What just happened? (Mass during Christmas Day)

After the frantic activity of Christmas Eve and birth of Christ, we take a breath and reflect.

Mass During the Day Readings: Isaiah 52:7-10; Psalm 98; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18

Beholding the Light in Silence (Christmas Midnight Mass)

Tonight we gather in silence, in stillness, and our hearts behold the light that has entered the world.

Midnight Mass Readings: Isaiah 9:1-6; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14

Christmas Proclamation

The formal proclamation of Christmas from the Roman Martyrology, chanted.

Text: https://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year-and-calendar/christmas/christmas-proclamation

Filling our Hearts with Hope (Christmas Vigil Mass)

We await our Savior, knowing that he will fill our hearts with hope.

Vigil Mass Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 89; Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Matthew 1:1-25

The True Meaning of Christmas

A year can certainly get away from you if you’re not paying attention. I was a bit surprised to find out that my last post was all the way back in January! Life gets busy sometimes, I suppose. Today I would like to share with you a brief meditation on the true meaning of Christmas that I prepared for an event with our school children today. I hope it brings light to your heart as we finalize our preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth.


In just four short days, we celebrate something amazing. We celebrate Christmas, the day that Jesus was born. With all of the music that we listen to, and with all of the shopping trips that we make, and with all the baking and cooking that we do, we can get lost and forget what the true meaning of Christmas is.

Christmas, you see, is about a little boy who was born nearly two thousand years ago. This little boy was quite special: he was no ordinary boy. This boy was born so that he could save all of us. Some of us might wonder: how can a little boy save me? And do I really need saving anyway?

The answer is yes! Of course we need saving! Sadness and sickness and sinfulness are all things that shouldn’t exist, but they do. And we need someone to help us get through these hard things so that we can be happy. And how does a little boy born two thousand years ago help us to be happy?

Like I said, he is no ordinary boy. This little boy was also the Son of God, is sometimes called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us. When this little boy was born, God came out of Heaven to visit us in our home on earth. This little boy grew up to be a strong man, and he showed us how to live so that we can be happy forever. He took all those bad things, and he showed us that they can’t control us. He showed us that we can love him and love God anyway, and that if we do that we can go to Heaven.

On Christmas, we remember that this little boy was born. And we celebrate the great gifts he gave us by giving each other gifts, by spending time with our families, and by praying and thanking that little boy for all that he did for us. The true meaning of Christmas is this: On this day, Jesus was born! Let us rejoice!

The Light Shines in the Darkness

Merry Christmas!

This year, I would like to share with you some texts that are ripe for meditation on the birth of Christ. On Christmas morning, I took a video of the sunrise for your viewing pleasure, and I’ve put a bit of music in the background to keep it exciting.

Texts for Christmas meditation

  • Magnificat and antiphon from Christmas Evening Prayer I
  • Prologue from the Gospel of John (Christmas Day Gospel)
  • Christmas Proclamation
  • Luke 2:1-20 (Knox Translation)
  • Selection from Pope St. Leo’s Christmas Sermon (Office of Readings on Christmas Day)

A Story to be Shared

As we approach the culmination of Advent and, on Saturday, celebrate the birth of our Savior, my thoughts turn to a story by Henry Van Dyke, the Story of the Other Wise Man. Artaban prepared to leave with the three other wise men, but missed them by just a few hours. He never managed to catch up, to them. While following the star he encountered people in need. He had sold all of his possessions to go on this journey and purchased three majestic gems: a sapphire, a ruby, and a pearl to give the king.

Artaban, when he finally reached Israel, became a wanderer throughout Israel and Egypt, always searching for the king he could not find. He consulted scholars, disciples, and sought him ought, but he could not find the king for whom he searched. He sold the sapphire and the ruby he had brought to give to the new-born king, who he did not know, to assist those in need, asking himself, “Should he risk the great reward of his divine faith for the sake of a single deed of human love?” (p. 16)

Finally, after 33 years of searching, “Worn and weary and ready to die, but still looking for the King, he had come for the last time to Jerusalem […] and something whispered in his heart that, at last, he might succeed.” (p. 29) Yet, in the final encounter of Artaban’s life, he surrendered the pearl, his final treasure, to save a poor, helpless soul in desperate need. He never made it to meet his king, who was being crucified that day, in fact, at that same moment. The other wise man’s final lament tragically proclaims, “Not so, my Lord! For when saw I thee an hungered, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw I thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? When saw I thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee? Three-and-thirty years have I looked for thee; but I have never seen thy face, nor ministered to thee, my King.” (p. 33) In Artaban’s dying moments, a sweet voice proclaims to him, “Verily I say unto thee, inasmuch as thou hast done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, thou hast done it unto me.” (p. 34)

This story speaks to me during this time of year for so many reasons. How many of us fear that we’ve only just missed to best moments? That if only we had been born a decade earlier, if only we had not fallen into a particular sin while young, if only I hadn’t made that one decision 30 years ago, that if only things were different I would be able to meet Jesus Christ face to face, that following him would be easier? How many of us, on the search to find Jesus Christ, look around us to see the world and the people around us, offering the poor souls we encounter the gifts we have? How often do we not recognize the face of Christ in these same people? How often do we seek to retain that joy of Christmas, only to find out that our journey to meet our King is going to be a life-long journey?

