Theme: A BLESSED CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR
- Matthew 1:1-25;
- Luke 2:1-14; Lk 2:15-20;
- John 1:1-18;
- Hebrews 1:1-6.
- A blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you! Christmas is a very big feast, second only to Easter! That is why we have four Masses for Christmas, namely, “Vigil Mass”, “Mass at Midnight”, “Mass at Dawn”, and “Mass During the Day”! We have no time to look at all the readings, but let us look at all the gospels of all the four Masses!
The gospel for Vigil Mass tells us that Jesus Christ was the son of David and the son of Abraham. The gospel tells us that from Abraham to David there were 14 generations; and from David to the Babylonian exile there were 14 generations; and from the Babylonian exile to Jesus Christ there were 14 generations. In Hebrew there are 14 letters in the name David; Jesus Christ is therefore the Davidic Messiah! But the number 14 is also a multiple of 7 which is a perfect number for Matthew. Jesus came at the perfect time, that is, at the fullness of time; and in his Second Coming all creation will be perfected in him in all its fullness! (IBC; Vat.IIWM)
The number 7 could have originated from the 7 heavenly lights, that is, the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn as the heavens were perfect for the ancients! In fact, the days of the week are named after the 7 heavenly bodies: Sunday (Sun), Monday (Moon), Tuesday (Mars), Wednesday (Mercury), Thursday (Jupiter), Friday (Venus) and Saturday (Saturn)! (WNNCD) The number 7 could also have originated from the 4 phases of the moon, that is, new, crescent, gibbous and full moon. A quarter of the 28 days of the moon is 7. (CGDB) In short, Jesus Christ came at the perfect time, that is, at the fullness of time and when Jesus Christ comes a second time all will be perfected in him in all its fullness!
- The gospel for Midnight Mass tells us that Caesar Augustus is not god, not the savior and not the bringer of peace as the Romans revered him to be; but Jesus Christ is God, Savior and Bringer of Peace (Shalom)!
The gospel tells us that Jesus Christ is God become man, God become food for man, and God become food for sinful man! That is why the sign for Jesus Christ’s birth is an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, that is, God become man; lying in a manger, that is, God become food for man; and revealed to shepherds, that is, God become food for sinful man! (NJBC)
That is why the gospel tells us that the angel announced to the shepherds that a Savior has been born to them and he is Christ the Lord, that is, he is God, Savior and Messiah who brings peace (shalom)! And the sign that the angel gave to the shepherds was an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And that is why the gospel tells us that a throng of other angels praised God singing:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favor”. (Lk 2:14; SM)
That is, Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace, shalom, salvation to men who are blessed, graced and favored by him!
We give glory to God, for salvation comes from God, and it is a favor, a blessing, a grace, and a total free gift to sinful men!
- The gospel for “Mass at Dawn” is a continuation of the gospel for Midnight Mass. Again, we hear for a third time “the baby lying in the manger”! And again we hear of the shepherds! Again, God did not only become man, but God became food for man, and not only food for man, but food for sinful man, so that sinful man may live and not die! The gospel tells us that the shepherds shared the news of great joy of the angel with Mary and Joseph, and Mary treasured it and pondered it in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God!
- The gospel for “Mass during the Day” and the second reading which is similar to it tell us that God reveals himself in creation (Rm 1:20; Fuller), that is, God reveals himself in the sun, moon and stars; the trees, animals and birds; the sea, fish and corals, etc.! That is why we have to care for the environment and not destroy it!
The gospel and the second reading also tell us that God reveals himself in human beings! Human beings were created in the image of God to be the co-creators of God! Human beings are the only creatures who can think, reflect, and reason! That is why our Pope, Benedict XVI, often talks about “faith and reason” or “faith and science”! That is why we have to dialogue with science! We have to dialogue with cosmology, astronomy, ecology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, biology, geology, etc.
Albert Einstein said that science without religion is lame and religion without science is blind. Blessed Pope John Paul II said that science without religion is idolatry and religion without science is superstition. Indeed science without religion is meaningless and religion without science is fanaticism!
More importantly, Science with religion and religion with science is mysticism/mystery, that is, God in all things and all things in God. God is the beginning and the end of all things, the Alpha and the Omega! Everything comes from God and everything goes back to God! There is meaning, purpose and direction even in creation!
The gospel and the second reading also tell us that God reveals himself in other religions, especially in Judaism! That is why we have to dialogue with other religions, especially with Islam.
Finally, the gospel and the second reading tell us that God reveals himself fully, completely and perfectly in Jesus Christ! Thus the gospel ends by telling us that the law came through Moses in the Old Testament (old grace), but grace and truth, that is, love and faithfulness (Jn 1:16-17; Ex 34:6; CSB; NJB; CCB), came through Jesus Christ in the New Testament (new grace)! That is why we have to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in season and out of season!
A blessed Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.