+TODAY IS BORN OUR SAVIOR Christmas Midnight 2021
A freelance writer, Valerie Schultz, tells the story in Give Us This Day, of how she as a young woman brought a baby to midnight Mass. She thought the baby would sleep right through it but the church was hot and crowded, and when something startled her she cried, and cried.
Valerie tried to nurse it on the sly but this didn’t work. As a young and inexperienced mother she was mortified as she received smiles and some frowns from those around her and finally had to leave the pew. Later she came to realize that a baby crying at midnight was exactly why they were all there.
Mary and Joseph in our gospel story did not expect Caesar Augustus to decree the whole world to be enrolled. Joseph going up from Galilee to Judea with Mary now many months pregnant was not the best of times but decided that this is what they needed to do.
Then there is no room in the Inn. Mary begins to feel the contractions that tell her and Joseph the time for giving birth to her firstborn has come. Wrapping him in swaddling clothes as best she could, she lays him in a manger, the feeding trough for animals serving as a crib. Just then angels appear to poor shepherds in the fields nearby. To these low income workers is born the good news of great joy. From caring for their sheep, they suddenly become the messengers of great joy, that a Savior has been born for the whole human family.
We too, live in unexpected times when there are lots of tensions in our government and even within the Church. The US president and Medical authorities are warning us all about the new Covid variant, its potential to spread. In our own State of Kentucky, we have just been exposed to some of the most destructive tornadoes of our history. And it is the low income people who are struggling the most, and yet as others reach out to help, they experience a loving Presence in their lives. It is right in the midst of all this, like the baby crying in the arms of its mother during midnight Mass, that a Savior is being born for us, a Child given to us.
Isn’t this the deepest meaning of the very Eucharist we celebrate at this sacred table. Right here as wafers of unleavened bread and a few cups of wine become the very Body and Blood of God’s most beloved Son, we are given to share in the deepest meaning of all of creation. God’s eternal Word, having taken on our human flesh allowed his life to be handed over in sacrifice on a cross out of total love for each and all of us. Having entered completely into our human condition, Christ wants nothing so much as to share his very own joy, love and divinity with us.
Let us then be filled with gratitude this night, not only for what Jesus has done but for being so near to each one of our human lives, like the baby being held and embraced in its mother’s arms.
(Isaiah 9:1-6; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14)