There are several choices for readings for Christmas. I have chosen the following.
Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 96; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14(15-20)
“Desolation is a file, and the endurance of darkness is preparation for great light.” – John of the Cross
Thank God for angels. They are the ones who know what makes us shake in our boots. That is why in the bible their consistent first message (see Greek below) is “Do not be afraid.” This is what the angel Gabriel first says to Mary before he told her she was with child (Luke 1:30). This is what the angel first says to the shepherds before telling them that the baby is bedded in a manger (see Greek below). However, the angels were not the first to speak of Christmas. In today’s first reading the prophet Isaiah, hundreds of years before, said “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2) Isaiah may not have been thinking of Jesus, but what he said way back then resonates with us today because we often still walk in darkness; and what he said reminds us of Jesus. In our darkness we hear the angel’s message. We are all shepherds in the field shaking in our muddy boots. But we hear “Be not afraid.” The famous book of John of the Cross is “The Dark Night of the Soul.” (see quote above) Let us make no mistake. John’s focus and emphasis is not darkness, but rather the great light. For a visual metaphor, look up into outer space on a dark night and see the light of the stars persistently piercing the darkness. That is how the great light of God doggedly comes to us whether we are homey or homeless, comes to us all everywhere. This Christmas, we like shepherds, pick up our gear, leaving our fear behind, and walk towards the light. We then find God imbedded, incarnated (a theological technical term for Christmas) everywhere. We then like Mary ponder these things in our hearts (Luke 2:19).
The word “angel” in Greek means “messenger.” They were simply called messengers. Therefore, “Do not fear” is essentially a message from God.
Luke 2:9 says “they were terrified.” The original Greek uses a technique called redundancy, a way to emphasize by repeating words. It literally says they “feared a great fear.” This was no small terror.
Darkness shakes my heart.
Quiver dispelled by great light.
Christmas now. Fear not.