Dear brothers and sisters,
The Lord is here and wants to enter your world a little more. He wants to speak to you tonight and help you with the things that make you suffer. Listen well and think about these events that are before us. A virgin has a child by the power of the Holy Spirit!!! Today there are many fourteen year old girls who give birth, but this one is very, very different. Also there is no room for the Holy Family in the hometown of Joseph, even among his relatives. And there is no evidence that they are anxious or worried about their situation. I get the sense that they are filled with joy.
In front of the manger in your house it’s good to pray about these mysteries, which we so often take for granted, and think and reflect about them. What is God saying to you and to me tonight? What is he saying to you about the one who is sick in the family, or about a fight you had recently, or that you find yourself alone? Listen well to the Scriptures during these days and God will enlighten you.
How do you think we know of these events surrounding Christ’s birth? Was it one of the apostles that knew Jesus’ family and took some notes? Probably not, but this is not to deny what is recorded in the Scriptures and the little that I know about this points to Mary as the source. It makes sense that what she knew was not made public until after her death. Probably for decades these stories we told orally and handed down from one family to the next. They are written in two of the gospels so that we may believe
A virgin birth and a man raised from the dead, never to die again are two incredible events that show the real power of God. He is a God who acts, and not just a God of ideas. These two events usher in a new creation; they change the world and the cosmos. To the modern world this is a total scandal. When you read the gospels you see how Christ speaks and someone is cured or the seas are calmed or the demons expelled. So let’s take a look at a few things that Mary and St. Luke want to tells us tonight.
Mary’s obedience nine months ago makes today possible. And the Church has always said that the same is true for you and me. In the sense that if you believe this Word of God tonight Christ can be born again in you and grow in you so that we can become a mature Christian, one who has the spirit of Christ, not just one who goes to church or who has received Confirmation. Mary said yes, she obeyed, and you and I can do the same tonight.
Luke tells us that the whole known world was at peace. There was a common language, a common law and property and only at that time was it possible for a message of universal salvation to enter the world. Luke sets a historical and theological setting for these events. The birth of Christ is not a myth, but has a precise date and geographical place when the world was at peace and there was a universal census.
There are many things that could be said but let’s focus on just a few. Jesus was born in a cave, an unworthy place, smelled of animals and poop, but gave the Holy Family the privacy they needed for this birth. Joseph came to his own town or the town of his family that was maybe a few thousand people in those days. And his own received him not. For the savior, the creator of all things there was no room for him. Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the son of man has no where to lay his head. From the moment of his birth Christ belongs outside the realm of what is important and powerful. Yet this unimportant and powerless child proves to be the truly powerful one. A Christian in some way leaves behind all that the world says is important.
In the basilica built over the place of Christ’s birth the main door was lowered so that horses could not enter and it has remained the same till today. You have to bend down to enter this church, which means to understand what God has done for us we need to be small, childlike, innocent.
In the 2nd Century the Romans turned a cave in Bethlehem into a shrine to Adonis to suppress the Christian cult. This shows how important this cave was to the early Christians. Local traditions are often more reliable sources than written records. Eastern iconography shows the swaddling clothes of the child as bandages that prefigure the hour of his death. The manger is like an altar in these icons and so it is transfigured from a place where animals feed to the place where we can be nourished by the true bread of life, which makes us fully ourselves. This manger points to the altar where we receive the true bread from heaven.
Also why are there always an ox and a donkey in the stable? If you read the very beginning of Isaiah the prophet it says: the ox knows its owner and the ass its master’s crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. Habakkuk says in the midst of two creatures you will be recognized. So all Christian icons adopted this at a very early stage and no crib is without an ox and an ass.
Brothers and sisters, let us reflect about what God is saying to us in this event. His Son became one like us so we can become like him. He came to serve and not to be served. Let us ask his help today that we can live a little more for the others, and not for ourselves.
The parish is grateful to those parishioners and friends who generously donate to help meet our needs. Although our renovation costs and utilities are high, our budget is as modest as we can make it. The parish relies especially on Christmas offerings, which can be made directly or through our online WeShare at https://stjosepher.churchgiving.com Your help makes it possible for us to meet the needs of the parish and to do the work of evangelization. Thank you for all your support especially in these
closing days of the civil calendar.
The first part of the blog is below in Spanish:
Queridos hermanos y hermanas,
El Señor está aquí y quiere entrar un poco más en tu mundo. Él quiere hablar contigo esta noche y ayudarte con las cosas que te hacen sufrir. Escuche bien y piense en estos eventos que tenemos ante nosotros. ¡Una virgen tiene un hijo por el poder del Espíritu Santo! Hoy en día hay muchas niñas de catorce años que dan a luz, pero esta es muy, muy diferente. Tampoco hay lugar para la Sagrada Familia en la ciudad natal de José, ni siquiera entre sus parientes. Y no hay evidencia de que estén ansiosos o preocupados por su situación. Tengo la sensación de que están llenos de alegría.
Frente al belen de su casa, es bueno orar por estos misterios, que a menudo damos por sentado, y pensar y reflexionar sobre ellos. ¿Qué te está diciendo Dios a ti y a mí esta noche? ¿Qué te está diciendo sobre el que está enfermo en su familia, o sobre una pelea que tuviste recientemente, o que te encuentras solo? Escucha bien las Escrituras durante estos días y Dios te iluminará.