The deaths of 20 or 30 little boys, the slaughter of the Holy Innocents occasioned great grief in the area in what is possibly the most powerful sign of our fallen world which Jesus came to redeem.

Laura's Icons: St. Joseph

Saint Joseph – gets up every single time the angel of the Lord comes to him, and does it constantly out of love for Mary and Son of God. As I said Sunday, he had such great love for Our Lady that he planned to divorce her quietly, which meant he would take the blame as having forced himself on her. He would be the bad guy, and willingly abandon Nazareth and all he had there so as to spare her from being stoned to death. He loved Mary so much that he would give up everything for her. God loves us so much that He gives up being only in heavenly glory and becomes one of us so as to save our lives from the curse of sin and death.

After the Presentation in the Temple, they have to go to Egypt. The Holy Family were refugees who fled into exile, just like so many millions do today all around the world. Egypt was both the ancient homeland of the Jews, but also in Jewish history provided a sanctuary for those in need. And again, a prophecy is fulfilled: out of Egypt I have called my Son: the prophet Hosea, chapter 11.

Christ came to save every person, and creation itself is redeemed from the sin of Adam: earth gives a cave, heaven gives the star, humanity gives the Virgin Mary, nature gives the animals: AND JESUS GIVES HIMSELF ALL FOR US! 

“On the Eighth Day of Christmas: The Circumcision and Name of Jesus” (Sermon on Luke 2:21, by Pr ...

Christmas comes with an octave liturgically, of eight days to New Year’s, the day on which Jesus is given His Name publicly. From there it is four more days to Epiphany or Theophany, for a total of twelve days. February 2nd is the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, forty days from now. Christmas music will no longer be on the radio, lights and trees and Nativity sets will be gone, and no one will speak about the “spirit of Christmas.” It is up to us to keep the true spirit of Christmas alive on the 26th, the 27th, and all year. That spirit is the self-emptying gift that God gives us so as to save us, Jesus Christ.

San River - WikiVisually

We live in a nation where church attendance is dropping, where young adults have been raised by parents who failed to bring them close to God, where too many people think they know what the Catholic Church is all about, but actually know very little of our Faith. We as a parish have been privileged to watch a father and son prepare this year to receive the holy mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, and Eucharist on Theophany. One-fourth of young Americans in Colin’s age group have no church affiliation, but he and his dad have been drawn into this great mystery of Emmanuel, God is with us.

We give presents in imitation of the Magi who gave gifts to Christ, the shepherds who praised Him, the animals who kept Jesus warm and gave up their food trough, Mary and Joseph who protected Him and gave Him both enormous love and the witness of their pure love for each other.

This year we can each give important gifts to anyone we know who has stopped attending church, never attended, or is searching for something to give comfort in a cold and confusing world:

– The angels said, Be not afraid, we have news of great joy. Each parishioner here has news of great joy: there has been born for this fallen world a Savior, Who is born FOR EACH OF US HERE. This is really and truly GREAT JOY.

– there is an enormous present waiting for everyone: the fullness of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, as our priests do EXACTLY what Jesus ordered the apostles to do; Christmas after all means Christ’s Mass, which is the real center of the holiday;

In a nation that is changing so fast, we belong to the original Church, using a fantastically beautiful worship brought over by immigrants, with rituals that still speak to the soul;

– Our parish offers a community that is rooted in that Faith, that Eucharist, that certainty. Kings, bishops, presidents, popes come and go but the Faith founded by this little crying baby boy in a manger of straw endures.

17 Best images about Byzantine Catholic on Pinterest | Nicholas d'agosto, Holy spirit and Saints

This is the gift of our Byzantine Catholic Church, that everyone who comes here finds a family ready to welcome them, offering a Liturgy that is meant to confirm in our hearts that God is absolute Love Who always welcomes us back to Him, and a worship style that should leave us having had a taste of heaven on earth.

Greek eastern orthodox byzantine icon of the Annunciation of Theotokos, Panagia, Virgin Mary ...

Through the power of the Holy Spirit Who made the Eternal Word in the virgin womb of the Blessed Mother of God, may we have the courage, wisdom, and love for others in 2020 that will impel us to invite others to come home not only for Christmas, but forever, in the embrace of the Church, the Church which has endured sin and scandal while still holding on to the apostolic truth for 2,000 years. Despite the sins of popes, bishops, clergy, nuns, and laity the Church is still here, and is still the Bride of Christ Who is born tonight.

The old English Christmas carol, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, is not saying may :merry gentlemen have a holy repose: but rather that God gives a happy rest to the people.

Let nothing you dismay/ For Jesus Christ our Savior / Was born upon this day / To save us all from Satan’s power / When we were gone astray.

This salvation is all possible because of this unique and holy birth tonight. May we all have a happy and blessed Christmas, and may we be open to this Christ Child bringing us His grace always.

January 01 – Naming and Circumcision of Jesus

Light of the world, Lamb of God


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