This last week before Christmas is a time to respond to the Lord who calls us. To help our responding, I will suggest reflecting on the first chapter of Luke and of Matthew.
During this week do not try to put Jesus into Christmas. If I were in the pulpit, I would now be silent for a while. Do not try to put Jesus into Christmas! Jesus is already there. He is inviting us in. He has John the Baptist preparing the way for us by calling us to repentance. Jesus has made all the arrangements for us to come and to share in His joy.
We find a story in 2 Samuel 7, 1-16 about King David toward the end of his life. Now his kingdom is secure. He lives in luxury all because of God’s blessings over Him. God is still in the tent that brought the people through the Exodus. David wants to build a temple for God in thanksgiving for all those blessings. His advisor the prophet Nathan concurs.
Nathan goes home and when he sleeps, he dreams. The Lord says, no to David’s plan. It is God who has initiated all things. God has chosen and has established David in Jerusalem. Nathan is to say to David, “Should you build me a House? … Did I ask, “why have you not built me a house?… I took you out of the pasture…I will fix a place for my people Israel…I will establish the kingdom forever.”
The Lord assures David that he will maintain His presence among them. The Lord God will be present in the days ahead.
Jesus has revealed His presence among us. He is in Christmas. We only need to respond to that presence. Let us run through the opening chapter of St Luke and St Matthew.
Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. He introduces Him as the Messiah and the gives his pedigree – the Son of Abraham, the Son of David. The promise of God is in His DNA. Through an integral weaving of lines, we are shown that it was the hour of fulfillment. In Jesus God is with us to save us from our sin and our death. Jesus is Emmanuel.
Luke places us in civil history and intertwines the stories of John the Baptist with Jesus. They are cousins and John is six months older. Three people filled with the Spirit are featured, Mary the mother of Jesus and her cousin Elizabeth who is married to Zachariah. The angel Gabriel visits them. In their greetings and prayers we see who Jesus is. He is the Son of the Most High; He will be holy, the Son of God; He will be given the throne of David; the fruit of Mary’s womb for nothing is impossible with God.
Luke also gives us the first two Christian Hymns in his first chapter. We sing songs of praise that profoundly express the theology of Christmas, the Magnificat (1, 46-55) and the Benedictus (1, 68-79). It is the humble person who is open to the mercy of God. God is faithful to His promises of fulfilling His people, and by his power, He lifts them above the arrogant, the strong and the rich. In, through and with Jesus, the mercy of God will come to us for the fullness of life.
Jesus is already in Christmas. Put away your plans and humbly come to Him during this special time.
Father Lawrence Heiney is minister at Holy Angels Roman Catholic Church in Mount Airy.