Christ is born! This day, said the angel, is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And so today, this day, we celebrate the mystery, not merely as a recalling of a distant historical event, but as present joy, a present revelation of the grace and love of God, a present re-entry into the great mystery of “God with us,” of God become man for our salvation. The grace of this mystery is communicated to us this day, whether or not we have visions of angels. For Christ is in our midst as the Coming One who has come, who brings to us the good news of salvation, the Gospel of joy.
Our prayer as we have been awaiting his coming is the prayer of the Prophet Isaiah: “O, that You would rend the heavens and come down…to make your name known” (64:1-2). We heard in yesterday’s Gospel that
Let’s go to the place where a few chosen ones did take notice. It was a field on the outskirts of
Then the heavenly apparition spoke: “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” The shepherds were utterly astonished, beside themselves in awe and wonder. If someone said they would see greater things they wouldn’t have believed it. Yet suddenly, they saw a greater thing. Not only one heavenly messenger, but a whole multitude appeared to them! Truly the heavens were torn open to manifest the entire angelic choir, who praised God saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased!”
The shepherds then did two things: they sought the face of God and they became evangelists. First they said: “Let us go over to
So then they became evangelists. Actually, the angel was the primary evangelist. The angel (angelos, “messenger”), brought good news (evangelizomai, literally, “gave a good message,” same root as evangelion, gospel). But when the shepherds found Him whom they were seeking, they “made known [to Mary and Joseph] the saying which had been told them concerning this child.” Perhaps you could say they were “preaching to the choir” at this point, but when they left, they went on glorifying and praising God and telling anyone who would listen all that they had seen and heard.
Perhaps the shepherds went away singing the glorious canticle of the Prophet Zephaniah: “Sing aloud, O daughter of
What exactly is He restoring? In the original context it was the material riches and glory and the esteem of the nations that the Israelites had lost after their exile to
Finally, I came across another text, a hymn to Our Lady, which concisely summarizes the mystical essence of this feast: “Angels were seized with amazement and mankind fell silent in awe at your birthgiving, O Mother of God.” This is a feast of both worshiping Him in silent awe and in singing praise with angelic amazement and joy.
Come, then, let us adore Him silently in our times of solitary contemplation, and for now let us, with the Prophet Zephaniah, sing aloud and rejoice with all our hearts. For the Lord is in our midst. Let us glorify Him with thanksgiving for the immeasurable price He paid to take away the judgment against us, to change our shame into praise. Who else would have done this for us sinners? Who else could have done it? Who is like God? A God so powerful He became a baby in a manger! A God so pure He bore all our filth in his own body on the Cross! A God so righteous He took away the just judgments against us and turned our shame into praise! Do you want to know what God is like?—that is what God is like!
Christ has come to restore our long-lost likeness to God, so that we can claim the heavenly