Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born [this day] of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.”
Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.”
Herod, when he realized that the scholars had tricked him, flew into a rage. He commanded the murder of every little boy two years old and under who lived in Bethlehem and its surrounding hills. (He determined that age from information he’d gotten from the scholars.)
That’s when Jeremiah’s sermon was fulfilled:
“A sound was heard in Ramah, weeping and much lament. Rachel weeping for her children, Rachel refusing all solace,
Her children gone, dead and buried.”
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Is 9:1). “An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds] and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Lk 2:9). This is how the liturgy of this holy Christmas night presents to us the birth of the Saviour: as the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness. The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery, and ushers in joy and happiness.
We too, in this blessed night, have come to the house of God. We have passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame of faith which illuminates our steps, and enlivened by the hope of finding the “great light”. By opening our hearts, we also can contemplate the miracle of that child-sun who, arising from on high, illuminates the horizon. Continue reading “Homily of Pope Francis on Christmas Eve – 24 December 2014”
Image: The Flight Into Egypt. James B Janknegt, 2008 (20 x 16 inches, oil on canvas)
Matthew 2:13-20 [The Message] After the scholars were gone, God’s angel showed up again in Joseph’s dream and commanded, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay until further notice. Herod is on the hunt for this child, and wants to kill him.”
Joseph obeyed. He got up, took the child and his mother under cover of darkness. They were out of town and well on their way by daylight. They lived in Egypt until Herod’s death. This Egyptian exile fulfilled what Hosea had preached: “I called my son out of Egypt.” Continue reading “First Sunday After Christmas”
Probably not everybody in Europe is aware of the paranoia of the American Religious Right on the so-called ‘war on Christmas’, which, to be fair, is as pathetic as some secularista obsession with anything smelling religious (except, of course, the ‘secularist religion’). No other agency seems to be more entrenched in their cultural crusade for ‘saving Christmas’ that the (very) right wing TV station Fox News.
Diana Butler Buss points out in this excellent article in The Huffington Postto two problems with the Fox News campaign:
1. they seem undisturbed by the consumerist mood promoted during this season; probably the consumerist ‘religion’ is very compatible with the their fundamentalist worldview.
2. they seem to forget that Christmas begins on the eve of 24 December and what the Church celebrates until then is the Advent, which they seem to completely ignore; do they wage a ‘war on Advent’? Or, maybe, the Advent, with its more sober mood, is not so ‘sexy’ for the consumerist agenda of Fox News?
There were the usual chanted liturgies and wafting smells of incense, but church services on Coptic Christmas Eve in Egypt were different this year.
Christians had to park their cars long distances away from their places of worship and pass through extra security cordons just to enter for the customary late-night Mass that begins festive celebrations.
…the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Jn. 1:4
This truth was no more apparent than in communist Vietnam this Christmas past! Some of my students led the charge below.
For the last two years authorities in Vietnam surprisingly allowed churches to hold some large public Christmas and Easter celebrations. When these were parlayed into effective evangelistic events, the authorities developed second thoughts. Christians, on the other hand, wanted bigger events. In Saigon they asked for the use of a 30,000-seat stadium. This was denied; a 3,000 seat venue a distance from the city was offered instead. Leaders declined this and were verbally promised a venue for 12,000. But the government refused to give written permission. Continue reading “Christmas Stories from Vietnam”
Amidst summer in winter, as temperatures in the last week or so ranged in the upper teens and lower twenties, people in Bethlehem were enjoying an Australia or New Zealand Christmas. In Palestine, the joy of Christmas is usually associated with the overall political and economic situation and with the health standing of family members and not necessarily with the number of gifts one receives. The joy of Christmas is also tied to peace but, needless to say, there is still no peace in the land of Christ’s birth. The prospects for peace, so many times mistakenly heralded by the most powerful leaders do not excite people here anymore. Palestinians are no longer excited by promises and speeches made by prominent politicians to bring about peace and serenity. Continue reading “Christmas 2009 in Bethlehem”
By the word of our Lord the heavens were made By the spirit of our Lord was life begun
By the wisdom of our Lord his laws were laid By the love of our Lord was born his Son
By the grace of our Lord mankind was saved By the power of our Lord the victory was won
With the coming of every Christmas, we witness the renewed paranoia of secularist vs. fundamentalist clashes over the presence of overtly Christian symbols in public places. This is true especially in America, but we find similar manifestations in other places in the world.
On the secularist side, people entertaining the outdated Enlightenment myth of public vs. private truths, would like to impose to everyone their supposedly tolerant views (obviously, tolerance over everything, except convictions of any kind).