There are four masses traditionally celebrated for Christmas, each with its own readings:
— the vigil mass with the gospel which includes the genealogy.
— the Mass during the night (missa in nocte) known in English as Midnight Mass with the gospel that includes Bethlehem, Shepherd, angels, etc.
— the mass at Dawn which few parishes celebrate. Its focus is Jesus as the light come into the world.
— lastly, the mass on Christmas Day.
This is no mass for romantics. There are no shepherds, no angels, no mangers, or animals. The mass on Christmas Day is the mass for the adults.
The gospel for Christmas Day is the prologue to the Gospel of John, Perhaps the most power statement ever written about the identity of Jesus.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. 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.
The Book of Genesis opens by telling us that god spoke and the universe came into being.
John tells us that the Word through whom all things came into being was Jesus.
Genesis tells us the first thing created was light.
John reveals that The Light which no darkness could ever overcome is Jesus.
Life itself came and comes through Jesus.
The universe was created by the Father but through the Son. Jesus became incarnate and was born of the Virgin Mary at a specific time and place. But he existed outside of time and space with the Father and the Holy Spirit, before creation ever began.
Some Christians act as if we worship the Bible as the word of God. St. John reminds us that the definitive Word is not a book.The ultimate Word is a person, Jesus whose birth into our world we celebrate today.
The God of Christianity is not the greatest power in the universe. He is more than that. He exits beyond the universe, beyond creation, above creation. In comparison to the grandeur of God, the universe is a snow globe.
And today we celebrate our Christian belief that all of that was emptied into time and space, into a human life called Jesus. And why would God do that? He did it so that we might be able to share in his divinity. He did it so that we might become more than simple creatures. He did it to make us truly sons and daughters.
This year we have 20 days of Christmas and perhaps we need all 20. Perhaps with 20 days of Christmas, we might just begin to grasp what this birth meant and who we are called to be. Together as the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, perhaps we in 2019 we can show the world that we are that light which the darkness cannot overcome. He is the head, we are the body. The two are inseparable.