Christmas Mass - December 25, 2019
”What does it profit me if Jesus is reborn in thousands of cribs all over the world
Verily, the most-awaited and anticipated day is finally here with us. Indeed, Christ is born to us this day. We have seen the glory and the magnificence of God radiating in the cheerful smile of the baby Jesus in the manger. Oh, what a wonderful scene to behold!. Are we not honored to have the Divine pitch His tent amongst us, although as unworthy humans?
As we celebrate and rejoice over the nativity of our Lord, we recall the mystery of God being unfolded in human milieu and ambiance. The great wonder and miracle happening for the divine to be incarnated in human flesh and blood.
History foretold centuries back being fulfilled in our time and setting. God proving the apex of His love for us (John 3:16) in concrete terms. The evidence of the hope for redemption (salvation) from the servitude of sin ultimately shown us in the form of the innocence and the purity of a baby in the stable.
Historically, Christmas was introduced on December 25th by Pope Julius (AD 353) to baptize or Christianised a popular pagan feast celebrated during the winter season (particularly in December after the winter solstice) by the Roman Empire. They celebrated what they called in Latin, ”Deis Natalis Invicti Solis,” (rendered in English as the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun) to honor the god of the Sun during the winter solstice.
In this same period the Roman soldiers celebrated the birthday of the god of virility (called Mitra). So generally, to honor their god of agriculture (named Saturn) the Romans called their winter holidays, Saturnalia.
Hence,when the relationship between the Church and the state (empire) grew stronger there was a conversion from polytheism to monotheism. That is, the Church succeeded in helping the pagans to have faith in the only one God in the birth of Christ. Eventually, in the sixth century the Emperor (Julianus) at the time declared Christmas as a national holiday to be observed by everyone in the empire.
Therefore, all the Christmas carols, gifts, Trees and lights trace their remnants to those pagan celebrations. It was in the thirteenth century that St. Francis of Assisi invented the first live Christmas crib/manger to help people to appreciate the birth of Christ in a real sense in their time and age.
So the word ”Christmas” is the English rendition of the Latin ”Christes Masse” (Christ’s Mass), since this was the only time in the Catholic Church year when a Midnight Mass was allowed. It was celebrated on midnight on the eve of Christ’s birth.
All over the world Christmas is celebrated by families, friends, individuals and communities to commemorate the Birth of Christ. So we celebrate the birth of the son of God who conquers sin and death. We make merry on this day because our redeemer (conqueror) has finally arrived. It is time to share and care. We rejoice with celebrations.
Remember the following:
Enjoy your holidays. Thanks a lot for your Christmas gifts, cards and treats. You are in my prayers. Love you all. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.