December 25, 2016
by Eileen Burke- Sullivan
Creighton University's Vice-provost for Mission and Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

The Various Readings for Christmas

Celebrating Christmas

Christmas Desires Page

A Reflection on the Manger

Christmas Prayers

Pope Francis' Midnight Mass Homily 2016

Pope Francis' Christmas
"Urbi et Orbi" Message to the World 2016

The people who walked in darknesshave seen a great light; . . . While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.  . . . 

say to daughter Zion, your savior comes! . . .

When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared,not because of any righteous deeds we had donebut because of his mercy, . . .

So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. . .

The LORD has bared his holy armin the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God. . .  

in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, . . .

What came to be through him was life,and this life was the light of the human race;the light shines in the darkness,and the darkness has not overcome it. 

(Texts from the three Masses of Christmas).

These majestic phrases of hope are announced anew from ambos and pulpits all across the Christian world some 2000+ years after they were brought to fulfillment in an infant child, born of a poor Jewish woman.   As I prayed with them these texts opened the doors of my shuttered heart to hope.

This is the gift of Christmas.

The God who brought into being the universe, which the Hubble Telescope seeks to capture in images taken only now millions and millions of years after their coming to be; the universe so vast and so amazing, so changing and developing, so dynamic and magnificent that one can only stand in awe at the might of such a creator; this God comes to us in the presence and form of an infant human being.

This is the gift of Christmas.

As we gaze, in our prayer, on the face of this infant, born in poverty, into a world with no room for him in its hotels or government offices.  This child enters human time then and now to bring light to people who walk in the darkness of fear; to give hope to those who can see no end to suffering and difficulty; to bring courage and strength to those who know themselves to be weak and helpless.

This is the gift of Christmas.

God in his unlimited mercy has sent his only begotten son into time and place – then and now; into the world of sin and death – then and now; into grief and sorrow . . .  terror and shame, then and now. God has mingled time and the fullness of eternal joy into the person of the human/divine Jesus.  God has entered, enters and will always continue to enter fully into the time and place of us – all of us – God’s people.  God brings salvation from all that destroys us.  Today, in this village or town, farmhouse or city center, outback or capitol city, TODAY is born our savior, who is the promised one.

This is the gift of Christmas.

This is a night and the day when each one of us who takes the time to do so, can gaze into the face of the infant and see the light of hope, the power of courage and the energy to take up life and live it fully.  This is a night and a day to gather with family and friends, to sing or talk, to play games or to walk, to eat and share stories, but above all to notice one another, and to gaze lovingly into the faces around us and see God’s people, the people who walked in darkness but now see a great light.

Look into the fear and death that surrounds you or even fills your heart, and know that God is gazing at you from the heart of mercy, bringing light to darkness and life where there seems only death.  Know this: Christ reigns from the throne of your human heart if you give him room in the inn of your being.  His reign is mercy.  Rejoice oh Daughter Zion!  Your salvation comes through the love of a human - conceived and born - to disclose and share love alone.

This is the gift of Christmas.

May the this gift be yours today. 


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