The Nativity of the Lord

Posted on January 12, 2023 View all Gospel Reflection

Bethlehem is 6 miles south of Jerusalem, that is where the manger was.

The line of the hymn from “O Little Town of Bethlehem” goes:

“Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Jesus was born to provide the hope for saving humankind from mortal fear with his peace.

The sign, in Isaiah 9:5, is the Prince of Peace described as a child born, a son given, who brings peace with end. In Isaiah 26 peace refers to more than the political peace the Assyrians offered client states, the “pax Assyriaca.” This peace is “Pax Christi,” the peace that come with the Divine Presence, peace with God. This peace is given to those “of steadfast mind:” “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace- in peace because they trust in you,” Isaiah 26:3. A steadfast mind in this context means firm confidence, a firm trust in the Lord. source: The Bible Today, December, page. 342.

The shepherds said in Luke 2:15, let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

We, like the shepherds, can come to Bethlehem and behold Christ the Lord for ourselves in the Eucharist. Bethlehem, means “house of bread.” The Lord Jesus is already pointing to the unique gift He gives us in the Eucharist: a real and true Presence at every Mass, in Holy Communion, and in every Tabernacle.

Christmas is about Christ; it’s Christ Mass!

St. Ambrose, “Every faithful soul is Bethlehem…That is true bread which, after it was broken into bits, has fed all.”

Oscar Romero said, “We must not seek the child Jesus in the pretty figures of our Christmas cribs. We must seek him among the undernourished children who have gone to bed at night with nothing to eat, among the poor newsboys who will sleep covered with newspapers in doorways.”

A lady shared, “In 1968 the Catholic Interracial Council of the Twin Cities produced a remarkable Christmas card. The outside of the card was red-orange, and featured the words of the Benedictus: “From on high our God will bring the rising Sun . . .” Then you opened the card to find a stark black-and-white photograph of a small African-American child caught by a ray of sunlight as he sits listlessly in the shadows of a slum courtyard. Along with the photo was the rest of the verse: “to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” The contrast between the outside and the inside caused heads to snap back. My husband and I still think it is the best Christmas card we ever received.

Source: The two faces of Advent: John 1:6-8, 19-28 by Fleming Rutledge, The Christian Century, December 1, 1999

In conclusion, St. Augustine put it this way: “Be what you see and receive what you are.”  Patristic scholar Fr. William Harmless, S.J. suggests that St. Augustine had a deep fascination with the connection St. Paul made between the Body of Christ received in the Eucharist and the Body of Christ we become by consuming the Eucharist. Source: Most Reverend Joseph J. Tyson, Bishop of Yakima, Washington State.

Pope Francis prays: “I want to come to Bethlehem, Lord, because there you await me. I want to realize that you, lying in a manger are the bread of my life. I need the tender fragrance of your love so that I, in turn, can be bread broken for the world.