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Christmas Day

December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

Merry Christmas!!!

The Christmas Proclamation:

* The twenty-fifth day of December.
* In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world
from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;
* the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;
* the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;
* the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;
* the one thousand and thirty-second year from David’s being anointed king;
* in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;
* in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;
* the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;
* the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;
* the whole world being at peace,
* in the sixth age of the world,
* Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,
* was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
being made flesh.
* The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

Readings (Mass at Midnight):
Isaiah 9:1-6 (the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light)
Psalm 96:1-3, 11-13 “Today is born our Savior, Christ, the Lord”
Titus 2:11-14 (God’s grace trains us to reject sin while we anticipate Jesus’ Second Coming)
+ Luke 2:1-14 (the nativity and announcement to the shepherds)

Jesus came to show us the way.

Our Wonder-Counselor gives us perfect counsel so we know the right thing to do. Our Father-Forever advises us wisely as all good fathers do. Our Prince of Peace decrees holy laws to keep us safe in judgment and justice, training us to live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God (Titus 2:12-13). He sacrificed Himself for us–even in leaving the perfect splendor of Heaven to become Man–to redeem us from all unrighteousness, to cleanse us to be a people of His own, eager to do what is right (Titus 2:14). This guidance is the great light, a beacon shining into our land of gloom to bring us abundant joy and great rejoicing.

This is the work of a shepherd, leading his sheep to still waters and green pastures, correcting and protecting them even at the cost of his own safety, so they will grow strong and healthy. It’s no accident that the greatest king Israel ever had was tending his flock when God called him to the throne (II Samuel 16:11-13). As a shepherd boy, David had already put his own life in danger to rescue his sheep from the jaws of the lion, the claws of the bear (I Samuel 17: 34-37). He would later risk his life at the hands of Goliath (I Samuel 17:41-51), of the Philistine armies (I Samuel 18:27-30, II Samuel 5:17-25, etc.), and of every other enemy of Israel in order to protect God’s chosen people.

Over and over the prophets speak of shepherd-leadership (I Kings 22:17, Isaiah 40:11, Jeremiah 23:4, 25:34-36, Ezekiel 34, etc.); of good shepherds who sacrificially guide and protect their flock, of scattered people who are like sheep without a shepherd.

When the Good Shepherd came to rescue His scattered flock (see John 10:11-16, Hebrews 13:20, I Peter 2:25, 5:4), the shepherds in neighboring fields were the first to receive a birth-announcement. With prompt obedience they hurried to Bethlehem to find the Baby, to see and understand. They praised and glorified God for the Child Who would shepherd them (Luke 2:16-20).

This shepherd theme carries over to one final treasure hunt for the season. The candy cane is in the shape of a shepherd’s crook, a bishop’s crosier. Our bishops carry this staff as a constant reminder that they’ve been delegated to administer Jesus’ shepherd-leadership. This is the rod and staff that comfort us (see Psalm 23:4). Turned the other way up, a candy cane forms a “J” for “Jesus”. It is rock-hard, like the rock on which Jesus built His Church (see Matthew 16:18). It is pure white, even as our Good Shepherd is perfectly pure, just and holy. The red stripes symbolize His willingness to suffer for our purity, even to laying down His life (see Ephesians 5:25-27) as David risked his life to snatch his sheep from the jaws of the lion. The peppermint flavor also points to suffering and purification, since peppermint is said to taste like hyssop, an herb used in sacrifice (Exodus 12:22) and purification (Leviticus 14:4-7, 49-52, Leviticus 19:6, 18, Psalm 51:9, etc.). The number of stripes, 1 large and 3 small, point us to the Blessed Trinity, three Persons in one divine Nature. Our Shepherd is God Himself.

Our Good Shepherd has come, come to lead, guide and protect us. May rejoice in His light, flee our darkness, and follow the Lamb wherever He goes (Revelation 14:4).

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