'Oh little town of Bethlehem,' so the song begins. We have sung this song for ages in different versions and forms. We are so familiar with the lyrics that we can afford to look away from the songbook while we sing. It is the story of Jesus born in Bethlehem, a little town of Judea in a lonely manger without comfort or luxury under the watchful eyes of Mary and Joseph.
Today in our homes, the Christmas crib is the most recognizable image with the Christmas tree along with the assorted decorative ornaments we can afford. The song becomes relevant when we sing, 'For Christ is born of Mary.' We gather each year to commemorate this event with all our hearts and with all our love. It is not only Mary that is joyful seeing her child, Joseph too stands in awe at the sight of the baby promised by God. The dream is real!
The readings we hear remind us of the story of our salvation from the beginning of time. God so loved the world with an everlasting love that he decided to restore our lost friendship after the Fall of Man. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and did what was forbidden and it caused them the loss of God's friendship. They were expelled from the Garden of God's inestimable love. God did not want a rebellious bunch of humans breaching his commands. He wanted obedient children. Therefore, he set the stage with Jesus as an obedient Servant, born in Bethlehem he brought love to the world.
It is lovely when you continue to sing the song, 'How silently, how silently.' God comes to us in silent modes recognizable by its form and character. The manger was silent. Mary and Joseph were silenced at the appearance of the baby. Earth and heaven became united in one unbreakable bond. Silence covered the earth. Bethlehem only saw the silent stars shining above. God cancelled the disobedience of Adam and Eve with an emphatic 'Yes!' We bear testimony when we stand by the crib. Silence lies in the crib. Outside of it, it is dreadful.
In a world that swims in sin and glories in immorality, the story of the birth of Jesus is hope in the midst of despair. We need to remove the stain of Adam's transgression upon us and labor in the light of Jesus. There is no story as beautifully crafted as that which we recall every Christmas: Born in Bethlehem, he came in swaddling clothes. It is not a story decided by us, it is rather a story decided by God to show us how powerful His love can be.
'Oh, holy child of Bethlehem' as the song winds down, reminds us of his presence in our daily lives. The child born to Mary and Joseph stays in our hearts forever. His name is Emmanuel, a name which means 'God is with us.' With God on our side, who can be against us? The angels celebrate along with us because they too are happy that a King is born into the world to assist in the battle against the rebellious Fallen Angel and his accomplices. The angels can help us win this battle. The battle is a decisive one between agents of heaven and villains of hell. We are not alone in this journey.
We call the celebration of Jesus' birth, Christmas for a very good reason. Christ comes to us at the Mass. The Eucharist is an enactment of that battle. He won! From this moment, as we sing around the dinner table and hum the lyrics in our vehicles, let us remember to give the gift of self to others. To make someone smile does not take a deep pocket. A simple act of love is far greater than all the silver and gold in the world. The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem sets the stage for us to replicate that act of goodness so that the world can see how bright Christ-Mass is with the simple things we can give. What a joyful celebration!
When we sing in different melodious voices, we make the moment festive. And so, the tradition continues for generations yet unborn. For now, it is important to remember the Incarnation is simply, the birth of Jesus in the flesh. Will you wrap your gift round his body? Do something good and be nice to everyone for God loves you. Keep praying!BACK TO LIST