RESPONSE REQUIRED, Christmas Day, Year B
While we sing “Silent Night” we are not to be silent. “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent…until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch.” Spiritual darkness has yet to be totally overcome. “Nations shall behold your vindication…You shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of the Lord.” The Church celebrates the wonderful mysteries of Christ throughout the year, “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord”.
Like Joseph we listen more carefully to the Lord, and especially in life’s more perplexing circumstances and situations. The mystery of the child Mary carried presented Joseph with a difficult decision. Only the word of the Lord spoken through the angel in a dream could help him. “Joseph, son of Davi
d, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” We too depend on the Lord’s guidance in life’s challenges and complicated human relationships.
Giving attention to the Lord’s plans, which transcend our own, as Joseph did, gives us a greater vision and plan to follow. “She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Joseph’s fears and anxiety quickly gave way to the challenge of taking care of Mary and the child. In listening more carefully, some may decide the plans they have been pursuing need to be altered or give way to the greater plan of God.
This is a reflective and prayerful time, which can lead to a response to the Lord like that of Joseph. Prayer and reflection on the mystery of God becoming one of us in Jesus can lead to seeing more into the spiritual light of Christ. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” We have to look beyond the darkness of the world of sin, and all that can keep us from seeing the spiritual light of Christ. As Isaiah said: “upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown”. The light of Christ shining in our life produces spiritual joy. “They name Him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”
Seeing the light of Christ in our life lessens the attraction of sin, and leads us to turn more firmly against sin, and to live in hope with Christ our Savior. “The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people as His own, eager to do what is good.”
Committing sin and evil, not knowing the Lord, and not doing good created fear in people. Seeking and receiving the revelation of the Lord removes such fears. A good kind of fear is the revelation of the Lord. The shepherds experienced this fear. Any great sight can create fear in people. There are good fears and bad fears. Some are fearful of what is good for them. People can be fearful of other people, especially those they consider greater than them, or out of timidity. That being true, the revelation of the Lord can create fear in people. “The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were struck with great fear.” Angels are powerful beings. They try to put those they appear to at ease. “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today…a savior has been born for you, who is Christ the Lord.” Realizing more who the Savior is for us increases spiritual joy.
This is a time for growing in holiness and living in the light of the Lord. The coming and presence of loving people creates love in others. The coming and deeper presence of the Lord creates holiness in us. Without loving people, we are forsaken. Without the Lord we are definitely forsaken. We know the Lord is always coming to us. The more we respond to the Lord’s presence the holier we become. “They shall be called the holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, and you shall be called ‘Frequented’, a city that is not forsaken.”
Our response to our Savior needs to be full of joy, faith, hope, love and worship. “In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, He has spoken to us through His Son…”
John’s Gospel sums up the mystery of Christmas. “In the beginning was the Word…and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh…and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”