Merry Christmas! Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The Lectionary provides a variety of options for today’s readings, each highlighting an important aspect of Jesus’ origins.
At Masses on Christmas Eve, the Gospel reading comes from Matthew. Matthew highlights Jesus’ Jewish heritage, which goes back to David and Abraham through Jesus’ father, Joseph. Matthew also includes the story of an angel appearing to Joseph and telling him not to leave Mary, who has conceived by the Holy Spirit. Part of this reading from Matthew was also proclaimed on the Fourth Sunday of Advent.
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (Jn 1:14)
How can the birth of Jesus inspire your life?
What actions can you take to glorify God?
What can you do to care for people throughout the year?
For Christmas Masses during the night and at dawn, the Gospel reading comes from Luke. Luke’s narrative provides a census to explain why the birth of Jesus took place in Bethlehem. In Luke, Jesus is placed in a manger and wrapped in bands of cloth, a possible foreshadowing of his death, in which he is wrapped in linen cloth before burial (Lk 23:53). Luke’s account also includes angels directing shepherds to go and worship Jesus in the manger. The shepherds are the first witnesses of Christ aside from his parents.
The prologue of John’s Gospel is heard during daytime Christmas Masses. John declares that Jesus is the Word (Gk. logos) of God, who preexisted before the birth of Jesus. According to John, the Word existed with God from the beginning of time and participated in the creation of the universe. John poignantly alludes to the creation account of Genesis 1 where “in the beginning” the divine voice speaks creation into existence (Gen 1:1-31). With a different focus from Matthew and Luke, who provide insights into Jesus’ miraculous human birth, John highlights Jesus’ divinity and cosmic significance. It is the Word who takes on flesh in the person of Jesus.
On Christmas, we celebrate the Word of God becoming flesh, the incarnation of Jesus Christ. This action reveals God’s intimate connection to humanity, expresses God’s love and compels us to love one another. Throughout the Advent and Christmas seasons, many people are kinder and more generous, increasing service and offerings. These are wonderful expressions of love that should not only be seasonal activities. Let the miracle of Christmas inspire your actions throughout the year.