Next Sunday will be Christmas Day. It is many people’s favourite day in the year, and for many people it is especially a day for children to be at the centre of our family life. What does the Christian faith say about Christmas? It is found at the end of today’s first reading. Christmas is the day when we are delighted to say God is not a million miles away, but God is at the centre of our lives. God is simply with us. That is the meaning of the name the virgin gives her son at the end of today’s first reading from the prophet Isaiah: Immanuel, a name which means “God-is-with-us”.
It started when the angel Gabriel was sent to Nazareth to tell Mary she was going to have a son. That meeting in Nazareth is the centre of our faith. It tells us Jesus is fully human and fully divine. These words are easy to say, but they are almost impossible to explain. Let us not even try to explain. Let us simply be grateful for the message of the angel Gabriel, and hear the words of the opening prayer from today’s Mass, which are also the words we say when we pray the prayer called the Angelus:
Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection.
When I was young, we used to say that prayer in the morning, at midday and in the evening. In Catholic countries, the Angelus bell rang and everyone stopped and prayed silently. It reminded us of the central mystery of our faith. When Jesus was born, God became one of us. The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. That is what Christmas is all about, and our faith is built on it. If you really mean it, you are saying that you believe God is really close to us, really part of our lives, and He can never be taken away from us. Today is a time for quietly thanking God for coming close to us and staying close to us.
Download plan for daily Mass Readings here: Advent 22 readings (pdf)