Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord
During the Day
December 25, 2019 Cycle A
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
Sunday Reading Meditations
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Today’s Entrance Antiphon says: “A child is born for us, and a son is given to us.”
Every Sunday when we say the Creed, we repeat: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” Today, when we profess our faith, we all kneel at “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate” in order to be more aware of the content of the words.
“For us men and for our salvation”—Jesus was born for each one of us. What happened in Bethlehem was for us and for our salvation. He came for you and for me. He entered this world to illuminate our lives and fill our hearts with his grace. He came down from heaven to make us happy. The promised Messiah came to fulfill our lives. In today’s first reading, the prophet Isaiah says: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation” (Is 52:7)
Saint Augustine once said to his faithful: “Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man […] You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy.”
Happiness is not a perfect life but a heart filled with God’s grace. Psalm 73 says: “Whom else have I in the heavens? None beside you delights me on earth. Though my flesh and my heart fail, God is the rock of my heart, my portion forever. […] As for me, to be near God is my good” (Ps 73:25‒26,28). We can be happy even when we are going through hardship and failure: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? […] No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Rom 8:35,37).
Today’s Gospel says: “From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace” (Jn 1:16). Receiving God’s grace makes us happy. Happiness is to participate in God’s life: “[W]e saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14).
The reception of God’s grace brings peace and unity to our lives. We begin to perceive the harmonious design that leads everything to fulfillment in Christ, “who sustains all things by his mighty word” (Heb 1:3). When we see that “[a]ll things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be,” we see people and things in a new light: “Today a great light has come upon the earth” (Alleluia verse). Jesus’ birth introduces God’s light and glory into the world: “What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:4‒5).
To see God’s light is delight and responsibility. Like Saint John the Baptist, we are called to be witnesses to the light in a world where darkness often seems to dominate: “A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light” (Jn 1:6‒8).
“For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.” May the celebration of Christmas enlighten our lives with God’s light. May Mary, the Mother of God, help us to understand that Jesus was born for us. May we bear witness to Christ in our world.