The twelve readings from the Hebrew Testament, the New Testament and Gospels for the various Masses for Christmas offer a rich and impressive collection of Scriptures for meditating on God’s incarnated desire for our redemption and salvation in Jesus. The Gospels for the Vigil, Midnight and Dawn all speak to the birth of Jesus, either through reciting his genealogy or recounting a story surrounding his arrival as an infant in Bethlehem.

It is only the Gospel reading for the Mass of the Day that breaks this pattern (Jn 1:1-18). Here the evangelist John starts not with Jesus’ birth, but rather with why he was born. He situates Jesus not as a baby, but as the One who “was the Word … with God … and was God.” In addition, John writes that nothing that is or was or will be could come to be without this Word. The Word is life and light.

John the Baptist crying out in a desert of unbelief, one not all that different from our own today, testified to the Word, the Light, who is Jesus. God so loved the world that, in Jesus, God’s desire to bring all humanity into union with each other and with God’s, became visible and incarnate in Jesus. For John the Evangelist, Jesus was not only human, but carried within him the divinity from which he came. This creative divinity was manifested in his words, in his miraculous actions and in his gift of self that seemed to end in the shedding of his blood on the cross.

But neither God’s desire, nor Jesus’, ended on the cross. Rather, through the Resurrection, the sending of the Spirit, and the Eucharist, both continue today as a clarion call for the compassion, generosity, acceptance, inclusion, mercy and love that lead to the union with each other and with God that God desires.

This Christmas, as we look at the many depictions of the miracle in Bethlehem and at the trio of Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus, let the evangelist remind us that the invitation to draw closer, to touch the tiny hand and feel it grasp our finger, is the same invitation that God extends to all of us to draw closer to the divinity hidden in all human flesh and blood around us. Through Jesus we are invited to bring our humanity, in whatever condition it presently exists, to the God who not only made us, but who has loved us so much as to give us this very human Jesus.

— Blog entry by Sister Joyce Lehman: Photo by Jimmy Larry on Unsplash

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