Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Christmas!
We gather around the table of the Lord to celebrate the Birthday of Jesus Christ. We thank God for the gift of life and salvation that comes to us by hearing and living the story of Jesus Christ and his pure sacrificial love.
This story really began nine months ago when the Church celebrated the mystery of the Annunciation on March 25th. On that date we remember how God sent his angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary to announce to her that God chose her to be the Mother of his Divine Son.
Mary said, “Yes,” and received the greatest of all gifts: the Eternal Son of God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God the Son entered the womb of Mary to become for us Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, our Brother and Friend.
For nine months Jesus Christ grew as a human being wrapped in our humanity in the pure womb of Mary. This is the mystery of Christmas: the all-powerful Son of God became Incarnate, taking on our human flesh, our human nature, in order to give us his divine life, perfect love and infinite wisdom.
What an exchange of gifts! God takes on our human nature with all its limitations and vulnerabilities, so that we could become adopted sons and daughters of God through our baptism and our worthy reception of the other sacraments of love and service. At baptism we begin to receive the life of God, the life of sanctifying grace in our soul, but we are called to practice our faith, hope and love daily, individually, and as a family, in order to grow that sanctifying grace within us.
We can imagine how joyful Mary and Joseph were in caring for the baby Jesus. They had to make sure to feed him daily, clothe him against the cold and wash him with water, using all these gifts that God pro-vides to sustain our lives.
The heart of the Christmas story is this: God the Son became the little baby Jesus through Mary who was married to Joseph, so that we might know how God the Father, Mary and Joseph would love and care for the life of each person, and the life of faith within each family, the life of grace within each one of us.
Every Catholic Christian Father and Mother, like Mary and Joseph, delight in nurturing and protect-ing their children, as well as the life of grace within their souls. That is why we, as followers of Jesus, are called to pray daily to our heavenly Father for our children, for our family and friends, for our country and Church: only with Jesus can we pray: “Our Father, who art in heaven… Give us this day, our daily bread. For-give us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Thirty-three years after being fed and cleansed by Mary, clothed and laid on the wood of the crib by Joseph in the City of Bethlehem (Bethlehem means
“House of Bread”), Jesus would give the supreme gift of his life in the Eucharist at the Last Supper – the First Mass – to his apostles, and then would lay down his life on the wood of the cross – the gift of salvation.
Today, with Mary and Joseph, and all the family of God, we celebrate Jesus in the Mass of Christ, Christ Mass, Christmas. Jesus and his gift of sacrificial love is why we celebrate the Christ Mass, which is where we get the word “Christmas,” and where we receive the gift of sanctifying grace which makes us children of God on our way to our heavenly home.
This Christmas, and at every Holy Mass, we worship God with praise and thanksgiving, and grow into the holy men and women God wants us to be – this is our gift back to God. With God’s grace, and the help of Mary, we can receive Jesus in the state of grace and have new life, Divine Life born in our soul, and we rejoice: Mary, Christ, Mass!
Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!