These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. (Jn 20:1a, 2-8)
The Fourth Gospel, the one we call according to John, is anonymous. But the church has always wanted to attribute it to the apostle John. But there is an older tradition that says the “disciple whom Jesus loved” was Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. That would make sense of this passage when the “disciple whom Jesus loved” sees the cloth “that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.” He sees and believes because from first hand experience he knows what has happened. Today’s Christmas carol is A Belén Pastores (To Bethlehem Shepherds).
He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them;
and his mother kept all these things in her heart.
And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man. (Lk 2:41-52)
The feast of the Holy Family reminds us that even though our families may not be perfect like the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph—our families are holy. In our families we first find God’s love. Today we have another wonderful Christmas carol from Colombia, thanks to the Pre-kindergarten kids: Mi Burrito Sabanero (My Burrito).
He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.
But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. (John 1:1-18)
As the ancient fathers and mothers of the church would say, “The Son of God became the Son of Man so that men and women could become the dear children of God.” Merry Christmas—Feliz Navidad. Today we have a truly Colombian Christmas Carol: Tutaina.
Alleluia (Lk 2:10-11)
R. Alleluia, alleluia. I proclaim to you good news of great joy: today a Savior is born for us, Christ the Lord. R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christmas is blessed with FOUR distinct Mass formulas each with their proper readings. The lectionary presumes that the community would be present for all (or most) of the liturgies, which is why, even in the old days, it was possible to receive communion twice on Christmas. So Merry Christmas to all! We invite you to join in today’s Christmas carol, Noche de Paz (Silent Night).
So they made signs, asking Zechariah, his father, what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. (Lk 1:57-66, 67-79)
We come to the birth of John the Baptist, and Zechariah is finally to speak fulfilling the words of the angel. And what follows is the Canticle of Zechariah knows as the Benedictus, which is sung at Morning Prayer (Lauds) every day. Today’s Christmas carol is a popular lullaby in Latin America: A la Nanita Nana (Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby -by).
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. (Lk 1:46-56)
Mary’s hymn of praise (the Magnificat) sounds like an organizing anthem. And it is—the lowly lifted up, the hungry filled, the mighty toppled, the rich sent away empty. Maybe that’s why the church puts this hymn on our lips at every evening prayer to shake us up so we can prepare for the coming of the Lord who proclaims good news to the poor. Today we have another popular Christmas carol in Colombia: Mamá, ¿Dónde Están los Juguetes? (Mama, Where are the Toys?).
Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb. (Lk 1:39-45)
The simple prayer we call the Hail Mary contains this blessing of Mary by Elizabeth. And the church has echoed Elizabeth’s words through the centuries as we ask the prayers of the Mother of our Lord. Today’s carol is very popular here in Colombia: Hacia Belén va una burra (A Donkey Heads to Bethlehem).