December 25, 2016: Christmas, The Nativity of the Lord
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
The transformation of social relationships that responds to the demands of the Kingdom of God is not fixed within concrete boundaries once and for all. Rather, it is a task entrusted to the Christian community, which is to develop it and carry it out through reflection and practices inspired by the Gospel. It is the same Spirit of the Lord, leading the people of God while simultaneously permeating the universe, who from time to time inspires new and appropriate ways for humanity to exercise its creative responsibility. This inspiration is given to the community of Christians who are a part of the world and of history, and who are therefore open to dialogue with all people of good will in the common quest for the seeds of truth and freedom sown in the vast field of humanity. The dynamics of this renewal must be firmly anchored in the unchangeable principles of the natural law, inscribed by God the Creator in each of his creatures (cf. Rom 2:14-15), and bathed in eschatological light through Jesus Christ. (53)
Readings for Mass During the Day
First Reading: Isaiah 52:7-10
Psalm: 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6
Second Reading: Hebrews 1:1-6
Gospel: John 1:1-18
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Church thus confesses that Jesus is inseparably true God and true man. He is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother: “What he was, he remained and what he was not, he assumed”, sings the Roman Liturgy. and the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom proclaims and sings: “O only-begotten Son and Word of God, immortal being, you who deigned for our salvation to become incarnate of the holy Mother of God and ever-virgin Mary, you who without change became man and were crucified, O Christ our God, you who by your death have crushed death, you who are one of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us! (469)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Nativity of the Lord (Mass during the day), Cycle A, B and C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The promise of peace that runs through the entire Old Testament finds its fulfilment in the very person of Jesus. Peace, in fact, is the messianic attribute par excellence, in which all other beneficial effects of salvation are included. The Hebrew word “shalom” expresses this fullness of meaning in its etymological sense of “completeness” (cf. Is 9:5ff; Mic 5:1-4). The kingdom of the Messiah is precisely the kingdom of peace (cf. Job 25:2; Ps 29:11; 37:11; 72:3,7; 85:9,11; 119:165; 125:5, 128:6; 147:14; Song 8:10; Is 26:3,12; 32:17f.; 52:7; 54:10; 57:19; 60:17; 66:12; Hag 2:9; Zech 9:10; et al.). Jesus “is our peace” (Eph 2:14). He has broken down the dividing wall of hostility among people, reconciling them with God (cf.Eph 2:14-16). This is the very effective simplicity with which Saint Paul indicates the radical motivation spurring Christians to undertake a life and a mission of peace.
On the eve of his death, Jesus speaks of his loving relation with the Father and the unifying power that this love bestows upon his disciples. It is a farewell discourse which reveals the profound meaning of his life and can be considered a summary of all his teaching. The gift of peace is the seal on his spiritual testament: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (Jn 14:27). The words of the Risen Lord will not be any different; every time that he meets his disciples they receive from him the greeting and gift of peace: “Peace be with you” (Lk 24:36; Jn 20:19,21,26). (491)
Human activity aimed at enhancing and transforming the universe can and must unleash the perfections which find their origin and model in the uncreated Word. In fact, the Pauline and Johannine writings bring to light the Trinitarian dimension of creation, in particular the link that exists between the Son—Word — the Logos — and creation (cf. Jn1:3; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:15-17). Created in him and through him, redeemed by him, the universe is not a happenstance conglomeration but a “cosmos”. It falls to man to discover the order within it and to heed this order, bringing it to fulfilment: “In Jesus Christ the visible world which God created for man — the world that, when sin entered, ‘was subjected to futility’ (Rom 8:20; cf. ibid. 8:19-22) — recovers again its original link with the divine source of Wisdom and Love”. In this way — that is, bringing to light in ever greater measure “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8), in creation, human work becomes a service raised to the grandeur of God. (262)
John 1:4, 9
Christian realism sees the abysses of sin, but in the light of the hope, greater than any evil, given by Jesus Christ’s act of redemption, in which sin and death are destroyed (cf. Rom5:18-21; 1 Cor 15:56-57): “In him God reconciled man to himself”. It is Christ, the image of God (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; Col 1:15), who enlightens fully and brings to completion the image and likeness of God in man. The Word that became man in Jesus Christ has always been mankind’s life and light, the light that enlightens every person (cf. Jn 1:4,9). God desires in the one mediator Jesus Christ, his Son, the salvation of all men and women (cf. 1 Tim 2:4-5). Jesus is at the same time the Son of God and the new Adam, that is, the new man (cf. 1 Cor 15:47-49; Rom 5:14): “Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling”. In him we are, by God, “predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom 8:29). (121)
May Christmas 2016 beckon us to sing a new song, get out of the rut of superficial la, la, la and ho, ho, ho. A song not drifting away when Christmas lights dim, the tree top angel is placed in a box for the yearly slumber and stockings are cleared out of goodies. What new song does Christmas challenge us to sing? A song sung in harmony by people of faith and all people of goodwill. How do we make a 2000 year old story into a new song? Reading the Gospel and Psalm removed from the hoopla of Christmas absorbed in gifts, food and once a year charity challenges us to sing a new song every day of the year to reckon with the failure of the culture of violence in the world. For if we believe in Christmas, we are children of God. And our Savior born on the Holy Night would later proclaim blessed are the peacemakers who will be called children of God. Not the people with a one issue faith, the people condemning other religions, the people too pious to embrace relatives in irregular marriages, people whose riches blind them from seeing the poor, those trashing the earth in a disposable manner. The dynamics of living as peacemakers takes us to the humbleness of the stable, the foot of the cross, the empowerment of the Ascension and Pentecost. Peacemakers sing a new song living life with the freedom that the Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world. So peacemakers look at the world not absorbed in its sinfulness, but the refreshment of sins erased leaving a fresh slate to start anew where violence etched strife, judgment purged mercy, greed strangled human dignity. The paradigm exposed by the prophets doesn’t get rerun, but a totally new medium allowing a fresh start. We can choose to sing the new song or at least hum along to give it a try, instead of chanting a tired refrain that separates us further from God and one another. The new song will not be found in the hymnal, for a new song is only written on our hearts when we embrace the Holy Child born this day allowing us to bear good news, foster peace and glad tidings in the world.
Individual Reflection: Isaiah 52:7-10:
Plan a candle light walk with your parish and other faith communities to raise awareness of human trafficking:
Family Reflection: John 1:1-18
Share with your parish about CRS’s work with Caritas to be a light shining in the darkness, as the Holy Family had no place to stay and became migrants, today refugees are without housing:
Prayer: Select a Christmas Prayer to share with family and friends (Available in Spanish and English)
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born December 13, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.