December 23, 2020
The Nativity of the Lord - Reflection on the Readings for Christmas Eve by Rita Bailey - Apostle of the Resurrection
First reading: Isaiah 9. 2-4, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Second Reading: Titus 2. 11-14
Gospel: Luke 2. 1-16
I always get shivers as I listen to the readings on Christmas Eve. The words are filled with the mystery and the majesty of this special night. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who have lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shone. These words speak to something deep in our DNA, the uplift we feel whenever we see a light shining in the darkness. And during a gloomy winter night in what has been the bleakest of years—between the worldwide pandemic, the worsening destruction of our environment, and acts of hatred, injustice and violence-- aren’t we all looking for a promise of light?
The reading further stirs our hearts with a ringing promise of peace: For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority will grow continually and there shall be endless peace. These electrifying words give us hope, lighten our cares and maybe give us the courage to do our part to bring the Gospel message to an increasingly complex and divided world.
We have heard the familiar words of Luke’s gospel not only at mass but also in every Nativity play we have seen in our lives. In my mind that’s how I picture it, Mary and Joseph and the donkey making their way to the manger, the shepherds startled by the angel, the heavens erupting in light and song with the multitude of heavenly beings. Once again there is that promise of peace.
And the shepherds, unlike most of us who are too busy to see a miracle, made haste to witness this wondrous thing that the Lord has made known to them. Like Mary at the Annunciation, they didn’t hesitate or say “Why me?” or “It’s not a good time,” or “I’m too tired.” They heard, they believed, they acted. This Christmas, let us go and do the same. Make a donation to an organization that lives out the Gospel message, make a phone call to a lonely neighbor, or take time to see the miracles in your own life, every day. And when we return, like the shepherds, to our “flocks”, let us take the message of the Prince of Peace with us.
Questions For Further Thought
Where is there darkness in your life and what brings you light?
How can you be a light in the darkness for others?
What worldly distractions keep us from seeing the wonders and miracles around us?
What does peace look like? Sound like? Feel like?
If there is to be peace on earth, we must bring it about. What can you, one insignificant person, do to make this happen?