- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

December 25, 2015-Day Mass

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

December 25, 2015 – Nativity of the Lord
Mass during the Day
Isaiah 52: 7-10; Hebrews 1: 1-6; John 1: 1-18

Merry Christmas to you and to your families. Today’s Gospel Acclamation merits repetition. “A holy day has dawned upon us. Come you nations and adore the Lord. Today a great light has come upon the earth.” The night is past and a new day has dawned. Today is a celebration of cosmic hope because today we celebrate the birth of Christ, the Savior of the human race. When Mary gave birth to Jesus, she brought forth the Light of the Nations Who was to dispel the darkness brought about by the sin of Adam and Eve. In the shadows and the silence of that holy night, a great and inextinguishable light shone forth for all to see, giving rise to an inexpressible joy that has been touched with glory. The Child sleeping in the manger is the Word made flesh, the long awaited hope of the world.

The story began when “the earth was formless and desolate and when the depths were cloaked in darkness” (Gen.1:2). In the middle of the night, while peaceful silence wrapped all things and the shepherds of Israel were keeping watch over the flock entrusted to them, the Word of God leaped down from heaven. Today is the day on which the great light shines forth, expelling the darkness of sin and death. The creator and sustainer of the world became a man in order to fill fallen humanity with the grandeur of His divinity.

Today a great light has come upon the earth. The light is Christ. He has come to us as the Prince of Peace and as the Lord of Lords. Christ come to offer himself to all people as the sure hope for salvation. He is the Word that issued forth from the Heart of the Father, through whom all things were made and in whom all things continue in existence. What was once formless and void, confusion and emptiness has become a new creation in Christ. In the Light of Christ, all creation proclaims the grandeur of God and night unto night makes known the Good News of salvation.

We are the people who have walked in darkness and who have been overwhelmed by the shadow of death and gloom (Cf. Is. 9:2). Wherever the birth of the Word made Flesh is announced, light shines forth because a holy day has dawned upon us. We have reason to celebrate because today, the Light of the Nations has come into the world. The child born to us today is the fulfillment of all the prophecies of old. He is the long awaited consolation of Israel and the Savior of mankind. We gather today to adore Him who is called Wonderful Counsellor. Our hearts overflow in song because the Eternal Word of the Father has taken flesh of the Virgin Mary and has made the love of the Almighty Father tangible. The song begun that silent night has echoed throughout the universe. All creation declares the wonders God has done.

We have heard the Good News announcing the Birth in the Flesh of the Eternal Word. God has done marvelous things. Today we celebrate the birth of the Virgin Mary’s Son Who is also the Son of the Father and the Bearer of the Holy Spirit. Charles Wesley penned these words:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; 
Hail the incarnate deity! 
Pleased as Man with man to appear: 
Jesus, our Emmanuel here.

In times past, God spoke to his ancient people in various and sundry ways. Jesus, Whose birth we celebrate today, is the culmination of God´s revelation to the world. His humble birth in Bethlehem was heralded by choirs of angels announcing peace to the world.  The child concealed in a stone-cold cave is the light for the peoples that calls the world into the newness of day. In the Child of Bethlehem we see the power, wisdom and grandeur of God. In the innocence of this Child we see the recreation of the human race. Reworking the clay, the One without Whom nothing was made, left His mark on each earthen vessel and once again affirmed us in His image and likeness. Gazing into the Face of God’s Son we see the true Light that dispels the darkness of sin and death. He walked among us so that we might walk with Him along the path that leads to our heavenly home.

Words fail us. How can we ever be thankful enough that God has in so many ways and with such fidelity to His Word, repeatedly spoken to us concerning our salvation? Not only that, but, having sent prophet after prophet, He chose to enter into our human nature so as to cleanse us from our sins. Truly, a holy day has dawned upon us! Today, in the town of Bethlehem, the Virgin Mary gave birth to the Only-begotten Son of God. By taken to Himself our human nature, the Eternal Word has become the image of the invisible God (Cf. Col. 1:15). Let us adore the Master of the Universe and the Creator of all that exists. Let us kneel in reverent silence before the manger and acknowledge our Lord and God.

Each of the Christmas gospels make it clear that the birth of Christ was the result of God’s merciful plan. The passage from John’s Prologue makes it clear that the recreation of the world was God’s intention from the first moment of Creation. Thanks to the gospel accounts of stars, angelic choir and exotic visitors, we can see the glory of the Father’s only Son with the eyes of faith. Through Jesus, we have come to know the love and goodness of God. We have come to know the forgiveness and mercy of God who has never forgotten his people.

“A holy day has dawned upon us. Come you nations and adore the Lord. Today a great light has come upon the earth”. Today we see the immensity of God’s love revealed in a tiny baby. We celebrate the day God made Himself small so He could enlarge our hearts. Born of the ever-virgin Mary, He became a child, to attract us with love, and to touch our hearts with His humble goodness. Today we hear the Good News of Salvation proclaimed by an infant, one who is unable to speak. The darkness has been dispelled by the fire of divine love that burns in the heart of the Christ child that is wrapped in swaddling clothes and sleeps in a manger. The promise is affirmed this night, if we place our burdens in the tiny hands of the new-born Savior we will find rest and rejoicing will be ours. Let us come to Bethlehem and adore the Lord who saves us from the darkness of sin and makes us children of God. I invite you, then, to pause before the Nativity scene, for there God’s tenderness speaks to us. There we contemplate divine mercy, made flesh so that we gaze tenderly upon it. Above all, it wishes to move our hearts (Pope Francis).