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Christmas Day Mass: December 25, 2021

John 1: 1-18, or 1-5,9-14


By Rev. John Tran

The Gospel we read today is a very solemn one. The other possible gospels that can be read at Christmas are from Chapter 2 of Luke’s Gospel. They deal with the familiar story of Jesus’ birth: first, they talk about Jesus being born in a stable in Bethlehem, second, they talk of the shepherds to whom the angels appear in the fields and of the shepherds’ visit to the stable. These passages highlight the fact that the Son of God became human, became one of us. This puts us in touch with that fact that we can know something about God by observing Jesus Christ; we can know God better because God’s Son who looks like us can teach us what God is like in a way that we could not experience otherwise. These passages emphasize the human nature of Christ.


Yet the beginning of John’s Gospel is highlighting something else. It highlights the fact that though Jesus Christ has a human nature like us, he also has a divine nature like his Father. John wants to show that Jesus was truly God and that he existed in the beginning, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That Jesus, the Word, was, with the rest of the Trinity, creator of all that is, whether we think of earth, seas, trees, or animals and people. Before Jesus, people could see God in all his creation, but they were somewhat in darkness and could not see Him clearly. When Jesus came, he brought light and understanding; we could learn about what God is like by experiencing Jesus, and how he acted, spoke, brought healing and finally redemption. John puts us in touch not only with the stable and the shepherds, but also with the whole of the reality of Jesus: what he was before becoming human, what he was as a human being, and most importantly, what he is to us now, today.


God spoke to people before Jesus, for example, to Isaiah in the first reading. Isaiah had an experience of God in the thoughts God inspired Isaiah to write about: “all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.” God let himself be experienced mentally by Zechariah in the temple; by John the Baptist himself in telling him the message of repentance to preach; by letting the Virgin Mary see an angel and offering her the opportunity of being the mother of God; and lastly to Joseph that he would know that Mary’s story was true, and a little later, how to protect Jesus from Herod.


But now, we have something infinitely better: “...the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” And as Jesus grew and lived out his life, “...we saw the glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” John points out, “No one has seen God.” Yet John says that “the only begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him.” John does not describe what is going on at Jesus’ birth, rather John speaks of the reality of what that birth meant to the world and to us.


We often share the greeting ‘Merry Christmas’ with each other today and throughout the Christmas Season. But do we stop and consider just what that greeting means? Why are we merry? Merry in this sense is not just to be lighthearted or have a good time; rather it is to be Joyful, Grateful and at true Peace. Do we call to mind that we celebrate something that is new and extraordinary - unique in the history and experience of the world. God is with us, and God is in us. The whole nature of our world has been changed: God has not only created it, but now God has entered into it in a new way, a way in which we are made children of God, that we now share in his divinity though Jesus Christ. It seems to me that the Christmas carol,”Good Christians All Rejoice,” reflects well our new reality which makes us able to say ‘Merry Christmas.’


Let me conclude with some of its verses:


Good Christian men, rejoice,

With heart and soul and voice!

Give ye heed to what we say:

Jesus Christ is born today!

Ox and ass before Him bow,

And He is in the manger now;

Christ is born today!

Christ is born today!


Good Christian men, rejoice,

With heart and soul and voice!

Now ye hear of endless bliss;

Jesus Christ was born for this!

He hath ope'd the heav'nly door,

And man is blessed evermore.

Christ was born for this!

Christ was born for this!


Good Christian men, rejoice,

With heart and soul and voice!

Now ye need not fear the grave;

Jesus Christ was born to save!

Calls you one and calls you all,

To gain His everlasting hall.

Christ was born to save!

Christ was born to save!



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