December 24, 2010


Christmas - Mass at Midnight
Luke 2: 1-14

True Love is Not about Me

Caesar Augustus decreed "that the whole world should be enrolled." It's typical for an earthly ruler to exercise his control over his subjects. Moreover, a census would give the emperor a count of the population under him and thus how much tax revenue he could expect.

The local governor Quirinius of Syria carried out the emperor's degree as he exercised his control over his territory. Obedience to the emperor was both his duty and the security of his job, and possibly even his life.

Earthy rulers subject others to their control.

It's not so with the newborn savior and those who are called to serve him.

The Son of God was born to Joseph and Mary. They were two ordinary people who obeyed earthly authorities [1] even though they had been told by the angel of their unique roles and special mission in God's plan. In their obedience to earthly rulers, they rendered the control of their lives over to God.

The Son of God was born and "wrapped in swaddling clothes." This practice was "to keep the limbs straight by mean of restraint" [2]. This one detail proves that the Savior, "though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance" (Philippians 2: 6-7).

The Son of God was then "laid in a manger" a humble indication that he himself is the nourishment for God's children [3]. In appearance, there is no glamor here.

The Savior's humble birth is the result of his obedience to the Father and of his love for humanity.

Thus, the angel's "good news of great joy" to the shepherds, "a savior has been born for you." In fact, the news of great joy is not for the shepherds to keep. It is "for all the people."

Yes, for the newborn Savior and those who are called to serve him, it is never about me!

It is then we give "glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

[1] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Gospel of Luke; Sacra Pagina Series. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1991; p. 52.
[2] Ibid.; p. 50.
[3] Francis J. Moloney, The Gospel of the Lord: Reflections on the Gospel Readings - Year A. Homebush, Australia: St. Paul Publications, 1992; p. 73.

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