The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas), December 25, 2017
IS 62:1-5; ACTS 13:16-17, 22-25; MT 1:1-25 and IS 9:1-6; TI 2:11-14; LK 2:1-14 and IS 62:11-12; TI 3:4-7; LK 2:15-20 and IS 52:7-10; HEB 1:1-6; JN 1:1-18
Reflection by Kevin J. Wangler
SO MANY READINGS! There are four Mass settings for Christmas: “At the Vigil Mass,” “Mass During the Night,” “Mass at Dawn,” and “Mass During the Day.” Oh, and two of those – the Vigil Mass, and the daytime Mass, have two gospel readings from which to choose, too. Picking just one upon which to reflect seems like cheating, so here goes: what do all these readings have in common? Surely no one is expected to attend all four Masses, so there must be a common message that we hear, regardless of which one we choose, and regardless of which gospel reading the celebrant selects, right?
I tried to take a shortcut by using technology. I used an online tool to generate a word cloud of every single word from all 14 readings. (That’s the image you see included in this email.) What would stand out? Words like “God” and “Lord” – no surprise there. But another frequently recurring word was “light.” Other words like, “will” and “shall” and “come” and “people” stood out. Artificial intelligence would have us believe that an analysis of the reading boils down to something akin to, “God shall bring light to the people.”
And you know what? That’s not a bad synopsis for half-a-minute’s worth of work. It cuts through the gory details of the dreaded genealogy reading, glosses over the whole how-the-heck-did-a-virgin-give-birth-to-the-son-of-God question, completely leaves out Joseph and mangers and shepherds and angels, and really distills is to that simple statement: God shall bring light to the people. And so He has: He sent us His only son, Jesus. Today, we celebrate his birth, the coming of our savior. God has brought us light – let us rejoice!
On this most blessed Christmas Day, we pray: Lord, thank you for sending us your son. We thank you for the many blessings you continue to bring us, even the ones we fail to recognize. We praise you, we glorify you, we adore you. Jesus is born, alleluia!