Christmas Mass During the Day Year C
Loving God, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.
Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.
May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake.
This prayer, written by Robert Louis Stevenson, brings home to us that in the celebration of Christmas we share in the song of the angels. You may be familiar with the expression or idea of the hierarchy of being. This notion places all ‘beings’ in an order or hierarchy from the highest, clearly God, to the lowest, inanimate matter like rocks. This scholastic order has been around for centuries as a way of understanding where we fit into the whole spectrum of creation. Above us, in the hierarchy, are the angels. They are pure spirit, no matter at all, and yet in the letter to the Hebrews we read that God, no less, says: “let all the angels of God worship him”, because he is “far above the angels.”
So what gives us the right to even expect that we may share in the song of the angels? The answer lies in the gospel we just listened to. The beginning of the Gospel according to John makes very clear to his readers exactly who Christ is: “in the beginning was the Word.” John was the last of the evangelists to write. Mark began his story of Jesus with John the Baptist. By his genealogy, Matthew began the story of Jesus with Abraham, and Luke began it with Adam. John went back to where the bible began, “in the beginning”. Even then, the Word was. It had no beginning.
And yet, the Word became flesh. In other words, God became man. He lowered himself from the very top of the hierarchy of beings to become just like you and I. He knew firsthand what it was to experience life as we do. He didn’t stop there, of course. He also experience death in order to bring about our salvation, he delivered us from evil. He closed the door of hate and opened for us the door of love all over the world, and he did this in one simple yet profound way. He forgave our sins!
To quote from the song: “I believe forgiveness is the key to your own happiness”. Listen again to the prayer from Robert Louis Stephenson: May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven. In our opening prayer, we prayed “your Son shared our weakness: may we share his glory.” If we want to share his glory then we have to live as he would have us live and what he spent most of his time on earth doing was forgiving sins! How many times does Jesus say: your sins are forgiven, go in peace?
Close your eyes. Humour me, close your eyes! Now think of someone you hate. If you are struggling to think of someone you hate, think of someone who irritates you, someone who annoys you. Now imagine a life where you have forgiven that person, a world in which love abounds, a time where Christ reigns in your heart. What you are witnessing is nothing less than “the Lord baring his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” It really is that simple. If you can forgive, unconditionally, one person this Christmas, then you have allowed our God to reign, and what is more, you have brought meaning to the incarnation of God before us this very day!
If you chose not to forgive: well, close your eyes and think again!