The First Reading from the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord--During the Day:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, “Your God is King!”
Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the LORD restoring Zion. Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the LORD comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem. The LORD has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.
I did a little digging into my archives, looking for inspiration for this year's reflection. My research showed I have not used five of the twelve readings proclaimed during the Liturgy of the Word for the various Christmas Masses which can be celebrated, as has been my wont for the past few years. Two of them were the Gospels for the Mass at Dawn (the continuation of St. Luke's nativity narrative) and During the Day (the prologue of St. John). Two of them were the other readings from the Vigil Mass. That left this one, which, after mulling it over, I have opted to use.
This will also be an exercise in lecto divina. Unlike other attempts, where I usually just take things as they come, I discovered when I was reading this passage things didn't grab my attention until the end. So this time, while it might look like a hodgepodge, I hope it will make sense at the end. (As a gentle reminder, I hope you use this for your own point of departure for contemplation and meditation. I am not a pro at this.)
The LORD has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations. What He has promised from the time of the Fall, God has now delivered. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, true God and true man, who sits at the right hand of the Father, has now come down to earth from Heaven. Emmanuel--"God is with us"--has been revealed, first to the Chosen People through their representatives, the shepherds; then to the Gentiles through their representatives, the Magi.
The LORD restor(es) Zion; He redeems Jerusalem. His birth marks the beginning of the end of the process of redemption, culminating in His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. He came not to condemn the world, but to save it, to give His life as a ransom for the many. The Lamb of God, born in a cave used as a stable, will become our Pascal sacrifice for the remission of sins, Original and personal.
The LORD comforts his people. It is Jesus who "brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, 'Your God is King!'” His message of love and assurance, needed then as now, was so radically different that it drew both rants and raves. It divided people in His time (as He said it would); it does so in ours. Why is that? Is it too good to be true? Yes and yes. It is too good and it is true. Our fallen nature still recognizes goodness and truth. We have to utilize His grace to incorporate it into our lives; we have to do our part to be saved.
Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy (and) break out together into song. Christ's work did not end when He ascended into Heaven. It started in earnest at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon His Church in the Upper Room. We, the Mystical Body of Christ, are the new sentinels. The People of God have to continue the Great Commission found at the end of St. Matthew's Gospel. We have to do the evangelizing now: bring glad tidings, announce peace, bear good news, announce salvation, and say, "Our God is King." And we have to do it with joy, so "all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God."
The "greatest story ever told" ends at the Second Coming. While we know the ending, we are still writing the chapters leading to it. And what is our inspiration?
Hodie Christus natus est.
It is enough.