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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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Jeremiah 23:5-8
Psalm 72:1-2, 12-13, 18-19
Matthew 1:18-25

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peace in the storms of christmas

"The angel of the Lord appeared in a dream and said to him: 'Joseph, son of David, have no fear about taking Mary as your wife.' " —Matthew 1:20

The Christmas carol, "Silent Night," pictures Christmas as "silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright." However, this is the exception rather than the rule, for Christmas by God's standards is rarely calm. In today's first reading, the Church intimates that Christmas is better than the whole Israelite nation being freed from slavery in one night and from exile after a generation of captivity (Jer 23:7-8). In other words, Christmas is better than two of the most amazing events in salvation history. Christmas may not only be better but even more earth-shaking. The Church uses John the Baptizer's words to describe Christmas as the after-effect of mountains being uprooted and valleys filled (Lk 3:5).

The first Christmas for Joseph was certainly a complete upheaval of his plans to take Mary as his wife and raise a family. The first Christmas for Mary was anything but calm, forced as she was to give birth to God in a barn (see Lk 2:7). Any calm associated with Christmas is usually the lull before the storm. For example, after Mary and Joseph were beginning to get over the trauma of the circumstances of Jesus' birth, they had to flee to Egypt (Mt 2:13).

At the first Christmas, the angels sang of peace on earth (Lk 2:14). This was peace in the most upsetting of circumstances, peace "beyond all understanding" (Phil 4:7). This is the peace of Christmas.

Prayer:  Father, thank You for shaking me up. I trust You.

Promise:  " 'The virgin shall be with Child and give birth to a Son, and they shall call Him Emmanuel,' a name which means 'God is with us.' " —Mt 1:23

Praise:  "O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, Who showed Yourself to Moses in the burning bush, Who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out Your mighty hand to set us free."

Rescript:  †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 17, 2013

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