First I will make some points on the history of the day. The day celebrates John 1. Jesus is the Word, the Word which is God. He came into being to be the life that was the light of humanity. “The Word became flesh, he lived among us.”(Jn 1, 14)
It was around 325 that the feast was first celebrated. At that time in Rome there was another new and growing religion that came from Persia. It centered on Mithra a god of light. His feast was celebrated a few days after the solstice when the days started growing longer. The light will overcome the darkness. They had great festivities. The Christians decided to have a counter celebration and gathered to rejoice in Jesus the light that shines in the darkness which cannot be overcome (Jn 1, 5.)
It would be St Francis in the 13th century who would make the Nativity of Jesus as the center piece.
Around 325 the Christians were in also in turmoil – how was Jesus divine? The Church leaders met to discuss it (they would meet three mpre times over 130 years). They would bring forth from the Scriptures teachings on the Incarnation and the Trinity.
This winter feat of life celebrated the Incarnation of the Son of God in flesh.
Enough of the lecture hall, we turn to God to rejoice for the gift of Jesus. Lift up your hearts in prayer and give God praise and thanks for it is right and just.
It is truly right and justice, our duty and our salvation
Always and everywhere to give you thanks,
Lord, Holy Father. Almighty and eternal God,
through Christ our Lord.
For through him the holy exchange that restores our life
Has shone forth today in splendor:
when our frailty is assumed by your Word
not only does human mortality receive unending honor
but by this wondrous union we, too are made eternal.
And so in company with the choirs of Angels
We praise you, and with joy we proclaim:
(Isaiah 6, 3)
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory,
Hosanna in the highest,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
Merry Christmas and happy year of the Lord 2016!
Father Lawrence Heiney is minister at Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church in Mount Airy.