Monday, June 14, 2021

Cortez: Reflections on the Christmas Gospels

THE gospels in each of the days preceding Christmas are rich in meaning–all meant to set the stage for the climactic commemoration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day. Let us highlight some of them.

John 5:33:36 asserts that the testimony of Jesus is greater than that of John’s. Jesus does not need any human testimony to prove that he is the Son of God. His works, which no human being can do or match, testify to his Divinity. Jesus who is infinite cannot be boxed inside man’s finite mind. No doubt, Jesus is the Incarnate God, the God who came in the flesh and dwelt among us.

In Luke 7:18B-23 we see Jesus revealing his identity to the disciples sent by John. Asked if he was the coming Messiah, his answer was not direct but inferential. He cited the works he was doing –the blind regaining their sight, the lame walking, the lepers cleansed, the deaf hearing, the dead raised, and the poor having the good news proclaimed to them. Only God or in his name can all of these be done, hence Jesus was in fact saying, “Yes, I am the promised Savior of the world.”

Matthew 1:1-17 tells us the genealogy of Jesus. His lineage included such big names in salvation history as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, King Solomon, Jacob and Joseph, but also questionable personalities like Tamar who slept with his father-in-law, Rahab who was a prostitute, King David who committed adultery with Bathsheba and even sent Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, to a sure death in battle; and King Solomon who had 700 wives and 300 concubines, and who joined his partners in worshiping foreign gods. What this shows is that Jesus, in coming as man, embraced the totality of humanity. He celebrated the goodness of some but recognized that the flaws of the others are not beyond remedy. He came to call sinners to repentance and to make everything new.

In Matthew 1:18-25, we read about the quiet greatness of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. Knowing that Mary, the woman betrothed to him was pregnant even before their actual marriage, he listened to God’s instructions to still take her as his wife, believing that the baby in Mary’s womb was God’s own Son who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. St. Joseph, in this gospel, models to us the importance of listening to God’s word, and in believing, trusting, and obeying Him.

Luke 1:5-25 narrates the story of the Angel Gabriel’s announcement on the conception of John the Baptist out of the couple, Elizabeth and Zechariah. With both husband and wife already advanced in years, Zechariah doubted the angel’s revelation, leading to his loss of speech. Truly, nothing is impossible with God, and when God works miracles, we have to see these with the eyes of faith.

In Luke 1:26-38, we see the same Angel Gabriel making a similar announcement, this time, the conception of Mary with Jesus. Mary wondered how this could be made possible for she had no relations with any man, but the angel told her that it is by the Holy Spirit that she will bear the Son of the Most High. Confusing as this may have been to the young Mary, the Annunciation showcases her obedience to the will of God saying, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary’s ‘yes’ paved the way for the fulfillment of God’s plan not only for her but for all humankind, just as our own ‘yes’ to the will of God would unlock God’s perfect plan for our own lives.

Luke 1:39-45 records the story of Mary’s visitation of her cousin Elizabeth. Notwithstanding the fact that she was pregnant, Mary traveled a long distance just to see Elizabeth who was also pregnant and to take care of her. By what she did, Mary proved that she was an embodiment of selfless service. More than this, the gospel highlights the supremacy of Jesus over John, for, at the sound of Mary’s greeting of Elizabeth, John in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for the joy of having been visited by no less than the baby Jesus in Mary’s womb.

Luke 1:57-66 is the story of the birth of John the Baptist. Asked what the boy’s name will be, his father Zechariah wrote, “John,” and it was then that he regained his speech. People in the country of Judea who came to know this wondered what the child would be, for the hand of the Lord was with him. Like John, we too are born special in the eyes of the Lord. We were created for a purpose and this must be for something good, for he who created us is good.

Luke 1:67-79 contains Zechariah’s prophesy. Filled with the Holy Spirit he prophesied that God, true to his covenant with the prophets of long ago, raised for us a mighty Savior (Jesus) and that John would prepare the way for him. In Jesus, all of God’s promises find fulfillment. In his coming, the door of mercy to our loving Father is opened. Only in him can we be saved.

A blessed Christmas to one and all.


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