Our psalm response for Midnight Mass is, “Today is born our savior, Christ the Lord.” With great joy we gather here to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. We come to commemorate that event some 2,000 years ago when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. We are gathered here for “Christ’s” Mass. The Prince of Peace has come into the world and shares in our human nature so that one day we may come to share eternal life with him forever.
When we look around today, our surroundings are far different from the stable at Bethlehem. Most of us came here in heated cars. We were in heated houses before we began our journey, and we gather in a heated church. Tonight we’ll sleep in comfortable beds. Yet, we look into the creche and we find a reminder that God came among us and began his earthly existence in a humble stable. There was scandal surrounding his very beginning. The angels called out to the shepherds and directed them to the new born King. They came, now knowing what to expect.
As we gather here tonight, we are familiar with the rest of the story. We know about Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. We have heard the good news he proclaimed. We have had the time to reflect upon what these things might mean in our hearts.
Throughout (tonight) today, and hopefully for the full twelve days of Christmas, we will be opening gifts. Perhaps we’ll open a package that has that book we’ve been wanting to read. Perhaps, if we are a child, or child like, we’ll find the toy we’ve been wanting. Maybe we’ll have a package with new clothes, or tools, or . . . . whatever it is that we really want for Christmas. It is important to remember that these gifts pale in comparison to the gift of God himself.
When we look around during this time of year we see houses with all sorts of decorations. Some of the decorations are definitely winter in theme such as overgrown snowpersons. Others start to get a grasp of our celebration by bringing in St. Nicholas. They still miss the point, besides his feast day was earlier this month. And then there are some that portray the birth of Christ. The real reason for the season. The reason for the season is the joy that Christ brings into the world. This joy is our hope as we look to our own futures. What are the decorations that adorn our lives? As we adorn our hearts and souls, do we continue to make Christ the center of our lives, not just on special days like Christmas, but always?
It is God’s love for us, and ours for him, that leads us to keep Christ as the central focus in our lives. We hear in a letter from Leo the Great,
The mystery of this boon is great, dearly beloved, and this gift exceeds all gifts that God should call man son, and man should name God Father: for by these terms we perceive and learn the love which reached so great a height. (Leo 2026)
This great gift of God taking on flesh becomes even more present in our lives when we participate, not just in the celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas, but when we share in the fruit of that gift, the holy sacrifice of the Mass. Whenever we gather for Mass the baby we see represented in our creche is truly present in our midst in the Eucharist. It is with great joy that we gather, not just on Christmas, but in some places, daily for Mass. The Word is in our midst in so many ways. As you celebrate this Christmas season, don’t forget the reason for this season. Don’t forget it is the reason for our lives as we celebrate the gift and adorn our lives with Christ.
May God bless you.