Merry Christmas

12-25-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

To you and all those you hold close in your heart, I wish a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a wonderful and peaceful New Year! - Father Brian

When it is sunny, crisp and clear in New England on Christmas morning, when you leave church which is decorated in rich and green colors with the Manger as a focal point, do you feel like all the ends of the earth had seen the glory of the only Son, coming from the Father, filled with enduring love.  

In our first reading for Christmas Day, the prophet Isaiah tells us about the return of the Jews from exile and darkness to the holy City of Jerusalem.. There are three lenses used in this reading: the messenger who tells us, the guards and citizens who hear and rejoice and also the whole entire world which sees the power of this Great God of Israel. Imagine: even the actual footprints of the messenger are blessed. The guards at the City’s wall can see the messenger coming who is making a joyous announcement. And then finally the Lord Himself comes to comfort the broken people and also to rebuild the ruined city of Jerusalem.

This is why the rest of the world stands by and watches and then marvels at God’s holiness and strength. This is one of meanings behind the great statement: “All the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God!”

The Gospel is also glorious as it begins in the heights of heaven with news of glory, light eternity and triumph. How it begins tells us something quite powerful. The words start: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” This echoes the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis “In the beginning God created….”This opening reminds us of the first words of the Bible: “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth …” This makes true the statement that God was before time and will be for all time. And the Gospel adds this great truth: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” 

Christmas is the celebration of a profoundly human event; in fact it is an encounter with the humanity of Jesus. In many and various ways the Feast of Christmas illustrates how the God who created human beings to know, love, and serve Him recognized that human beings could not know, love, or serve a vague celestial reality. Thus, God became a human being in Jesus, God took on flesh. With the Feast of Christmas, the Church celebrates the experience of our God being a human being in a unique, concrete manner. The greatness of this Feast of the Infant Jesus is really about how all of this transcends time and space and ultimately brings us eternal life in heaven. The joy of Christmas is that as we live out the message of Jesus we will one day share the joy of heaven with our loved ones and the one eternal God. 

Father Brian