Christmas Day – Year C
December 25, 2021 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Isaiah 52:7-10 | Psalm 98:1-6
Hebrews 1:1-6 | John 1:1-18
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
Welcome to everyone who made the special effort to join us today in the feast of the celebration of the birth of Jesus! As our Psalm stated: “A light will shine on us this day: the Lord is born for us. The Lord is King. Let the earth rejoice!”
Christmas is one of the greatest feasts for the Church. But is Christmas the greatest feast celebrated in the Church? The answer is no. Easter is the number one feast followed by Pentecost and then Christmas.
Where did the name Christmas originate? Well in Medieval times, the celebration of Christmas took the form of a special Mass celebrated at midnight on the eve of Christ’s birth. Since this was the only time in the Catholic Church year when a midnight Mass was allowed, it soon became known as “Christes Masse” in the language spoken in medieval times, and Christmas is derived from this.
And what about Santa Claus, the jolly man in the red suit who brings presents to children? He originated in Europe as Saint Nicholas and some scholars say there are four stages in life:
–you believe in Santa Claus
–you don’t believe in Santa Claus
–you are Santa Claus
–you look like Santa Claus
In our first reading, Isaiah receives some good news from the Holy Spirit to give to the Jews held captive in Babylon. They will be released and allowed to return to and rebuild their beloved city, Jerusalem. The Savior Jesus who is both the Messiah and the Suffering Servant will bring salvation to the world. Today’s psalm captures the feelings of those awaiting the arrival of Jesus by proclaiming that the saving power of God is now a concrete reality.
The Epistle to the Hebrews, the source of today’s second reading, was composed by an unknown author for a Jewish audience who had been expecting the arrival of the Messiah. The reading speaks of the continuity of Jesus with the message of the great prophets of the Old Testament who foretold the coming of Jesus.
In the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus announced the theme of his ministry by identifying with Isaiah as one who brings good news to the poor and liberation for those held captive, telling the congregation that, by his appearance in the world, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” When Jesus was born, shepherds went to see Jesus, and afterward, they spread the word glorifying and praising God. These men who were “blue-collar” laborers became evangelists and devoted worshipers of God.
Today’s Gospel reading is known as the prologue of the Gospel According to John. Although some Christians think the Bible is the word of God, the Bible itself does not say that. Today’s first reading makes clear that Jesus himself is the word of God, not a book. The Gospel of John adapted the concept of the logos as described by the First Century Jewish philosopher Philo, identifying Jesus as an incarnation of the divine Logos that formed the universe. The logos is the law that God in the creation of humans infused into them for their direction and preservation. It is distinct from purely human laws such as, “Stop at a stop sign” or “pay your taxes.”
The number one law of God is the very nature of God, described throughout the Old Testament as, “Full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, long-suffering and of great goodness.” The Christmas story was going to change the history of the world and bring salvation to millions of people. Christmas commemorates the birth of a savior who taught us what love looks like.
Love is the theme of so many Christmas stories. I’m a former elementary school teacher. One of teaching that I really liked was telling stories. Here’s a heartwarming Christmas story which was my father’s favorite, written by Charles Dickens.
There was once a man who did not like Christmas. His name was Scrooge, and he was a hard sour-tempered man of business, intent only on saving and making money, and caring nothing for anyone. He paid the poor, hard-working clerk in his office as little as he could possibly get the work done for, and lived on as little as possible himself, alone, in two dismal rooms. He was never merry or comfortable, or happy, and he hated other people to be so, and that was the reason why he hated Christmas, because people will be happy at Christmas, you know, if they possible can.
Well, it was Christmas eve, a very cold and foggy one, and Mr. Scrooge, having given his poor clerk unwilling permission to spend Christmas day at home, locked up his office and went home himself in a very bad temper. After having taken some gruel as he sat over a miserable fire in his dismal room, he got into bed, and had some wonderful and disagreeable dreams, to which we will leave him, whilst we see how Tiny Tim, the son of his poor clerk, spent Christmas day.
