Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem...and the world changes forever...
Reflections on the readings for the Nativity of the Lord at the Vigil Mass (December 24, 2019): IS 62:1-5; PS 89:4-5,16-17,27,29; ACTS 13:16-17,22-25; MT 1:1-25
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
We Catholics welcome Christmas with the Vigil Mass, often, although not always celebrated at midnight.
We look around at the festively decorated church and listen to traditional music and carols. And we usually pay particular attention to the Nativity scene that is given a place of honor. When the Gospel is proclaimed, we hear the genealogy of Christ. This is the list showing how Jesus, as the legal son of Joseph, is descended from Abraham and, very importantly in Jewish history and belief, from King David. It is through the line of David that the Messiah is expected to appear. But the birth of the Holy Child has contradictions from the beginning that concern His divine and human nature. Mary and Joseph of Nazareth are engaged, but when he learns that she is pregnant, he faces a dilemma – until a messenger of the Lord comes to him in a dream. The angel tells Joseph to have courage because Mary’s baby was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named Him Jesus” (Matthew 1:24-25).
When we pause to contemplate the Creche or Nativity scene, we think of the first Christmas and the birth of the Son of God through the Blessed Virgin Mary. We think of Joseph who brought the Mary to Bethlehem, the City of David, to respond to a Roman census and to fulfill the Scriptures. We see statues of shepherds and sheep, wise men and angels. But above all, we see our own redemption in the tiny hands of the Divine Infant born to a poor, insignificant family two thousand years ago and, indeed, to the whole world. We no longer watch and wait. The Prince of Peace is born. Merry Christmas!