Today a Saviour has been born to you
There's a different gospel for each of the Christmas masses, but in the gospel for Midnight Mass Luke describes the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1-14). The details of the birth, in Nazareth when Quirinius was governor, with a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger as there was no cot at hand, means that this is no myth but an event in time, even if some of the historical details are a bit shaky according to commentators.
What is surprising, and shocking (the shepherds were ‘terrified'), about Jesus' birth - and we now know who he is because of the build-up, especially by John the Baptist - is the nearness of God, as a helpless infant. Infans, incidentally, is the Latin for someone unable to speak. Augustine in one of his Christmas homilies makes the striking comparison between the infant born to Mary unable to say a word, and the Word made flesh.
Rowan Williams points out that a God who is so near to us is one who values beyond all our imagining the fact that we are human. So our humanness becomes something of immeasurable value, a value expressed in the other person who is always a reflection of the Other who is God. Christmas is the good news of what humanity is called to be. God is not a distant autocrat and humanity is not a lost cause. Williams urges us to be amazed by the nearness of God at Christmas.
A very warm Thank You to all those who joined us for these Advent reflections. May Jesus illumine your lives this Christmas and those of all you meet, especially the ones you find difficult. Jesus is near to them too.
A meditation written Fr Paul Graham O.S.A., Assistant General on the Augustinian Council for Northern Europe, including the Provinces of Ireland, England & Scotland, Poland, Germany, Austria and Slovakia
Follow the Order of Saint Augustine (O.S.A.), Province of England and Scotland
Take a moment to treasure up all these things and ponder them in your heart (cf Luke 2,19)
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. Col 4:6