Year after year we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and yet year after year, our world seems to be crumbling with atrocities being heaped upon the human race.
Listen to the words of a Christmas Day message from one John Paul II: “Wipe away, Baby Jesus, the tears of children! Embrace the sick and the elderly! Move men to lay down their arms and draw close in a universal embrace of peace! Invite people, O merciful Jesus, to tear down the walls, created by poverty and unemploy - meant, by ignorance, by discrimination and intolerance. It is you, O Divine Child of Bethlehem, who saved us, freeing us from sin.”
In our world today, those same evils prevail along with added horrible atrocities. So why do we continue to celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Christ Child, Prince of Peace? The reason is FAITH! Now, we know that Faith is believing what we cannot see or understand. And we are speaking of supernatural Faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Faith is “both a gift from God and a human act by which the believer gives personal adherence to God who invites his response, and freely assents to the whole truth that God has revealed. And the whole truth of our Faith is contained in the Bible as well as in Sacred Tradition. An example of Sacred Tradition is the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception which cannot be found in the Bible. It was Pope Pius IX who proclaimed Mary’s Immaculate Conception a Dogma of Faith back in 1854.
But getting back to the birth of Jesus, everything we believe about His birth can be found in the Bible, starting in the Old Testament. In Isaiah, chapter 9, verse 5, we read: “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, GodHero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”
In the New Testament, starting with Matthew’s Gospel, chapter one, we read about how Joseph was greatly troubled about Mary’s pregnancy and how the angel told Joseph in a dream it was OK to marry Mary and he was to name the baby Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.” Then what Matthew tells us in verses 22 & 23 is what our Faith is all about. We read: Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah, “A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel” which means , “God is with us.”
Again, another prediction of Jesus in the Old Testament. But what a declaration of our Faith: GOD IS WITH US! In chapter two, Matthew goes on to relate the Visit of the Magi, also known as the Three Kings who were astrologers led by the star to the Manger to pay homage to the Christ Child. What Faith the Magi had! They believed in something that was beyond their total understanding. Matthew goes on to relate The Flight into Egypt and the Massacre of the Infants which caused sorrow and fear to Mary and Joseph. Babies were being killed back then as babies are being killed today through the horrible evil of abortion. How we need our FAITH
today to keep us on the right path that our caring God wants us to travel!
In Luke’s Gospel, we read other details of the Birth of Jesus that are not in Matthew’s Gospel. In Luke’s account of the Announcement of the Birth of Jesus we read that it was the Angel Gabriel who informed Mary of the birth of her Son, Jesus. Matthew gives us no name of the angel. However, in regard to FAITH, Luke concludes his message to Mary by informing her that her cousin, Elizabeth, is also having a child in her old age. Angel Gabriel concludes this message saying; “for nothing will be impossible with God.” This is another declaration of our Faith; “FOR NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.”
Now the Liturgical word for the Birth of Christ is INCARNATION. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that Incarnation is “the fact that the Son of God assumed human nature and became human in order to accomplish our salvation in that same human nature. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, is both true God and true man, not part of God and part of man.” It is only through our FAITH that we are a able to believe this and not understand it.
I love how St. John expresses INCARNATION in his first chapter, verse 14a; “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” And again in ch. 2 verse 16, John tells us; “For God so loved the world the he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.”
Think of it. Jesus, Son of the living God, left His celestial home in heaven to be one of us — taking on our human nature with all its pain and sorrow. In the Bible, Paul’s letter to the Philippians ch.2 verses 6 to 10 give us a glimpse of what Jesus sacrificed for us.
No one could have loved more! It is our FAITH that enables that us to truly believe this without full understanding. Just think about it…We all have a purpose in life. And so did Jesus! His purpose was to be one of us in everything except sin so that we can know God personally, not as spirit that we cannot see. Jesus told us in scripture from John, ch. 10 verse 30: “The Father and I are one.” Again in ch. 14, verse 7: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will know my Father.” The Infant Christ Child was born to live poorly, suffer greatly, die a gruesome death on the Cross and RISE triumphantly. We will also rise after we die and be united with our loved ones in heaven, God’s celestial home, only if we live the life God wants us to live. So let us all be grateful and faithful to our Faith that we first received in our Baptism as well as the Grace we receive from frequent reception of the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Penance, or Reconciliation, throughout our lives.
To conclude, I encourage you to celebrate Christmas not through sentimentality but through the eyes of FAITH. DE COLORES!