This Sunday, Consecrate Yourself to Jesus for Christmas
Gifts wrapped and ready? Check. Stockings hung by the chimney with care? Check. Confession? We went on Wednesday. Mass? We’re going to try to go at midnight this year.
What’s left to do, according to the Church, on the great solemnity of The Nativity of the Lord? Consecrate yourself to Jesus Christ, and become his adopted sister or brother.
You’ll hear totally different tales, depending on when you go to Mass.
The Vigil Mass shows how Christmas fulfilled the longings of his Chosen People, the Jews.
- The Gospel lays it all out in the genealogy tracing Salvation History through twists and turns, through sinners, saints, warriors, prophets and Patriarchs, ending in “Joseph, the husband of Mary.”
- The Epistle reading has Paul in Acts proclaiming Jesus, son of David, in a synagogue.
- The Prophecy in the first reading is that Jesus will at long last “espouse” his Chosen people, after all their infidelities.
The Midnight Mass shows how Christmas opened salvation to the Gentiles, as well.
- The Gospel situates the story not in the history of the Chosen people, but in the history of their Gentile conquerors: The census of Caesar Augustus carried out by the official Quirinius.
- The Epistle is Paul declaring the savior Jesus Christ to Titus, the Gentile church leader in Crete.
- The Prophecy is Isaiah’s declaration that the light will shine on those who walk in darkness, and the Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero will be born.
Mass at Dawn describes the personal encounter with Christ we each need.
- The Gospel describes the shepherds rushing to his side and Mary keeping “all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
- The Epistle focuses on the privileged encounter with Jesus each of us has in baptism.
- The Prophecy in the first reading is a promise that the savior will come to “daughter Zion” to redeem us each.
Mass during the Day shows how Christmas happens finally and forever in heaven.
- The Gospel is the majestic account of Mystical Christmas, when “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
- The Epistle to the Hebrews gives another account of the Forever Christmas in heaven, where the Son is begotten of the Father, “the very imprint of his being.”
- The Prophecy from Isaiah says “all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.”
These Masses show us four roads that lead to the same place: The winding road through Salvation history, the unexpected trail blazed for the Gentiles, the way of baptism opened for each of us individually, and the road into the very depths of Being in God.
On Christmas morning we stand at a crossroads gazing down each of these roads and face one question.
The question is: Will you set out on the road with Mary and Joseph, with the shepherds and the magi?
Like the Jewish believers, will you say Yes like Joseph did, the latest in a line of yay-sayers? Like the Gentile converts, will you join the generations that look to Israel for salvation? Like the travelers in Bethlehem, will you look for an encounter with Jesus Christ, today? If you do, then, like the spiritual masters, will you join the mystical encounter in heaven where the Son is begotten of the Father for all eternity.
On Christmas, Jesus Christ gives us each a new identity, whether we are Jewish, Gentile, Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox. “Those who believe in the Lord receive a new title,” said Theodoret of Cyrus. “They are not called after Abraham or Israel or Judah but are named after the master, Christ. For they are called Christians by everyone, since they have put on Christ through the most holy baptism.”
On Christmas, Jesus Christ gives us a new life, too. Jesus Christ “is the beginning of our virtue,” says St. Ambrose. He is the beginning of purity, as he was for Mary. He “is the beginning of frugality, for he became poor, though he was rich. Christ is the beginning of patience, for when he was reviled, he reviled not again. When he was struck, he did not strike back. Christ is the beginning of humility, for he took the form of a servant, though in the majesty of his power he was equal with God the Father. From him each various virtue has taken its origin.”
But this only happens if you let Christmas be more than just a day of celebration, and make it day of consecration as well.
Christmas is a day to go to the creche, see for ourselves that God held nothing back, giving his very self to us, and say, “I have nothing to give you that you want, except for the only thing you have ever wanted: Myself. So I will give you that this Christmas. Today, tomorrow, and forever.”