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Christmas at Last
The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)
Mass at Dawn
When the angels went away from them to heaven,
he shepherds said to one another,
“Let us go, then, to Bethlehem
to see this thing that has taken place,
which the Lord has made known to us.”
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, blessed are we at the dawning of this most holy day! With Christmas comes emotions unlike on any other day. Our hearts and minds are stirred with memories from Christmases past. May we be given a unique grace of warmth and tenderness so that, like the Blessed Mother, we may embrace the Body of Christ and hold you close to our hearts. May the joy of celebrating your birth, which physically took place over two-thousand years ago, give us hope for celebrating your triumphant and joyful physical return in the future.
- Awaiting: A band of rough-hewn, uneducated, sheepherders huddled together around a campfire. These most unlikely candidates were entrusted with the news that the entire universe had been awaiting since before time began. Why them? Did their keen eyesight, with which they kept vigilant watch, attract God? Their entrepid spirits that enabled them to take on a lion, wolf, or bear in order to protect their flocks? Or their humble hearts that told them it was better to go together in haste than to try to go it alone to see what was happening? Whatever the reason, they were chosen and they responded to what had been announced to them by the angel. We, too, are chosen. Why? Only God knows all the details and the reasons. But we are. Will we not grow weary and keep vigilant watch over those we love? Be bold to defend the vulnerable? And stir each other up to go together in haste and do all that has been revealed and asked of us? Lord, give us a shepherd’s heart.
- Amazing: After personally encountering Christ and the Holy Family, the shepherds were transformed. Suddenly they were no longer out in the fields living their solitary lives among the sheep, but they were making “the message that had been told them about the child” known. “All who heard it were amazed.” Encounters with Christ change us! Forever! And that is the most compelling story we can ever tell–the story of how meeting him, experiencing him for ourselves, and seeing his impact in the lives of others changes us! The shepherds had no pulpit. They just told the news with exuberant joy to whomever they met, and God blessed it. Let’s be bold and tell of our own encounters with the Lord–whether quiet or spectacular–because others may be transformed by our transformation story.
- Adoring: The young woman who knew no one in town, was unable to find a room, and gave birth on a stable floor–blood, water, straw, and Divinity all mixed together–was now the “talk of the town,” in a good way. Until now, the Mother of God had endured shame, disgrace, and hardship due to ignorance and misunderstanding. But now, this one night was all starlight and angel wings, baby’s breath and shepherd’s joy! Mother Mary, help us to keep these golden star-kissed moments in our hearts. We will reflect on them again and again, knowing that all too soon, dear Blessed Mother, a sword will pierce your heart. But now–today begins the dawning of a new day for all mankind. “Praises be to God. Hallelujah! Glory to God in the Highest!” We joyfully whisper in the Child Jesus’s ear with you today, “We adore you.”
Conversing with Christ: O Jesus, happy birthday! Shepherds and angels, we praise and sing with you on this glorious day. Jesus, be born in us today, and may Christmas joy fill our hearts, fill our minds, and forever be on our lips! Amen!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will praise you with my whole heart, with my loudest voice, and in whispers only you can hear, “Glory Hallelujah!”
For Further Reflection: Listen to Francesca Battistelli, Be Born in Me.
Melissa Overmyer is a convert to Catholicism; founder of the Georgetown Women’s Bible Study and Something Greater Ministries; and author of Born to Soar, Unleashing God’s Word in Your Life, a weekly blog at www.somethinggreater.net, and daily posts on IGTV (melissaovermyer). She is working on her master’s degree in Theology at Augustine Institute.