CHRISTMAS MIDNIGHT MASS: Is 9:1-6; Ti 2:11-14; Lk 2:1-14
The Gospel for the Midnight Mass tells us how Jesus was born in Bethlehem and how the news of his birth was first announced to shepherds by the angels.
Since David was a shepherd, it seems fitting that the shepherds were given the privilege of visiting David’s successor in the stable. If these shepherds were the ones in charge of the Temple sheep and lambs which were meant for daily sacrifice in the Temple of Jerusalem, no wonder they were chosen to be the first to see the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world! Shepherding was a lonely, dirty job, and shepherds found it difficult to follow all the obligatory religious customs. Hence, they were scorned as non-observant Jews. So Baby Jesus selected these marginalized people to share His love at the beginning of his earthly ministry. The shepherds expressed their joy and gratitude by “making known what had been told them" (v 17).
Is Christmas a message of joy for us. ? And do we pass that joy to others as the shepherds did?
What can you do this Christmas to avoid disillusionment?
How can we improve our level of joy this Christmas? The answer is found in the story of the magi in Matthew 2. Magi, wise men from the East, saw a star that indicated the birth of a new king in Israel. Wanting to honour Him with gifts, they set out on a journey following the star to find this new born King. From the attitudes of these wise men and the events that surrounded their journey, we see how we can raise our level of joy at Christmas.
There are three lessons we learn from this story.
I. What do you seek?
Your level of joy at Christmas is directly related to what it is you seek.
Ask the question: What is it I want to get out of Christmas? What is it that would make your Christmas wonderful and satisfying? Snow? All the family together and happy? Finding the right present to give? Getting the present you have been hoping for? The problem with all these is that they can leave us disappointed.
Have you ever had that kind of experience - when you were disappointed by Christmas because it did not deliver what you thought it would? The problem is not Christmas. It is in our expectations. We are looking for the wrong thing.
The magi show us how to increase our level of joy at Christmas by looking for the right thing. What was it they were looking for? They came to Jerusalem and said, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him." They were looking for Jesus. Christmas for them was an opportunity to worship Jesus.
That is what we need to be looking for and expecting this Christmas - an experience of worship, a fresh glimpse of He who was born King of the Jews. If our goal this Christmas is to worship Jesus, then we will not be dissatisfied with our experience.
II. Where do you look?
Your level of joy at Christmas is directly related to where you look.
We learn from the magi that there are wrong and right places to look for Christmas. They started by looking in the wrong place. They looked where their own human reasoning said they should look. The star indicated the birth of a new king in Israel. The magi went where kings should be born - to the palace of Herod the Great. But what a mistake that was! When Herod heard of the birth of a new king, he jealousy sought to destroy him.
We, too, are tempted to look for joy at Christmas in the wrong places. We think by getting or giving the right gift we will be satisfied. We imagine that being with family will be joyful. All these can easily disappoint us. You may not be able to afford the right gift for a loved one. Family members may be missing from your holiday celebration. If you are looking to these things for joy, you may be left with a feeling of disillusionment.
The magi looked in the right place when they looked to God. The trip to Jerusalem was not a total loss. While there they discovered where they should have looked in the first place: the Bible. The scribes in Jerusalem said that, according to the prophet Micah, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. With this new information, they looked again at the star and followed it to Bethlehem until it stood over the house where the child Jesus lived.
III. What do you give?
Your level of joy at Christmas is directly related to what you give.
The magi came to Jesus' house bearing gifts. The gifts they gave were entirely appropriate. They gave gold, gift for a king. They gave frankincense, a gift for a priest. This was incense the priests used in Temple. They gave myrrh, gift for the dead. This was a fragrant ointment used to anoint a body before burial. By giving it they acknowledged that Jesus had come to die for the sins of the world.
We ought to give appropriate gifts this Christmas as well. We ought to give the gift of our love and kindness to our friends and family. We ought to give the gift of our help to those who are hurting. We ought to give the gift of forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Giving these kinds of gifts will result in a joyous and meaningful Christmas.
Christmas really happens that moment when we open up our hearts and receive God’s Christmas Gift that was given to us two-thousand years ago. It is when we turn our heart into a manger and we allow Jesus to be born anew into our life. During this night let’s resolve to help Jesus be born in our hearts and family this moment by opening our hearts wide like Mary did by saying her BIG AMEN.