Fr. Mikael Schink S.J.
Christmas Midnight Mass (2022-12-25)
St. Eugenia Catholic Church
+ Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
As Christ is the prince of peace, he was born in the most peaceful time of the world, a medieval commentator writes on today’s Gospel (Bede) – for there could be no greater sign of peace than for the entire world to be brought together under one rule. The ruler of this time is identified by Luke as Caesar Augustus, but his registering of the whole world also has a mystical significance, for in reality it is Christ who by appearing in the flesh will write down the names of all the elect who believe in his Name. Now in the census of Caesar Augustus, the Name of Christ was written down together with the names of all the people in the world to signify that by his incarnation, he sanctifies all and gives the whole world communion with himself. And this is in a sense the spiritual census for which we have been preparing, to which we have gathered tonight, and which we will continue to celebrate throughout the time of Christmas – to associate ourselves with the new-born Christ and manifest our faith in him.
As Christ is the King of the Nations, he was born in the city of David. God in his providence had governed the world in this way that his only begotten Son should be born in Bethlehem. But there was no room for them at the inn, so the virgin had to lay him in a manger. Every detail of this story, as every detail in the whole of Sacred Scripture, has a special meaning. And thus Christ, who sits at the right side of the Father, finds no room in the inn, to thereby prepare for us the many mansions in his Father’s house. He who clothes the whole world is wrapped in common linen so that we might thereby receive the best of robes. He who is the bread of angels is laid in a manger, that he might refresh us, as it were the holy animals, with the bread of his flesh. By these mysteries of his life, Christ does not cease to be born in Bethlehem, insofar as they continue to bear fruit in us, when we meditate on his life and especially when we receive him in Holy Communion.
Christ is the light of the nations, and so the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and the glory of the Lord shone round them. We may observe the care with which God teaches us and prepares us for faith: An angel appears to Mary and teaches her, an angel teaches Joseph, and an angel is sent also to the shepherds to teach them about Jesus Christ – but no angel is sent the scribes and pharisees, for they were corrupt and filled with envy. Also these events have a spiritual meaning. Mystically, the darkness of night signifies the difficulty for us men to know God. And so, the Word, the true light, that enlightens all men, is sent into the world, to teach us so that we may know God.
Christ is the radiance of the glory of God. Therefore, as soon as the sign of the new birth is revealed, there appears a multitude of the heavenly host. As there was no worldly choir to give praise to God, a celestial army of angels gives him the glory that is his due instead. The angels instruct us by their example, and so we should join them in their praises. Having brought to mind and meditated on the mystery of Christ’s birth, we must not remain indifferent to God’s goodness and glory. We must fall down and worship him as our saviour and true redeemer.
We may also notice that of old, angels were sent to punish, for instance to the Israelites, to David, to the men of Sodom: now on the other hand, they come to wish us peace. This peace has been given us through Christ, for he is the unique and true mediator who reconciles us by himself to God, having united two the natures in one person, and joined the heavenly and the earthly. But we must be careful and read the full passage, for he brings peace only to those of good will, i.e. to those who receive the new born child by faith and believe that he is the Lord.
Let us therefore turn to the Lord and ask him for the grace of Christmas, that we may believe in him and so be united with him through faith; that we may let ourselves be taught by him and meditate on the mystery of his birth; and we may heed the example of the angels, humble ourselves and worship him as the incarnate Lord and one true mediator between God and man. +Amen