Homily for the feast of the Nativity - Year A - Midnight Mass - Lk. 2:1-14
Father Daniel Meynen
"In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
"And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, 'Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and 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 among men with whom he is pleased!' "
Christmas! The birth of the Savior of men! This event, which we celebrate today, took place two thousand years ago: we have the historical proof for this, for it took place during a census ordered by the Roman emperor of the time, Caesar Augustus. I have no intention of presenting you on this day with historical research concerning the exact year, month and day on which the Savior of men came into this world. Let us be content to believe, along with the whole world, that Jesus was born today, on December 25, exactly 2001 years ago. For, all the scientific research one might do on this subject would only lead to a probability, one that is always smaller than the certainty offered by the centuries-old tradition of the Church, and even of the whole world...
In all Christian countries one celebrates Christmas today, except among Orthodox Christians, who celebrate Christmas on January 6. But in either case, a tradition is being followed. Moreover, what more beautiful word is there to characterize the feast of the Nativity of the Lord than "tradition"? This word, in fact, comes from the Latin "tradere", which means "to transmit". Now, on this day, God gives us and transmits to us his Son, his incarnate Word, through Mary! On this day, we celebrate not only Christ the mediator but also Mary the mediatrix of the Grace of graces: the incarnate Word! And here too we find the word "tradition", for what Holy Scripture affirms of Christ, tradition affirms and believes of Mary: the Mother of God is Mediatrix in the only Mediator, Christ!
When Jesus was born, he became part of the family composed of Joseph and Mary. From that point on, they were three, just as there are three divine persons in the Most Holy Trinity. But among these three human persons, there is one who is in the intermediate position, between the two others: Mary is between Jesus and Joseph, for it is from her that Joseph receives into his arms the Child Jesus, at the time of the Savior's birth. It is in this sense, a fully human sense, that Mary is the Mediator of the grace of graces, it is in this sense that a simple human person serves to transmit the Salvation of God to another human person! On this most blessed night of all, the Virgin Mary, having mystically become the Spouse of the Holy Spirit at the Incarnation, is elevated to the highest dignity there is: that of giving to the world, in the person of her human husband Joseph, Salvation and eternal Redemption!
There is but a single Mediator, Christ, just as there is but one God: "There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus... " (1 Tim. 2:5) Thus, by comparison and by analogy, the three persons of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph are but one mediator, not three, just as the three divine persons are but one God, not three. Each of them, in his own way, is a mediator: Christ, as God and Image of the Father; Mary, as Mother of God and Spouse of the Holy Spirit; Joseph, as believer and as the human spouse of Mary. For Joseph, too, is called to be a mediator in Jesus Christ: in the image of Mary, the entire Church is mediatrix in Christ! The three of them form a single Body, mediator of divine grace: in Christ, and through Mary, the Church is "the universal sacrament of salvation" (Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen Gentium", no. 48)!
On this blessed night, may we all receive Salvation in Jesus-Eucharist, through Mary, the mystical Spouse of the Holy Spirit, and the virginal spouse of Joseph!