Is 62:1-5; Act 13:16-17, 22-25; Mt 1:1-25
We celebrate the day when Jesus, the Lord of the Universe has come into the world to bring it back to God. It is the celebration of Joy, Hope and Peace. During the past 4 weeks of advent we prayerfully waited for his coming. This feast brings joy to the world which is filled with sadness and the angels now come to announce peace to those of good will. The message is to be spread and the shepherds are told to spread the good news to all. It is the day of hope. It brings hope to those people who live in hopeless situation, the poor, marginalized, depressed, lonely, and destitute. It is the day of peace when Jesus the prince of peace is giving peace to the world.
We had the three readings today each filled with deep meaning. Prophet Isaiah says that ‘ the people who were in darkness have seen a great light. A child is born to us, the prince of peace.’ In the second reading St Paul tells us that the grace of God is given to us and the Salvation has come to us all. In the Gospel we have the beautiful narrative given by Luke. It gives us the historical fact about the birth of Jesus. In the days of Emperor Caesar Augustus, Baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem to Virgin Mary who was engaged to Joseph. They go to Bethlehem their ancestor’s place and there as there was no room anywhere, they have to go and find shelter in a manger and there, Baby Jesus is born. In that environment, there is no one to help them, no servants, no one to give any support. There is no warmth to fight the cold. Mary wraps him in swaddling clothes and lays him in a manger because there is no room for them in the inn. He has only the warmth of the animals to fight the bitter cold.
Then there is the visit from the shepherds, who after receiving the message from the angels come to visit the baby. We may have the beautiful pictures and statues of the shepherds. But in reality they were the discarded ones of the society. No one showed much appreciation towards them. They were the hirelings and did not often care for the sheep. They now become the first visitors and the bearer of the good news to all. They carry the words of joy, love and peace to all and surprise every one.
There are the angels who bring the good tidings. They are chosen and sent by God to announce the good news. They announce to the shepherds that the savior is born and they show them the signs of his presence, namely poverty, emptiness and isolation.
We have the presence of Mary and Joseph. They had traveled a long distance and had come to fulfill the divine will. God in his plan could have avoided this event and Jesus could have been comfortably born in a warm house in Nazareth. But God does not change the plan even for the sake of his Son. Rather he wants his son to born in this destitution and Mary and Joseph become the silent coordinators in the divine plan. They accept God’s will and for Mary the annunciation is now fulfilled and she continues to say “Your will be done.” Both of them accept the word of God and live it to the full.
Finally we have Jesus, the creator; the Lord of all things is now in total poverty. The words in the letter to the Hebrews are now fulfilled, “ Here I am ready to do your will.” He could have willed the best of places yet he chooses to be born in a manger and there was no room for them in the inn. He chose this way so that we all may have the room for every one.
There is the story of little boys of fourth grade who were asked to act in a Christmas play. The teacher distributed the parts according to their size and aptitude. There was one boy slightly oversized but kind, and wanted to be a shepherd but the teacher because of his size told him to be the innkeeper so that he would tell Joseph and Mary to go away. He reluctantly accepted the part. The play started and the scene came when Joseph and Mary came to the inn and knocked. He said roughly, ‘Go away, there is no room.’ They pleaded again and again and pointed to the situation of Mary. Again but reluctantly told them to go away. Mary then slowly turned and cried on Joseph’s shoulders. The innkeeper was to go away and close the door. But he went to the door and waited. The teacher said, ‘Bang the door and go.’ He opened the door took a step in and then turned back and came to them. He touched Joseph and said, ‘Look there is no room in the inn but you can take my room.’
This is the spirit of Christmas. Whatever be the outcome of the play, the boy made it clear: ‘there is no room in the inn but take my room.’ He had plenty of room in his heart. Jesus had no room but he saw to it that all of us have the room in him and in him all of us are able to give place to others. That is the spirit of Christmas for us.
Sometimes we wonder whether we are on the right path. We see the crib so richly decorated with such beautiful velvet clothes, such splendor and modern outlook such ventilation and light. But at the first Christmas there were not enough clothes or enough facilities for the new born babe. Perhaps even Jesus would wonder whether it is the right place where he was born. But the spirit of Christmas still prevails, to have room for some one to bring joy in their hearts.
Dear friends, the joy of Christmas is an eternal joy, a joy that no one can take from us because it is the joy of Jesus Christ himself made present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The Lord gives us supernatural joy which no pain or sorrow can diminish, and which neither life nor death can take away. Tonight, we share in the joy of the shepherds. We all hurried here to Church to be with our spiritual brothers and sisters in Christ, these consisting of family members, friends, strangers, all who are present in the hope of celebrating the coming of Baby Jesus on earth. Let us make this day of Christmas a special day to bring joy in the heart of someone and make some one have room in our life and hearts.
Mount St. Joseph blog wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.