Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Nativity Vigil

Matthew 1:18-24

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Barbara Barry

Published: December 24, 2017


Oh, Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining.  It is the night of our dear savior’s birth.

Silent Night! Holy Night!  All is calm, all is bright!

Expectation fills the air. Families gather in laughter and joy, feeling blessed – and probably a bit tired from the month’s long preparations. Yes, we sometimes get caught up in the hustle and bustle, the noise and the scurrying, the buying and wrapping, cooking and partying. But tonight we remember why.  We put candles in our windows and we decorate trees with ornaments that tell the stories of our lives together, to shout to the world – “Yes, we believe!” We give gifts to loved ones to recognize the God who dwells in them and to thank them for being present to us. 

Tonight we will tell again the story of a baby born in a manger, a poor child of poor parents who will turn the world upside down.  We’ve all had the experience of a baby being born into our family and thinking, what will she see in her lifetime or what will he do with his life.  We dream big dreams and have lots of expectations for this new life. And so it was with Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  Our stories tell us that Joseph had dreams and Mary heard angels’ voices. What lies ahead? And over the years, the expectations began coming true. 

Over the next few months our liturgies will share “the rest of the story.” This baby grew in wisdom and grace…and started challenging the status quo, started telling us what the messages of the scriptures really mean, showed us a new way of living and loving.  And all of a sudden the expectations were too much to bear. Who is this man? Isn’t he the carpenter’s son? What good comes from Nazareth?  How soon we forget. Now Jesus has the expectations of us.

Christmas is only part of the Christian story. To be whole, we must also celebrate Good Friday, Easter and Pentecost. To be true to the meaning of Emmanuel – God with us, forever.    

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