Patrick Duffy looks at when and why a feast celebrating Jesus's birth began to be celebrated on 25th December and what different scholars have to say about that.
Summary: As this is Christmas Day, it is worthy of note that the birth of Jesus is hardly every referred to as a ‘saints’ birth but rather the Saviour’s birth.’ We will not be offering you a summary of his life but rather a short reflection taken from a piece by Thomas O’Loughlin of our homily team.
Not everybody shares our Christian joy today or enjoys it equally. Some fear it because they are alone, lonely or feel left out. Some are away from their family or are unwanted by them. Others again are poor in a time and place of plenty. Others may be suffering persecution for their faith in Jesus or ridiculed in an culture of Santa Claus and commerce. These attitudes and more are contained both in the Bethlehem and Calvary scenes. Today we focus on the joyful and hopeful side but we also remember that the shadow of the cross was also there. In a quiet moment today look into our heart and our Nativity creches and try to identify with some of the characters we find there.
‘1. Try to imagine yourself as one of the people inside the inn? For this group the birth of Jesus is an irrelevance: it does not touch them and they show no interest. To them it was just an external knock on the door, and they just kept going on with what they were doing. Then as now, this is the majority of people.
‘2. Do you place yourself among the shepherds? Here are people who are open to wonder. They can accept good new. They are people who are already part of a faith tradition, they shared the practices, hopes, and fears of the people, but were also ready to respond with faith to the voice of God.
‘3. Do you imagine yourself as one of the wise ones, the kings, who came from the east? These are people who are dedicated to searching out the great human questions, but they are not just engaged in idle speculation: they set out and searched for the truth. They listened to the promptings of conscience; they did not come empty handed. These are dedicated searchers after the truth and conscientious doers of the good. All their talents they are placing in the service of God-with us.
‘4. Do you imagine yourself like Joseph: caring for the welfare of the church, working in the community, taking on special responsibilities towards the Word made flesh. He is helping to make the good news known, and prepared to response to the inner call of vocation.
‘5. Do you imagine yourself as sharing in the vocation of Mary?
She first brought the Anointed One into the world; but it is
through us that Jesus enters our world.
‘6. We are all at the birth scene: each of us is called upon to fulfil all these vocations in varying ways.’ Because of today we can all be saints
We hope you have a joyful and peaceful day today.