Christmas Day | Friday 25 December 2020
Today is Friday the 25th of December, Christmas Day. Everyone at Pray As You Go and Jesuits in Britain would like to wish you a very Happy Christmas.
The Sixteen Choir and Orchestra, directed by Harry Christophers, sing, “For unto us a child is born” from Handel’s Messiah. As you listen, can you enter into the joy?
We will hear today’s reading in two parts today, with a reflection after each. Place yourself into that first Christmas scene now as you hear today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke...
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
This is not just a story that you’ve heard read today. You’ve seen it in Christmas cribs and nativity plays. It comes laden with memories, laid down year after year. What’s your first reaction to hearing these familiar words again on this occasion?
In his “Spiritual Exercises”, St Ignatius invites you to imagine yourself helping out this poor couple, far from home, having their baby in a rough shelter. Can you get some sense of what that would be like? What would you do?
It’s safe to say that shepherds on Judean hillsides didn’t encounter choirs of angels every night. How would you react if you found yourself in their shoes?
Listen now to how the story continues.
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
The shepherds leave their hillside to go and see what’s happening. Luke writes the story in such a way as to invite you to go with them. What might you expect to find? What do you find?
The shepherds spread the news of what’s happened. Mary simply treasures and ponders it. What’s your own response to what you’ve seen here?
Find someone to speak to here – the infant in the manger, his mother Mary, Joseph, the shepherds or even the angels. What is the more important thing that you would want someone to hear you say here and now?
We hope that you have a wonderful day full of the peace of Christ and the joy that the Incarnation brings. Audrey Assad ends our Christmas Day time of prayer with the song, ‘Bells’.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.