The name of this clerk was Bob Cratchet. He had a wife and five other children beside Tim, who was a weak and delicate little disabled child, gentle and patient and loving, with a sweet face of his own, which no one could help looking at.
It was Mr. Cratchet’s delight to carry his little boy out on his shoulder to see the shops and the people; and today he had taken him to church for the first time.
“Whatever has got your precious father, and your brother Tiny Tim!” exclaimed Mrs. Cratchet, “here’s dinner all ready to be dished up. I’ve never known him so late on Christmas day before.”
“Here he is, mother!” cried Belinda, and “here he is!” cried the other children, as Mr. Cratchet came in, his long comforter hanging three feet from under his threadbare coat; for cold as it was, the poor clerk had no top-coat. Tiny Tim was perched on his father’s shoulder.
“And how did Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchet.
“As good as gold and better,” replied his father. “He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people in the church, who saw he was disabled, would be pleased to remember on Christmas day who it was who made the lame to walk.”
“Bless his sweet heart!” said the mother in a trembling voice.
Dinner was waiting to be dished up. Mrs. Cratchet proudly placed a goose upon the table. Belinda brought in the apple sauce, and Peter the mashed potatoes; the other children set chairs, Tim’s as usual close to his father’s; and Tim was so excited that he rapped the table with his knife and carried “Hurrah.” After the goose came the pudding, all ablaze, with its sprig of holly in the middle, and was eaten to the last morsel; then apples and oranges were set upon the table, and a shovelful of chestnuts on the fire.
How Mr. Scrooge spent Christmas day, we do not know, but on Christmas night he had more dreams, and the spirit took him again to his clerk’s poor home.
Upstairs, the father, with his face hidden in his hands, sat beside a little bed, on which lay a tiny figure, white and still. “Tiny Tim dies because his father was too poor to give him what was necessary to make him well; you kept him poor,” said the dream-spirit to Mr. Scrooge. The father kissed the cold, little face on the bed, and went downstairs, where the sprays of holly still remained about the humble room; and taking his hat, went out, with a wistful glance at the little crutch in the corner as he shut the door. Mr. Scrooge saw all this, but wonderful to relate, he woke the next morning feeling as he had never felt in his life before.
“Why I am as light as a feather and as happy as an angel, and as merry as a schoolboy,” he said to himself. I hope everybody had a merry Christmas, and here’s a happy New Year to all the world.”
Poor Bob Cratchet crept into the office a few minutes late, expecting to be scolded for it, but his master was there with his back to a good fire, and actually smiling, and he shook hands with his clerk, telling him heartily he was going to raise his salary, and asking quite affectionately after Tiny Tim! “And mind you make up a good fire in your room before you set to work, Bob,” he said as he closed his own door.
Bob could hardly believe his eyes and ears, but it was all true. Such doings as they had on New Year’s day had never been seen before in the Cratchet’s home, nor such a turkey as Mr. Scrooge sent them for dinner. Tiny Tim had his share too, for Tiny Tim did not die, not a bit of it. Mr. Scrooge was a second father to him from that day, he wanted for nothing, and grew up strong and hearty. Mr. Scrooge loved him, and well he might, for was it not Tiny Tim who had unconsciously, through the Christmas dream-spirit, touched his hard heart, and caused him to become a good and happy man?
We can learn many things from this story:
–learn ing begins with listening. Without awareness, we cannot change. Mr. Scrooge listened to the spirit and changed his heart.
–humility enhances vision. Mr. Scrooge is truly sorry for having treated people badly.
–regret leads to renewal: use regret to change your ways and start over on a new course just as Mr. Scrooge did.
–asking for forgiveness shows strength, not weakness;
–it’s never too late to change!
Remember, the best time to plant a tree was ten years ago, and the second-best time is now!
Feliz Navidad! Merry Christmas! Amen.