The Feast of Christmas A

“God is with us.”

After long forty days’ preparation, we are here to celebrate Christmas, birthday of our lord Jesus. This began as we celebrated thanksgiving, everywhere Christmas decorations, lights and music. As Christians in the Church began with advent prayer, penance and sacrifice. This waiting and preparation picture in lighting different advent candles. Now it is complete. We were very busy doing different things, shopping, cooking, decorating and family coming together. Perhaps, it was wonderful time. This is a beautiful season. On this day, Jesus came to the earth as human beings to make us worthy of God. This is celebration of true God and true man, as our savior and redeemer, born little baby. This is the reason to rejoice.

Tonight’s vigil Mass gospel reading is long. In there, Matthew traces Jesus’ genealogy from Abraham. Though we often skip over these lists of names, the Gospel writers took great pains to compile the genealogies and to make several theological points in the process. Our Lord Jesus Christ was born of a line of ancestors whom Matthew arranges into three groups: 14 Patriarchs, 14 Kings and 14 Princes. The three groups are based on the three stages of Jewish history: i) the rise of Israel to a great kingdom by the time of David, ii) the fall of the nation by the time of Babylonian exile and iii) the resurrection of the nation after the exile. Strangely enough, the list includes a number of disreputable characters, including three women of bad reputation: Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba. Perhaps the Lord God included these women in His Son's human genealogy to emphasize God's grace, to give us all hope and to show us that Jesus is sent to save sinners. Thus, God's powerful work of salvation comes to us under the appearance of weakness. From the beginning, Matthew's account challenges our human expectations as to how God will fulfill our hopes for endless peace, justice, and righteousness. This was done to show that Jesus is truly a man. He had family, as all humans beings he ate and drank. He also felt joys and sorrows, pains and sufferings.

 

This is wonderful to see Christians’ making cribs to prepare themselves for Christmas. In this way, it becomes vivid on the earth the coming of Jesus. It was St Francis of Assisi who assembled the first crib in a cave on an Italian hillside. It was in 1293 that the first crèche was erected in the woods of Greccio near Assisi, on Christmas Eve. The crib was ready, hay was brought, the ox and the donkey were led to the spot. Greccio became a new Bethlehem. The aim of St. Francis was to make the Christmas story come alive for the people of the locality. His idea was to show them how close it was to them and their lives. And it seems that he succeeded.  St. Chrysostom has said, “The God has become son of man, in order to make us sons and daughters of God.”

But he is also true God. In his gospel, Mathew makes it clear. Before, Mary and Joseph came, she was found with baby. Joseph was confused and thought to divorce her. But in the dream appearing the Angel Gabriel told baby is from above, through the Holy Spirit. We also hear, when Mary went to serve Elizabeth in the hill country of Juda, filled with the Holy Spirit spoke out “How does this happen that to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me.”  Even Baby John leaped with joy in the womb of the mother. At the river Jordon, we hear “You are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” The Gospel chosen for the morning mass tells us how the word which existed from the beginning became incarnate for us and pitched his tent among us. John tells us that he is the light that shines in the darkness and takes away the darkness from within us. In all gospels, we find testimony of God. Jesus is picture of God on this earth. 

This is what we have to understand as we contemplate the scene in the Christmas Crib. That Jesus is the Son of God who adopted human form and who came into our world in order to submit himself to death by human hands. He did this so that in his resurrection he could turn everything to our advantage and so manifest his forgiveness of every human being. This is what Christmas means and it is of the utmost significance for the entire world. It is something that we celebrate and take joy in but it is also something that we know we must proclaim to all those who have not fully understood what it is really about. Our desire this Christmas is that the real significance of the feast permeates our whole lives and changes us. Our wish is that it makes us better people and turns us definitively away from sin. We also want the good effects it has on us to be transmitted to the rest of the human family.

When we continue our celebration, let us be ready to welcome him, look for him and you shall find salvation. True Salvation to the problem of the world is only in him. He only gives us ultimate meaning of life, pain and setbacks. let us read and listen to the word God, try to truly live in accordance with the teachings of Jesus, the Son of God that has come into us. Only then, we shall realize that, together, we could truly build a better world.  

A four-year-old girl went with a group of family and friends to see the Christmas lights, displayed at various locations throughout the city. At one church, they stopped and got out to look more closely at a beautiful nativity scene. “Isn’t that beautiful?” said the little girl’s grandmother. “Look at all the animals, Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus.”  “Yes, Grandma,” replied the granddaughter. “It is really nice. But there is only one thing that bothers me. Isn’t Baby Jesus ever going to grow up…? He’s the same size he was last year!”

 

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6th Sunday of the Ordinary Time A

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the

Law or prophets but to Fulfil.”

The Gospel reading just now we heard, states that Jesus came not to destroy the law but to fulfill it may have surprised his audience a great deal. This is because Jesus was constantly accused of breaking the law and finally the accusation at his death was that he was breaking the laws continuously. People observed that he did not wash his hands prior to the meal that the law demanded, he healed people on the Sabbath day, and now he speaks of the law with veneration and reverence that no Scribe or Rabbi could exceed. He tells them that not even the smallest part of the law will be changed and he is there to fulfill the law and bring it to completion. The word Law for the Jews during the time of Jesus held four different meanings. First was Decalogue or Ten Commandments which God gave from Sinai and Moses gave them to the people. The second was the Pentateuch or the first five books of the Bible. Pentateuch meant the Five Rolls, the basic law and for the Jews it was most important part of the Bible. The third was the Law and the Prophets which indicated the entire Scripture, comprehensively called as the Old Testament. Finally, the Oral or Scribal Law which included the religious practices and prescriptions observed by every Jew. These included all the observances like the Sabbath, the worship in the Temple, the fasting, prayer, alms giving and the like.

Matthew’s gospel was written primarily for Jewish Christians and today’s reading can be seen as words of encouragement for them. Matthew constantly refers to the Old Testament to show that the life of Jesus is not a breakaway from the past Jewish traditions but is a continuation of all that was foretold by the prophecies of the Hebrew Testament. The life and teaching of Jesus is not to be seen as a new religion; Jesus’ life is the natural development of the story of salvation. Matthew shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Prophesies of the Old Testament. He emphasizes the close relationship between Jewish Law and the teaching of Jesus.

When Jesus said that he has come not to destroy but to fulfill the Law he meant that he has come to indicate the real meaning of the Law. One great Principle that lay behind every prescribed law oral or written was that in all things a man must seek God’s will and that he must dedicate his whole life in obeying him. For Jesus the entire meaning is summed up in one word, namely, Respect or Reverence. He summarizes the Ten Commandments in this word, reverence to the person of God, to his name, to his day, reverence to the parents, respect for life, property, personality, respect for truth and to a person’s good name and finally respect for self. In other words, the entire law is said to be Reverence for God and respect for self and others. To be a disciple of Jesus it is necessary to realize the meaning of the law which is built on love.

Jesus did appreciate the Scribes and the Pharisees for their careful observance of the Law and the Commandments. But Jesus was critical of their not keeping of the spirit of the law. They stressed on their personal motive and their own perfection and did not accept the love of God and their neighbor in practice. They were hypocrites in their behavior. In order to make his disciples understand his teaching, Jesus gives six striking examples and in today’s Gospel, we have four of them: anger, adultery, divorce and oath. He clearly states that it is not enough simply to keep what the Law tells us but practice the basic virtues attached to them. For him there can be no separation between our relationship with God and the relationship with people. A Christian has to find God in his brothers and sisters and in creation.

On this day let us pray that we may grow in the love of God and one another living our faith.