December 29, 2015

Nativity: December 29, 2015


"When the angels went away from them to heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
'Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.'
So they went in haste." (Luke 2:15-16a)

The “shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went in haste.” (Luke 2:15-16a) “The shepherds made haste. In a similar way, the evangelist had said that Mary, on receiving the angel’s message about her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy, went ‘with haste’ to the town in Judea where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived (cf. Luke 1: 39). The shepherds made haste, partly no doubt from human curiosity, in order to see this great thing that had been announced to them. But surely, too, they were driven by their joy on hearing that now, truly, the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord had been born, the one so long awaited— and they would be the first to see him. How many Christians make haste today, where the things of God are concerned? Surely if anything merits haste— so the evangelist is discreetly telling us— then it is the things of God.” [11]

God had promised to send the Messiah. The chosen people sang of the promise (Psalm 132:11). The great Isaiah reminded them again and again of the promise (Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:1-7, Isaiah 52:13-53:12). The prophets that followed renewed the promise (Jeremiah 23:5-6, Micah 5:2, Zechariah 9:9). Over and over, to every generation, the Father promised to send His Son. When God makes a promise, God always comes through on His promise—always. The shepherds lived within. They could see God active in their lives. They knew God would come through on His promise. So they went in haste to see the Messiah.

Christmas reminds us that God came through on the biggest promise He ever made … and, what a promise. Listen to the beauty of the words we pray at Mass:  “For you do not cease to spur us on to possess a more abundant life and, being rich in mercy, you constantly offer pardon and call on sinners to trust in your forgiveness alone. Never did you turn away from us, and, though time and again we have broken your covenant, you have bound the human family to yourself through Jesus your Son, our Redeemer, with a new bond of love so tight that it can never be undone. Even now you set before your people a time of grace and reconciliation, and, as they turn back to you in spirit, you grant them hope in Christ Jesus and a desire to be of service to all, while they entrust themselves more fully to the Holy Spirit.” [12]

The shepherds ran, and ran in haste, because of Him who awaited them. The one who liberates humanity from sin awaited them. The one who reveals the mercy of the Father awaited them. The one brings “glad tidings to the poor” awaited them. He who “was sent to proclaim liberty to captives” awaited them. He who would bring “recovery of sight to the blind” awaited them. He who was sent “to let the oppressed go free” awaited them. (Luke 4:18)

Merry Christmas. Again today … yes, again today, we proclaim: Merry Christmas. “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) He awaits you … not in Bethlehem, per se … but, in your heart … within. He is searching for you. He wants to see you. He longs to bring you freedom, forgiveness, and peace. God has promised that He would always be there for us … and God always comes through on His promises.

Run to Him. Make haste and run to Him. Mercy awaits. Freedom awaits. Peace awaits.

For your prayer

The Psalms are the sacred music of a chosen people. The Psalms were written as songs to praise God. Imagine how the shepherds would have sung Psalm 139. Begin by slowly reading Psalm 139:1-16. Read it a few times. Imagine the shepherds singing this Psalm as they ran in haste to see the Messiah. Now, prayerfully imagine the scene in Luke 2:15-16a. Be in the scene. Be with the shepherds as they run. 

Today's prayer

Father, I long for peace. Give me the grace I need to find you and your mercy where I most need it."

[11] Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, pages 78-79
[12] Preface, Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation I, Roman Missal

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