“AND she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.
“And the angel said unto them: Fear not. For, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour which is Christ the Lord.
“And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
“And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
This is how St. Luke described the day Christ was born in Bethlehem, the city of David. Historians say it was probably occurred between 4 BC and 6 BC, during King Herod’s reign in Judea.
In this Biblical account, we see so many ideals the world associates with Christianity today.
Christ was laid in a manger – the trough in which cattle take their food. The family had to stay in the shed with the cattle and other animals, because there was no place for them in the inn. Poor people – shepherds – were the first to be informed of the good news; the three kings came days later, guided by the star over Bethlehem. Thus governments like ours today see the poor as a special responsibility, who must be helped with their food and housing.
The angels sang of peace, goodwill toward men. Peace and goodwill remain elusive in many parts of the world today, but it is the supreme goal, together with glory to God, for which Christ was born. In our own country, it may explain why our government continues to seek peace with the Communist rebel groups, despite the many difficulties along the way these last few years.
In his weekly General Audience at the Vatican last week, Pope Francis spoke of the crib, the manger, where the baby Jesus lay, as “an artisanal image of peace” – a “living Gospel.” He urged everyone to make a crib in the home, saying it is like inviting Jesus into the home. “If Jesus dwells in our lives, life is reborn, and if life is reborn, it really is Christmas!”
These past days, we have enjoyed the happy season of lights and music, food and gifts, joy and the blessings of the season. Today, Christmas Day, let us reread the story of Christ’s birth, how the angels sang of peace and goodwill, and focus on what so many keep reminding us is the reason for the season, the birth of the Jesus Christ.