This story proposes so many questions to our hearts, uncomfortable and challenging questions. When we are wandering through the world, seeking an answer for the infinite longing of our hearts, we are like the great crowds in the Bible who sought Jesus: “many wanted to see Jesus, to be healed by him, to meet him.” (Luigi Giussani, Why the Church?, p. 20) Having taken on human form, Jesus could not have tended to all of his flock himself. “Unable to visit all the towns and villages, he began to send his closest followers to the places he could not reach.” (Giussani, p. 20)

We never know the power of our own witness to our faith in Jesus Christ. We do not know the impact it will have on the hearts of our family, our friends, and even ourselves. If Artaban had not met the disciples of Jesus, he would not have learned that “Those who seek [the King] will do well to look among the poor and the lowly, the sorrowful and the oppressed.” (Van Dyke, p. 27) If the apostles and disciples of Jesus had not gone to the ends of the earth, and if the story of Jesus, the story of God’s infinite self-giving love for all humanity, had not been told from generation to generation, none of us would have know. Our faith is a story to be shared, because in each unique story of coming to know Jesus Christ we see another side of his glory. We see another side of his love. We see another side of his mercy.

Contemplating the Christ child this Christmas, let us ponder the question: what is the love story God wants to write in my heart?

He is present here and now: here and now!

I find the works of Fr. Luigi Giussani to be particularly inspiring, and have found much spiritual good in the Communion and Liberation movement. This year, the Christmas Poster and its quote have struck me particularly deep, so I wanted to share them with all of you.

I’ve included the quote and the video presenting it below. You can download a PDF of the poster with its accompanying art (Winter Evening by Jean-François Millet) for printing, etc. on the Communion and Liberation website here: https://english.clonline.org/news/current-events/2020/11/23/christmas-2020-the-videoposter


He is present here and now: here and now! Emmanuel. Everything flows from this; everything flows from this, because everything changes. His presence requires flesh, something material, our flesh.

The presence of Christ, in the ordinariness of life, increasingly involves the beat of our heart: being moved by His presence turns into being moved in our daily lives. Nothing is useless; nothing is extraneous. We start to have an affection for everything, everything, and the magnificent consequences of this are respect for what you do, precision in what you do, loyalty to your concrete work and tenacity in persevering to the end; you become tireless. Really, it is as if you were outlining another world, another world within this world.

Fr. Luigi Giussani

Encounter Christ This Christmas!

Welcome to all of you reading this. Whether you are from Wichita or somewhere else, whether you are at Church every Sunday or find yourself only able to make it infrequently, welcome. Everybody belongs in Church on Christmas. Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior.

The Nativity at Night

This year has shown us many things, but above all it has shown us that we need a Savior. Our world is full of things trying to kill us in body, soul, or both. This year we are acutely aware of our own mortality, our own weakness. I have thought often this year of the prophet Isaiah, who said, now the people that went about in darkness has seen a great light; for men abiding in a land where death overshadowed them, light has dawned. (9:2) If there were any doubt, Isaiah continues, For love of Sion I will no more be silent, for love of Jerusalem I will never rest, until he, the Just One, is revealed to her like the dawn, until he, her deliverer, shines out like a flame. […] No longer shall men call thee Forsaken […]; thou shall be called My Beloved, and thy land a Home, now the Lord takes delight in thee. (62:1,4)

For generation after generation, the Jewish people ponders the meaning of these prophecies. They expected a Messiah, a Christos, to save them from the imperial powers that continually ruled over them. What they received was so much more. Not just any savior would do. Only God himself, the Divine Word who was with God and who was God (cf. John 1:1), the Only Son of the Father, the one through whom all things came into being (1:3), the one in whom there was life (1:4) was capable and worthy of the task of redeeming his creatures, and that life came into the world and was the light of men (ibid.). And the Word was made flesh, and came to dwell among us; and we had sight of his glory, glory such as belongs to the Father’s only begotten Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

On Christmas Day, the eternal made himself subject to time. The almighty became powerless. The source of life put on mortality. The creator of all was born of his own creation. God, while not ceasing to be God, was born of a virgin and became man. St. Augustine wrote, “He was God from the Father, and man from the mother. […] From the Father He is the beginning of life, and from the mother he is the end of death. From the Father He ordains every day, and from the mother He consecrates this day.”1

God entered into this world not as the people expected, but as a helpless child, Jesus, the Christ the Emmanuel. He teaches us that forgiveness, not vengeance, is the way to true freedom. He teaches us not to fear death, because he will conquer it. The only thing worth fearing is that which can kill the soul. This event of his birth established his presence here on earth; his presence has never departed from us. We experience it through his Church, his Sacraments, and his presence in his baptized people.

Our Savior has come forth from the darkness to bring light into our lives and to be present in our lives. “The presence of Christ involves the beat of our heart: being moved by his presence turns into being moved in our lives. Nothing is useless; nothing is extraneous. We start to have an affection for everything, everything, and the magnificent consequences of this are respect for what you do, precision in what you do, loyalty to your concrete work and tenacity in persevering to the end; you become tireless.”2 This Christmas,  let us begin to remember the presence of Christ in our hearts, so that his light and power might shine out through us to all the world. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God. (Psalm 98:3c) May they see it through us.

Encounter Christ at Christmas

The Divine Word became flesh to dwell in our hearts. Let us strive to encounter his presence in our lives and spread that presence to those around us.

Homily for Christmas, 2020, Year B.

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