— the vigil, which can be any evening mass before midnight
—Midnight Mass, the only mass in the calendar with not only a specific date but time as well
—Mass at dawn, celebrated in many counties as the Misa del Gallo
and finally, Mass during the Day.
If you wait to attend the mass during the day you will find in the readings, no Bethlehem, no Mary, no shepherds, no angels, none of the traditional images of Christmas. Instead what you will get is probably the most famous prologue ever written, the prologue to John's gospel (Jn 1:1-18).
In the beginning was the word,and the word was with God, and the word was God...
We are reminded that Jesus did not come into existence at Christmas nor even at the annunciation. Jesus, the second person of the trinity existed from all eternity and was the one through whom God made the universe. But this prologue does more, it answers the question why. Why was it from the beginning of time God's plan to make a creature, humanity, and then to send the second person of the trinity to be truly one of them?
His answer: But to those who did accept him he gave 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.
In the words of St. Anthanatius, in de Incarnatione, "God became man so that man might become God."
One third of the world's population is Christian, and the U.S, has the largest Christian population of all. With all of the power and influence we still have in the world, imagine how we could change the world if each one us simply chose to live our identity to the fullest.
Today may each of us recommit ourselves to waking up each morning and living each day as true children of God, and let us have the courage to challenge our Christian brothers and sisters to do the same. Jesus not only gave us the power to do it, as John says, but he made it simple, he boils it down to two commandments:
Jesus replied, "The first is this: 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'
The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
In this season of gifts what more could we want?