The Nativity of the Lord
Merry Christmas! My Christmas gift to you is a trick question that can be used as an evangelization tool with friends and family during the Christmas season: How many of the Gospels refer to the Incarnation in their opening pages? Many people would say that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke tell the Christmas story. Most know that Mark does not refer to Christmas. But many forget, or have never noticed, that the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel refers explicitly to Christmas in its declaration that “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.”
Matthew and Luke focus on the details of the event, while John focuses on the meaning of the event—Jesus takes on human form and the human experience, which means dying and being born. On a day of solemn and wondrously joyful celebration, full of light, John’s Gospel, which is supposed to be used for all the Masses on Christmas Day after the first one in the morning, introduces a dark note. I was struck some years ago by a creche I saw in a parish church here in Connecticut. A cross lay on the roof of the stable, clearly visible—a reminder that Our Lord, in his humanity, dies so that we might all live forever.
But Christmas’s light and joy are a part of Saint John’s Prologue: “All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
God our Father, help us to find Christmas joy in knowing that “to those who accept him, [your Son] gives power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.” Amen. (John 1:12-13)